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Valencia VS FC Barcelona - Spanish La Liga, Match Picks
Match Time：5/3/2021 03:00 Monday (GMT+8)
Spanish La Liga -- Valencia VS FC Barcelona
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Barcelona will be looking to bounce back from Thursday's damaging defeat to Granada when they continue their La Liga campaign away to Valencia on Sunday evening. Ronald Koeman's side missed the chance to move to the top of the table last time out and remain in third position heading into the next set of fixtures, while an inconsistent Valencia occupy 14th spot.
Valencia made it five league games without a win when they drew 1-1 at home to Alaves last weekend, and there is no question that it has been a desperately disappointing 2020-21 campaign for the club. Indeed, a record of eight wins, 12 draws and 13 defeats from 33 matches has left them down in 14th position in the table, some 34 points off the Champions League positions. Los Che are also now five points behind 10th-placed Celta Vigo, and they are facing the possibility of finishing in their lowest spot at this level of football since the 1985-86 campaign, which saw them claim 16th. Valencia are some way off being a Champions League side once again, and their slide down the table could worsen as two of their next three in the league are against Barcelona and Sevilla. Home form has certainly been a positive for Javi Gracia's side this term, though, as they have lost just three of their 16 league fixtures at Mestalla, posting six victories in the process. Barcelona passed up the opportunity to move to the top of the table on Thursday evening as they suffered a shock 2-1 home loss to Granada; Lionel Messi had sent the hosts ahead in the 23rd minute, but Darwin Machis and Jorge Molina netted in the second half to secure a famous away win. As a result, Koeman's side remain in third position entering the next set of fixtures, level on points and indeed games with second-placed Real Madrid, while they are two points behind leaders Atletico Madrid.
The race for the title in Spain's top flight is fascinating, with Sevilla also in the argument, and Barcelona simply cannot afford to drop more points here, especially ahead of next weekend's home game with Atletico. Koeman was sent off during the defeat to Granada and has now been handed a two-match suspension, meaning that the Dutchman's assistant Alfred Schreuder will be in the dugout for this contest. The Catalan giants have lost four times on their travels in the league this season, but they have recorded 11 victories; Valencia won the corresponding match at Mestalla last term, though, and the hosts are still more than capable of picking up a victory despite their troubles this term.
Valencia La Liga form:
Barcelona La Liga form:
Barcelona form (all competitions):
Valencia are currently in excellent shape in terms of injuries, with Thierry Correia their only doubt due to a knee problem, but the defender should shake off the issue to start. Jasper Cillessen has been passed fit following a knee problem, but the Dutchman could be denied the chance to face his former club, with Jaume Domenech likely to continue between the sticks. Head coach Gracia is expected to resist the temptation to shuffle his pack from the side that started against Alaves, but Denis Cheryshev could replace Kevin Gameiro in the starting XI. As for Barca, Philippe Coutinho and Ansu Fati remain unavailable due to long-term knee problems, while Martin Braithwaite is expected to miss out once again due to an ankle issue. Koeman should make changes to the side that started against Granada, with Pedri, Clement Lenglet and Sergino Dest all in line for spots in the side. However, it is expected to once again be a 3-5-2 formation for the title challengers, with Antoine Griezmann continuing alongside Messi in attack, leaving fit-again Ousmane Dembele on the bench.
Valencia possible starting lineup:
Domenech; Correia, Paulista, Guillamon, Gaya; Wass, Soler, Racic, Cheryshev; Gomez, Guedes
Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Mingueza, Pique, Lenglet; Dest, De Jong, Busquets, Pedri, Alba; Griezmann, Messi
Prediction: Valencia 1-2 Barcelona
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