Luis Enrique’s side take on one of the most in-form clubs in the First Division in a vital league clash that rounds off a week that has seen the blaugranes draw in Seville and claim victory in Paris
After consecutive away games in Seville and in Paris, Luis Enrique’s team return to Camp Nou for the third of a trio of testing fixtures in just under seven days. Nuno Santo’s Valencia are the visitors in the league in a match that kicks off at 4.00pm CET on Saturday. Barça saw their lead at the top of the league table cut to two points last weekend when they were held to a 2-2 draw by Sevilla in Andalusia. Nevertheless, the blaugranes bounced back to record a superb 3-1 victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final and now they will be looking to move one step closer to the league title with a victory over an in form rival.
The blaugranes trained on Thursday and Friday following their return from Paris. Andrés Iniesta is almost certain to miss out after picking up a pelvic injury in the victory over Paris Saint-Germain. Dani Alves missed that game through suspension but he could return to the squad for Saturday’s clash with Valencia if he can shrug off an ankle problem. Luis Enrique will name his squad for the game on the morning of the match.
Nuno Santo has named an 18 man squad for Valencia’s trip to Camp Nou. The coach welcomes back teenage defender José Gayà after two matches out with a hamstring problem and Nicolás Otamendi also returns after sitting out the 3-0 win in the city derby against Levante last weekend due to suspension. Argentineans Pablo Piatti and Enzo Pérez are still missing due to injury,
Barça coach Luis Enrique made a plea for a packed Camp Nou to help his side in the league clash with Valencia: “It is a key game and we need to have 90,000 or 100,000 fans who can make Camp Nou rumble.” The blaugrana boss was also fulsome in his praise for Saturday’s rivals Valencia: “Their team dynamics are spectacular. They’re very hard working and very hard to beat and, without a doubt,one of the best teams in the league.”
Luis Enrique’s opposite number Nuno Santo sees the trip to take on the league leaders as “..a challenge. We are up against a great team, with great quality, but we are going there with ambition to compete and challenge.”
The blaugranes have lost just once since the league defeat against Real Sociedad in Anoeta back in early January. Barça have won 12 of their last 14 matches in the league, losing to Málaga and drawing with Sevilla the only times they have failed to pick up all three points. Valencia are also in good form with Nuno Santo’s team on a 10 game unbeaten run in the league which has seen them rise to fourth place in the table. The last team to beat Barça’s opponents on Saturday in the league was Málaga back on 2 February. After successive draws against Villarreal and Athletic, los ché got back to winning ways last weekend with a win in the Valencian city derby against Levante.
Last season Valencia won 3-2 at Camp Nou in the league, ending a run of six consecutive defeats away at FC Barcelona. Blaugrana defender Jérémy Mathieu was in the Valencia side that day. Earlier this season, Sergio Busquets’ late goal gave Barça a vital 1-0 win in the league at Mestalla.
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