Barcelona v Valencia – Sunday 19th February – Camp Nou Barcelona (22:30)
This weekend the Spanish La Liga serves up a mouth watering clash between two heavy weights. Both teams are going through a tricky patch and will be looking to get their seasons back on track. These two always produce an exciting encounter and one can expect nothing less this time around.
Barcelona are having a rocky season this term as they have dropped a few points to the so called lower ranked teams. They suffered a shock defeat last weekend as they went down 3-2 away to Osasuna. Barcelona looked a shadow of the team that has been dominating European football as they were stunned by 2 quick goals and found themselves chasing the tie. Manager Josep Guardiola opted for a different line-up, one that looked very under strength, as the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas all were rested. This proved costly and even though Cesc was introduced in the latter stages of the game, he could not prevent Barcelona of slipping to their second defeat this season. Barcelona now trail their main rivals Real Madrid by a whopping 10 points and could have ultimately handed their title to their foes. In a post match interview Lionel Messi explained that the gap might be a huge one but one should never write them off as there is still some way to go till the end of the campaign. Barcelona will now have to play catch up and there are a few fans doubting whether they can close the gap.
Valencia kept their season on track with a comprehensive 4-0 victory against Sporting Gijon. A late brace from Brazilian forward Jonas was the key to their success. Valencia opened the scoring in the 33rd minute and it looked like it would stay that way until they were gifted an own goal and they then went from strength to strength and eventually killed the game off in stoppage time. The victory could not come at a better time as Valencia has been struggling for form in recent times. Their away form has cost them on countless occasions and Manager Unai Emery will be looking to change that in order to cement their place in the top 4 as he has conceded that the league is out of their hands and their main goal will be to feature in the Champions League next year. Valencia will be looking for revenge as they were dumped out of the Copa del Rey by Barcelona last week and in-form striker Roberto Soldado stated that they don’t fear their opponents and that on their day they can beat any team.
These two teams have had different outcomes this past weekend. Barcelona will be looking to get back to winning ways and should field a much stronger side. However there’s still a feeling Valencia will give them a run for their money. The draw is on the cards in this clash.