Preview: Valencia vs. Barcelona

Preview: Valencia vs. Barcelona

Barcelona will be bidding to return to winning ways on Sunday afternoon when they head to Mestalla to take on Valencia in Spain’s top flight.

The Catalan giants are currently fourth in La Liga, four points behind third-placed Real Betis, while Valencia occupy 12th position, eight points off the top six heading into the next set of fixtures.

Valencia looked capable of challenging for a European spot this season in the latter stages of 2021, but it would be fair to say that their performances and indeed results in 2022 have been disappointing.

Los Che are in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey, drawing 1-1 with Athletic Bilbao in the first leg of their last-four contest on February 10, but they are without a victory in the league since December 20.

Jose Bordalas’s side have picked up just two points from their last six matches and will enter this contest off the back of a disappointing 2-1 defeat at struggling Alaves on February 13.

A total of 30 points from 24 matches has left them in 12th spot in the table, now eight points off the top six, so it is going to take a big effort in the final months of the campaign to put themselves in contention for a Europa League spot for next season.

Valencia’s home form this term has been relatively disappointing, picking up just 18 points from 12 matches, while they have lost their last two matches against Barcelona, including a 3-1 reverse at Camp Nou earlier this season.

Barcelona, meanwhile, needed a 96th-minute leveller from Luuk de Jong to claim a point against Espanyol last weekend, but they remain fourth in La Liga, boasting 39 points from 23 matches.

The Catalan giants are only four points behind third-placed Real Betis with a game in hand, while they have also played a match fewer than fifth-placed Atletico Madrid, with neither team able to launch a title challenge this term; indeed, Xavi’s side are 15 points behind leaders Real Madrid heading into the next set of games.

Barcelona were in Europa League action on Thursday evening, playing out a 1-1 draw with Napoli in the first leg of their knockout round playoff, with Ferran Torres netting from the penalty spot in the 59th minute.

The Catalan side have had a difficult campaign for a number of reasons, but they are very much on course for a top-three finish in La Liga, and winning the Europa League would make it a relatively successful season, especially as they need Champions League football for next term to enjoy a strong summer transfer market.

Xavi’s team only have the seventh-best away record in La Liga this term, winning just three of their 12 matches, which is a slight concern heading into this game, especially as they have only been victorious once at Mestalla in Spain’s top flight since October 2016.

Valencia La Liga form:
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Valencia form (all competitions):
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Barcelona La Liga form:
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Barcelona form (all competitions):
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We say: Valencia 1-2 Barcelona
Barcelona have serious defensive problems heading into this match, but Valencia’s recent form has been very disappointing, so it is very difficult to back the home side to triumph. Barcelona are actually unbeaten in their last eight away matches, and we are backing the visitors to secure all three points here.

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