Valencia CF (14th, 36pts) vs FC Barcelona (3rd, 71pts)*
*Points and positions at the time of writing on Saturday
Competition/Round: 2020-21 La Liga, Matchday 34
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Ansu Fati, Philippe Coutinho, Martin Braithwaite (out)
Valencia Outs & Doubts: Thierry Correia (doubt)
Date/Time: Sunday, May 2, 2021, 9pm CET (Barcelona), 8pm BST/WAT (UK & Nigeria), 3pm ET, 12pm PT (USA), 12.30am IST (India, Monday)
Venue: Estadio de Mestalla, Valencia, Spain
Referee: José María Sánchez Martínez
VAR: Ricardo De Burgos Bengoetxea
How to watch on TV: beIN SPORTS (USA & Canada), LaLigaTV (UK), SuperSport (Nigeria), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), Not Available (India), others
Following a brutally disappointing loss to Granada on Thursday, Barcelona return to action on Sunday with a crucial La Liga match away to Valencia at the Mestalla in what is a must-win game for Barça.
The Blaugrana need to win their remaining five games to have a chance at the title, and after Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid took care of business on Saturday, three points are now more than necessary — they’re an obligation.
The loss to Granada was a bad reminder of this team’s inconsistency, its inability to rise to the occasion when the games really matter. It’s the mark of Ronald Koeman’s first season in charge: taking giant collective dumps in the middle of the field at the worst possible times.
Unless something changes overnight, Koeman will be banned from the touchline as he serves the first of a two-match ban for his red card against Granada, and it will be interesting to see if that has any impact on the team.
Barça will be going up against one of the worst Valencia sides in recent history, a team that’s struggled all season and is on a five-game winless streak. Fans really dislike the playing style under Javi Garcia, who will most likely be sacked at the end of the season, and Los Che have been unable to pick up any form and have been stuck in the middle of the table, with a hint of a relegation threat still there.
But this is still Valencia at Mestalla. No matter how bad they have been this season, they are unbeaten at home in the league in 2021 and always seem to save their best for Barça, and the two Madrid teams will also be glued to their TVs hoping for another bad result from the Catalans.
A big win and a big performance are very important here. Atlético Madrid come to Camp Nou for the biggest game of the season next week, and going into that game in high spirits after three big points and a great showing at a tough ground is just what Barça need.
Unless of course they mess it up again. This team likes to do that under this coach.
Barcelona (3-5-2): Ter Stegen; Mingueza, Piqué, Lenglet; Dest, De Jong, Busquets, Pedri, Alba; Messi, Griezmann
Valencia (4-4-2): Cillessen; Correia, Gabriel, Guillamón, Gayà; Wass, Soler, Racic, Cheryshev; Gómez, Guedes
For what may be the first time in my life, I’m predicting a loss: 3-1 to Valencia, a pathetic performance, and the end of Barça’s title hopes. Sorry.