Barcelona face a tough test on Sunday night as they host Valencia to mark their return to La Liga action following the international break.
La Blaugrana will be desperate to get back to winning ways, having suffered defeat in their last two outings. A humiliating 3-0 Champions League loss followed by a despondent domestic display to lose 2-0 to Atletico Madrid before the pause has piled the pressure on Ronald Koeman, whose side sit ninth in the table.
Their opponents on Sunday occupy eighth place, having played a game more. Valencia have failed to win in their last four La Liga fixtures, with draws against Athletic Club and Cadiz following defeats to Real Madrid and Sevilla over the past month.
Here’s 90min’s preview of what promises to be a tight clash.
How to watch Barcelona vs Valencia on TV
When is kick off? Sunday 17 October, 20:00 (BST)
Where is it being played? Camp Nou, Barcelona
What TV channel is it on? LaLigaTV (UK), fuboTV (US)
Highlight? Premier Sports 1 (UK)
Who’s the referee? Jesus Gil Manzano
Barcelona team news
Martin Braithwaite will remain out of contention, while Ronald Araujo will join him having obtained a hamstring injury while on international duty with Uruguay. The door could therefore be open for Clement Lenglet - who is readying himself for more minutes after a knee problem - to receive just a second start of the campaign.
Pedri recently secured a new long-term contract extension with Barcelona – including a release clause of €1bn – although will likely also be out of action for Sunday night’s fixture as he continues his recovery from a muscular problem.
Ousmane Dembele and Sergio Aguero returned to training during the week, with the latter even scoring for Barca in a behind-closed-doors friendly against UE Cornella. Aguero, however, only played the first 30 minutes of that tie so is unlikely to start on Sunday - although could be named in the squad.
Valencia team news
Jose Bordalas’ side have been without Jose Gaya, Carlos Soler and Denis Cheryshev in recent weeks, although Los Che were handed a boost last weekend as all returned to training.
The three key starters are thought to be in contention of being restored to the starting XI for the trip to Camp Nou immediately.
Barcelona vs Valencia predicted lineups
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Dest, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Busquets, Gavi, De Jong; Coutinho, Depay, Fati
Valencia: Cilessen; Diakhaby, Gabriel, Guillamon, Gaya; Soler, Wass, Racic; Cheryshev, Guedes, Duro
Barcelona vs Valencia prediction
With both teams sitting on 12 points and coming into this tie in severely disappointing form, there shouldn’t be too much in it.
The visitors will look to exploit a shaky Barcelona back line with their dynamism in midfield and pace in the attack, while Koeman’s side will hope to finally get their creative sparks clicking and find that clinical brilliance that they’ve lacked thus far – in other words, the Lionel Messi factor.
It may take the odd moment of magic to snatch a result on Sunday night, and with the likes of Memphis Depay, Fati, Goncalo Guedes and Soler on either side – not to mention the potential debut of Aguero – don’t bet against it happening.
However, given the depressing mediocrity on show in the early stages of the campaign - and despite a return to full capacity at Camp Nou - the more likely scenario on the night is a share of the spoils.
Prediction: Barcelona 1-1 Valencia