Here’s what Barcelona need to do to beat Marcelino’s men:
1. Give Messi the ball
Lionel Messi is playing at such a high level that he becomes the very factor that decides the outcome of the match. The best the players can do is to feed the ball to him and watch him torment the Mestalla and make their defence sweat like he’s been doing for years. The Valencia defence is weak at defending through-ball attacks which makes way for Messi, Philippe Coutinho and Jordi Alba to lock and load in their usual way.
2. Use Ousmane Dembele’s pace
It’s no secret that Valencia’s defence can’t control high-octane counter-attacks and Barcelona have players who have bags of pace. Ousmane Dembele looks to be the player who can make the most advantage of Valencia’s weaknesses. His electric pace and dynamic footwork make him a headache for full-backs. He has been in good form for the Blaugranes and showed why Barcelona have invested so much in him. It’s time he put his best foot forward and again showed the world what he can do.
3. Support Lenglet and Semedo
A lot has been said against Barca players already this season and they, including Valverde, have received plenty of flak for their performances. But it is time to leave that behind and trust and support our players.
Clement Lenglet needs it the most. Against Tottenham he showed that he can be a strong presence at the back albeit with some signs of loss of focus, especially against skilful players who like to dribble.
Another player needing public support is Nelson Semedo. Although his pace and ability to run back and forth are appreciable, he has shown some real vulnerabilities on the pitch.
The duo will be starting due to injuries to Sergi Roberto and Samuel Umtiti and let’s hope they do justice to the faith Valverde has to put in them. Valencia sit 16th at the table and have won just one Liga match this season, so if Barcelona wish to make the most out of the opportunity, the fans and the coach need to trust the squad players.
4. Make the midfield click
The midfield is the passing and transition core of the team and Barcelona are slightly struggling with playmaking from the heart of midfield. Valverde has to make sure the midfield comes back to its Blaugrana roots and passes with purpose. Valencia are known to play aggressive football so a tougher, resolute midfield layout can do wonders. In a nutshell, if the midfield passes with motive and seamlessly transitions, Barcelona significantly up their chances of winning this fixture.