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Barcelona’s chance for revenge against Valencia

The champions face a must-win game already

FC Barcelona v Valencia - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

When was the last time a Barca v Valencia fixture was 8th place playing 10th in the table?!

Neither team have started the campaign particularly well, but for differing reasons.

The Blaugrana have been without talisman Leo Messi all season long, whilst Los Che have suffered because of Peter Lim’s meddling.

Marcelino and his team will believe that they can upset the odds again on Saturday, after the Valencia coach finally broke his duck in last season’s Copa del Rey final.

It was the first time in over 20 attempts that he was able to end a game against Barcelona on the winning side.

The performance from Barca and result on the night fed into the narrative that Ernesto Valverde wasn’t able to motivate his stars sufficiently well after the Liverpool debacle.

Another failure to win in this one, thereby keeping the Blaugrana in mid-table if other results don’t go their way, will see the knives out again for the Basque, though he’ll be as keen as his players to right that particular wrong.

Messi’s participation is still in the balance at this stage, and with Borussia Dortmund directly following this weekend’s game, perhaps it is wise to keep the Argentinian fresh for that particular assignment.

Unless Antoine Griezmann is given the type of service from which he thrives, but which has been sorely lacking in two of this season’s three games, Barca will need their captain back to help kick-start their campaign.

Another pressing issue is in the right-back area. Although Nelson Semedo’s injury doesn’t seem as bad as first thought, a zero risk policy may well be adopted with the Portuguese.

That would leave either Sergi Roberto or Moussa Wague to face Gonçalo Guedes or an overlapping Jose Gaya.

It was proven to be a weak area in the final and there’s a very high possibility that Los Che will target that area again.

With both Rodrigo and Kevin Gameiro quicker than Barca’s back line, bar Jordi Alba, the threat from the visitors is obvious.

Their supply line will come via Dani Parejo, so it’s imperative that Barca cut it off at source.

I’d like to see both Frenkie and Arthur start the game as both have the ability to set the rhythm and tempo, which is precisely what Barca need against such high quality opponents.

With lots of individual battles right across the pitch, there’s much to get excited about, but failure really isn’t an option for the hosts.

They could be as much as many as eight points behind the leaders if Lady Luck deserts them again, and that’s a long way back even at this early stage.

Game on!

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