After a scintillating 6-1 triumph over Sevilla in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals, Barca brought their goal tally for the month of January to a massive 20, showing that 2019 is theirs for the taking should their current form persist.
While a visit to the Camp Nou by Valencia on Saturday may seem like a routine fixture on paper, it should not be taken lightly, as The Oranges have shown tremendous grit in their fixtures leading up to match week 22.
Astonishingly, Valencia’s recent form mirrors that of Barcelona, with Los Che winning four matches and losing one in all competitions. Topping off their rise in form is their midweek 3-1 Copa del Rey win over the high flying Getafe; a match in which Valencia overturned a one-goal deficit to book a spot in the semi finals.
Shifting focus back to La Liga, Valencia sit in seventh place in the league table after what was an uncharacteristically slow start to the season. With 11 draws in 21 matches, The Bats were frustratingly stuck in the bottom half of the table for months.
Valencia did well to overcome their hardships, however, as they remained resolute at the worst of times and did well to claw back points when it seemed that all hope was lost. They have only lost four La Liga matches this season, which is the third fewest losses in the league behind Barca and Atletico Madrid.
Regularly lining up with a classic 4-4-2 formation, The Oranges have excelled in defence this season. With only 18 goals conceded, they, along with Getafe, hold the second best defensive record in the league. Only Atletico have conceded fewer goals.
Valencia have performed admirably against La Liga’s finest, with an away win over Getafe in November as well as draws against Atletico, Sevilla and Barca in the reverse fixture earlier this season. Their only real low points against top opposition come from an underwhelming 2-0 loss at the Santiago Bernabeu and a 2-1 loss at Alaves.
Looking at Valencia’s key players, no one stands out in the stats department. Daniel Parejo is the club’s top scorer in La Liga this season with five goals, while Spanish international forward Rodrigo has netted on just four occasions and completed three assists.
While there seems to be no standout performers for Valencia, the fact that they continue to get results without any individual sensationalism is a result of solid team chemistry and effective use of time on the ball.
While Valencia have exhibited perseverance, and by extension, resilience thus far this season, one cannot discard the fact that Barca are of a superior calibre to their La Liga opponents, as is evident from their phenomenal form as of late as well as their team sheet. Three points at the Camp Nou on Saturday should be on the cards for the Blaugranes, however they will still have to dig deeper than usual in order to penetrate a hearty Valencia defence.