Barcelona travels to Mestalla in Matchday 34 of critically positioned La Liga Santander. As we enter the final month of the competition, the question still remains: Who will win the title? It is very possible that the title challenge might be decided on the last weekend of the month. As such, every fixture and every point is crucial for almost every team in the top flight.
Why should you be watching?
There is absolutely no reason to miss this one. With all top four teams are capable of winning the title, FC Barcelona can’t afford to drop any more points. If they do drop more points, their title challenge will be over for good as Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid were able to win their respective games this weekend. On the other hand, Valencia is 6 points above the relegation zone and will be under no pressure going into this game. And if they manage to cause an upset, they will do a huge favor for both the Madrid sides.
It has been a tough past few weeks for the hosts. Out of the 5 matches played in April, the home side has managed 2 losses and 3 draws from them. In fact, in their last 12 matches, Javi Garcia’s side has just registered 3 wins, losing 5 and drawing 4 in the process. The coach will look for a much-improved performance in this match from his side. The side is currently 6 points above relegation and to stay in the top flight, they will need a couple of results in their favor. After Barcelona, they have to face the likes of Valladolid and Sevilla up next. As such, a good result against FC Barcelona will be a good morale booster for the team.
Barcelona comes on the back of a very disappointing loss to Granada at home. Barca had the chance to go top but they squandered it miserably. As already seen previously this season, the team has not been able to kill off the game with a decisive 2nd goal and the same was the case midweek. They now depend on the results of other teams to have a chance of winning the title. Ronald Koeman was sent off in the last match and hence, assistant coach Alfred Schreuder will be guiding the team from the bench. A win here might give the team much-needed confidence ahead of their key fixture against Atletico Madrid in Matchday 35. In absence of their coach and dropped points midweek, this game becomes a crucial one, and visitors will like to gain form again.
There might be a couple of changes for the home side. They are desperate to return to winning ways. Domenech will start in the goal. The defense will consist of Daniel Wass, Gabriel, Diakhaby, and Gaya. We might see the return of Cheryshev in midfield along with Racic, Soler, and Musah. Kevin Gameiro and Maxi Gomex will be expected to form the attack for the hosts.
GK: Jaume Domenech
DEFENCE: Daniel Wass, Gabriel, Mouctar Diakahaby, Jose Gaya
MIDFIELD: Yunus Musah, Racic, Carlos Soler, Denis Cheryshev
ATTACK: Maxi Gomez, Kevin Gameiro
Ronald Koeman is expected to go all guns blazing for this one. MATS will start between the sticks. Oscar Mingueza, Pique, and Lenglet will form the backline for the away team. The midfield will see the return of Pedri and Dest with Busquests, De Jong and Jordi Alba. Griezmann is expected to maintain his starting spot in the forward line alongside Lionel Messi.
GK: Ter Stegen
DEFENCE: Oscar Mingueza, Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet
MIDFIELD: Sergino Dest, De Jong, Sergio Busquets, Pedri, Jordi Alba
ATTACK: Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann
Head to Head
In the previous meeting between both sides at Camp Nou, the encounter ended in a 2-2 draw with Lionel Messi and Ronald Araujo scoring for the home side and Diakahaby and Maxi Gomez for the visitors.
Players to Watch Out For
The 33-year French forward has always been a threat up front. The numbers are not in his favor but he is always involved in forwarding plays for the team. He has scored 4 goals and got 1 assist in this campaign so far. The midfield will look up to link with him and test the opposition goalkeeper. If he hits his top form, it will be a daunting task to control him.
Perhaps the most versatile player in the whole Valencia squad. In the current season, he has occupied several different positions as required by the coach. The Denmark international has already played as a right-back, right-midfielder, and central midfielder for the team. He is fond of occupying forward places in the final third during the attack. He is very much capable of delivering set pieces along with finding players between spaces. A lot will depend on him for the home side to pose a challenge to the opposition goal.
The Uruguayan international is really a sign of danger for the opposition defense. He is really good with one-on-one situations. Having already grabbed 5 goals this season, he is hungry for more. He is always seen as the target man up front. He is very good at controlling long balls and can run riot against any defense with his pace and skill.
Who else? Lionel Messi has been in sumptuous form since the turn of the year. He has been the talisman for the team for quite a lot of seasons now. His extraordinary capability to find spaces is unknown to none. He has most goals and assists in 2021 and as such, Barcelona will rely on their main man again to exploit a resilient Valencia defense. He will once again look to take his team over the line and put them one step closer to the title.
The impact which the youngster has on the games was definitely missing in their loss to Granada. He was brought on in the 2nd half but to no avail. His chemistry with Messi is known to everyone. He is excellent both on the ball and off the ball. He can keep possession for a long time and then just make one excellent pass and the forwards will be through on goal. Pedri will have to deliver a very mature performance if Barcelona is to win the game.
Frenkie De Jong
FDJ has been very pivotal to the success the club has achieved this season. He is easily one of the most versatile players this time in the world. He has already occupied all possible center-back positions along with all midfield spots as well. Moreover, he has also contributed by scoring goals and providing assists for the team. He is very agile and technical on the ball. His role will be crucial in this game.
It is a very tough fixture for both sides and given their history, it will be a surprise if any of the defense is able to keep a clean sheet. Valencia will stick to counterattacks more often than not with the pace of Gameiro and Maxi Gomez ahead. Barcelona will be keeping most of the possession. However, after the first goal by either side, the game will become much open and it won’t be one-goal affair.
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