By Melanie Hughes
Valencia CF have tonight’s game against Barcelona to prove that they deserve their place at the head of La Liga. A trip to the Camp Nou is difficult at the best of times but when Barça are fighting to go level on points with you at the top of the table, your task is made even more difficult.
The absence of Xavi is always a factor especially if Barça are going to have Busquets drop back to form a back 3 with Pique and Puyol when in possession. This means that Iniesta or Keita will have to work on not only tackling and intercepting but having the added pressure of starting the attack from deep; something Xavi does naturally.
Valencia also have another factor going their way; Barcelona have failed to win around half of their fixtures straight after an international break in the past couple of years. Despite losing Villa and Silva in the summer, Valencia seems to have finally found a bit of stability from the team fighting relegation one season and qualifying for the Champions League the next.
Although their play is more defensive, they still have quality in the likes of Joaquin, Mata and Rodriguez (when fit) to commit to devastating attacks. Tonight’s encounter at the Camp Nou will be a testing one for both teams; Valencia will be desperate to prove that they belong at the top and Barça will be looking to overturn them and their post-international demons.
Expected Starting XIs
Barcelona: Valdes; Alves, Puyol, Pique, Abidal; Keita, Mascherano, Iniesta; Messi, Villa, Krkic
Valencia: Cesar, Bruno, Costa, Navarro, Mathieu; Hernandez, A Costa, Albelda, Vicente; Soldado, Dominguez