On Sunday, 17th of April 2016, Valencia CF will visit Catalunya to measure forces with a fragile FC Barcelona at Camp Nou for the last match of Round 33 of Liga BBVA.
All of a sudden, everything has started to crumble for FC Barcelona. The Blaugranas’ draw at El Madrigal against Marcelino Toral’s Villarreal CF was some sort of prelude of what was to come to the current Spanish and European champions. After the 2-2 draw with the Submarino Amarillo, Barça have lost three of the four competitive matches they took part in and found themselves being eliminated from the UEFA Champions League.
Last weekend, FC Barcelona extended their poor record at Anoeta Stadium after losing to Real Sociedad 1-0, the exact same result from last season. An early goal by the new Basque wonder boy Mikel Oyarzabal was enough to impose the fourth defeat of the season to the Catalan team and to extend Barça’s current crisis.
The defeat at San Sebástian has also worked to stir up some ghosts of the past and the Spanish media have revealed, over the last couple of days, that some of Barcelona’s most influential players have turned their backs on Luis Enrique and that the Asturian manager is currently on a very delicate situation in the team’s locker room.
The former Spanish international is tough as nails, a strong willed man, and he will surely not falter because of the recent adversities and not even the midweek elimination from the UEFA Champions League will make him abandon his principles.
The upcoming fixture against Valencia CF at Camp Nou is, for all the reasons mentioned above, of the utmost importance for the Blaugranas, who cannot allow any more slipups, if they want to revalidate their La Liga title.
For that match, Luis Enrique will not be able to rely on the services of Arda Turan, who is currently suspended. Mathieu, Vermaelen and Sandro Ramirez will also miss out there, because of injury. Neymar and Rafinha, on the other hand, are still recovering from minor injuries and are in doubt for the match against Los Che.
As for Valencia, Los Murcielagos are having a season to forget so far and are still in need of points to safe from the catacombs of the relegation zone. A win against Barcelona at Camp Nou would definitely help to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
Pako Ayestarán’s men are motivated after last round’s win over Sevilla FC at Mestalla, but it is not likely that they will be able to cause Barça any major upset out there. When Los Che visited Camp Nou for a Copa del Rey match early this year, they ended up humiliated by a 7-0 staggering defeat.
Despite all negatives, FC Barcelona are firm favourites for next Sunday’s match at Camp Nou and there is a strong possibility of them replicating last term’s 2-0 win. That being said, this might probably be Barça’s strongest line-up for upcoming fixture against Valencia CF.
Luis Enrique fielded, as usual, Marc-André ter Stegen for the UEFA Champions League match in the middle of the week against Atlético Madrid and it wasn’t because of him that Barça lost the match. Next Sunday, however, Claudio Bravo should make his way into the starting XI once again.
Barcelona’s defence has been leaving something to be desired in recent matches, but the Asturian manager will probably not produce plenty of changes next Sunday.
Sergi Roberto will probably play on the right side of the defensive quartet, while Piqué and Mascherano will occupy the centre back positions. Jordi Alba should be the chosen one to play on the left side.
The midfield line should not change much next Sunday and Luis Enrique will certainly keep pushing with his usual trio composed by Busquets, Rakitic and Iniesta. The absence of Arda Turan and Rafinha’s injury has drastically reduced Luis Enrique’s choices for the centre of the pitch.
Neymar is in doubt for next weekend’s match and there is a strong possibility of Luis Enrique fielding Munir alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez once again.
The Spanish wonder boy has already showed several times this season that he is fit for the job and he is a valuable option in case of the Brazilian striker fails to recover in time for the match.