Barcelona travel to Valencia in La Liga as they look to retain their place at the summit of the table.
The away side come into this one off the back of a 2-1 Copa del Rey success over UD Ibiza. However, they are level on points with Real Madrid in La Liga, and have not been able to string consecutive wins together for some time.
Valencia, on the other hand, find themselves in seventh place, but still in the hunt for Champions League football. Two wins from five, and a heavy loss in their previous game to relegation-fighting Mallorca will not help their confidence.
Where to Watch
|When is Kick Off?||Saturday 25 January|
|What Time is Kick Off?||15:00 (BST)|
|Where is it Played?||Mestalla Stadium|
|TV Channel/Live Stream||N/A|
|Referee||Jesús Gil Manzano|
Luis Suarez will continue to miss out for Barca, as the Uruguayan talisman recovers from knee surgery, which is expected to keep him out for the remainder of the season. Ousmane Dembélé has been missing since November with a hamstring injury, and will not make a return in Valencia. Neto, who sprained his ankle during his sides 2-1 victory over Ibiza, is a doubt.
Valencia have been the unluckier of the two on the injury spectrum. Cristiano Piccini has not featured since August as he suffered a fractured kneecap, and will not return against Barcelona. Gonçalo Guedes, who sprained his ankle in October, will remain out for the foreseeable future. Manu Vallejo suffered the same fate as Guedes, and will also miss out.
Rodrigo has not featured in Valencia's last four games, and could be on the sidelines for a fifth, as a knee injury has stopped the Spaniard from making a return. Dani Parejo was sent off against Mallorca, and will subsequently serve a suspension during Barcelona's visit.
|Valencia||Domenech; Wass, Gabriel, Diakhaby, Gaya; Cheryshev, Coquelin, Kondogbia, Soler; Gameiro, Gomez.|
|Barcelona||Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Busquets, Vidal, De Jong; Fati, Griezmann, Messi.|
Barcelona have somewhat struggled against Valencia in recent years. In their previous five meetings, the away side have won just twice, although they have lost on only one occasion. This is a record that could both encourage and discourage Valencia, as they have proved difficult to beat, but simply cannot break down the opposition themselves.
In their last encounter, Barça coasted past the home side, netting five. This made up nearly half of their goals against Valencia in their last five matches, as the Catalan club has scored 11, as opposed to Valencia's eight. As both sides score an abundance of goals whenever they meet, this can only be an entertaining one for the neutral.
Valencia have won just two of their last five matches, and suffered a heavy 4-1 defeat to Mallorca last time out. However, a draw to title-chasers Real Madrid in the league during this period will fill the players with confidence, knowing that Barcelona are equally as susceptible at the moment. Valencia's lack of goals will be a worry though, as they have scored more than one goal just once during this poor run.
Barcelona have not been much better. Although they are unbeaten in 10 league matches, they have won two of their previous five, showing that they simply cannot kill a game off. This period, much like their opponents, featured a draw with Real Madrid, which could be deemed a good result as the two battle for the title. Their inability to keep opponents out has been a cause for concern, though.
Here's how both teams have fared in their last five matches.
|Logrones 0-1 Valencia (22/01)||Ibiza 1-2 Barcelona (22/01)|
|Mallorca 4-1 Valencia (19/01)||Barcelona 1-0 Granada (19/01)|
|Valencia 1-3 Real Madrid (08/01)||Barcelona 2-3 Atletico Madrid (09/01)|
|Valencia 1-0 Eibar (04/01)||Espanyol 2-2 Barcelona (04/01)|
|Valladolid 1-1 Valencia (21/12)||Barcelona 4-1 Alaves (21/12)|
Both sides head into this one believing that they can take advantage of their opponent's poor form, so we should be in for a treat. Both have struggled to string wins together recently, and have been open defensively.
Barcelona's quality will be enough to see off Valencia, however. Messi and Griezmann will be enough to see the league-leaders over the finishing line.
Prediction: Valencia 1-3 Barcelona