Following the international break, Barca will be looking to bounce back from their slow start to the season. Also in an unsatisfactory position are their opponents for the evening, Valencia CF. Following the dismissal of Marcelino Garcia Toral, new Valencia manager and former Barca player Albert Celades will be looking to prove himself in front of the Camp Nou crowd. Let’s take a look at how much of a threat Valencia may pose on the night, and if Barca has what it takes to bag the three points.
So far, Valencia have had one win, one loss and one draw. Their opening day draw with Real Sociedad was followed by a 1-0 away loss to Celta Vigo, while their third match with Mallorca ended in a 2-0 victory for The Oranges. In summary, their form has been erratic.
In terms of in-match performances, Valencia have shown some promise on the attack. While only able to grab 37% possession against Real Sociedad, Valencia managed a total of 14 shots, with six hitting the target. Against Mallorca, four of their 10 shots were on target, and The Oranges were rewarded with two goals for their efforts. Valencia’s shortcoming up front comes in their inability to reap the rewards of their efforts; three goals in as many matches is below par for a team of their caliber.
Defensively, Valencia have suffered. While they may have only conceded two goals this season, these goals were decisive due to The Oranges’ inability to produce more goals of their own. Should Barca take the initiative on the attack and outsmart Valencia’s back line (something they have not consistently done), then a goal or two should be enough to secure a victory.
In terms of players, Valencia were fairly active in signing promising talents during the summer transfer window. Denis Cheryshev’s loan deal was made permanent over the summer, and he is always a threat on the wing. Maxi Gomez, perhaps their biggest outfield signing of the summer, proved vital for Celta Vigo last season, scoring 13 goals and bagging five assists for his former side. While so far unproven in La Liga, young signing Thierry Correia may prove promising in upcoming games, however the likelihood of him being utilized against Barca is minimal.
In terms of key players, captain Dani Parejo remains crucial to Valencia’s success. The center mid not only controls Valencia’s passing game, but also proved his scoring abilities by coming out as his side’s top scorer in the league with nine goals last season. Up front are Rodrigo, who was Valencia’s high scorer in all competitions last season with 15 goals, and his strike partner Kevin Gameiro who bagged 11 goals in all competitions himself. Together, with the aforementioned Maxi Gomez, this attacking lineup may cause Barca some defensive woes should they manage to finally gel together.
Arguably Valencia’s standout player defensively is left-back Jose Gaya. He featured in 35 La Liga games for Valencia last season, even scoring a goal and providing two assists in the process. While he may be ageing, center-back Ezequiel Garay remains a reliable resource for Los Che, while Jasper Cillessen is now between the sticks and will relish taking on his former side.
Valencia do have the potential to cause an upset, however this would be unlikely given their current run of form. On the other hand, Barca have been error-prone as of late, and any slip-up on their part may afford Valencia an advantage that the Blaugranes cannot recover from. The outcome of this match lies firmly on Barca’s shoulders, and depends on whether or not they can deliver the goods that supporters will be craving.