Match Preview: Barcelona vs Valencia

Is derby time in La Liga, as Barcelona welcomes Valencia to the Camp Nou Stadium tonight at 21:00 (CET).

Spanish champions Barcelona have another tough test ahead of them after the rather disappointing 2-2 draw at Osasuna in their last outing.

The Catalans have only four points from nine available, a start of a season they are definitely not accustomed to.

Valencia is their next opponent, who could still be in shock after the unexpected, and maybe even unnecessary sacking of their coach Marcelino.

The 54-year old led Los Ches to Copa del Rey glory, beating Barcelona in the Final. However, he reportedly had some issues with the board, which was the main reason behind the action.

Barcelona-born Albert Celades was named as Marcelino’s successor in charge of Valencia. Celades is not a friendly figure at Camp Nou though, because despite of graduating in Barca’s La Masia academy, he went on later in his career to represent Real Madrid.

Team news

Lionel Messi will sit out the derby against Valencia, as he is yet to make his first appearance in the 2019-20 La Liga campaign.

Ousmane Dembele, Samuel Umtiti and former Valencia goalkeeper Neto are also sidelined, while Luis Suarez is expected to return to the starting line-up.

Carlos Soler, with an ankle injury and Cristiano Piccini, who has a fractured kneecap will miss Valencia’s trip to Barcelona this evening.

The rest of the squad is fine though, with Jasper Cillessen ready to start between the sticks against his former employees.

Talk to the press

Lionel Messi spoke about his injury in an exclusive interview for Barcelona’s official website before the game against Valencia this weekend.

“I’m feeling better. It really was a stroke of bad luck because it happened in the first training session,” said the Barcelona captain.

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“It was a simple thing. It was going to be a fortnight and when I thought I was okay, it came back a bit in one of the sessions before the Betis game. That means I’ll be out for a while longer.

“I will play when I feel really sure it isn’t going to happen again because if it does then I’ll be out for even longer. I really want to play. I hadn’t played for some time and was just back and this happened, so I’m really hungry to get playing again.”

Albert Celades knows Barcelona will make his Valencia debut difficult, even without Lionel Messi in the team.

“I expect an FC Barcelona who are just like they are: One of the best teams. When you play against such a good side, you need to hold your concentration for 90 minutes, as they can make you pay for any lapse.

“We know about their quality, but we are optimistic as well. We will go there with the best mentality and with the idea of competing in the best way,” he said at the press conference.

“No more needs to be said about Messi, but Barca always gives you difficulties, whatever starting XI they field or the changes that they make. They cause even more problems at their home ground. We know how difficult the game will be, but we are focused on the plan that we have worked on in our two training sessions together.”

Stats

As we already mentioned, Valencia won the most recent encounter between both sides, beating the Catalans 2-1 in last season’s Copa del Rey Final.

Los Ches actually went unbeaten in all three encounters with the Spanish champions in the previous campaign, also drawing twice (1-1 and 2-2) in La Liga.

In their most recent meeting at Camp Nou, Valencia threw away an early two-goal lead, with Lionel Messi netting twice to save a point for the hosts.

Other than in last year’s derby, Los Ches have won points at Camp Nou on only two other occasions in the past 10 years.

Barcelona was beaten only once at Camp Nou in the entire 2019-20 campaign. They are currently on a run of 11 straight home wins across all competitions.

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