Valencia vs Barcelona

Estadio de Mestalla forms the backdrop for a tasty-looking La Liga match-up between Valencia and Barcelona.

Valencia finished on the receiving end of a 1-0 scoreline in last weekend’s feisty La Liga clash against Getafe that produced three red cards, condemning Ruben Baraja’s out-of-form side to a third defeat in four matches (D1). Unless ‘Los Che’ can bounce back quickly, their healthy-looking nine-point lead on the relegation zone could erode swiftly. Baraja is on the precipice of losing three consecutive league games for the first time as Valencia manager, with Barcelona’s visit to Mestalla hardly playing into his hands. Valencia’s five-game losing H2H streak against the Catalan powerhouse in La Liga doesn’t make for good reading. But they can draw inspiration from keeping both last season’s meetings competitive, going down to an identical 1-0 scoreline on each occasion.

As for Barcelona, a shock 3-2 defeat at Belgian side Antwerp in their final Champions League group stage outing did nothing to jeopardize their first knockout qualification in three years. However, the pressure starts to mount on title-winning manager Xavi Hernandez after his defending champions slumped to a disastrous 4-2 home defeat to surprise package Girona last weekend. That disheartening result left the ‘Blaugrana’ seven points below the top spot, highlighting the significance of taking a win at Mestalla. But despite their dominant recent H2H record, Barcelona’s away form doesn’t inspire much confidence, as they’ve drawn four of their seven league matches on the road this season (W3). On top of that, last season’s best defense has capitulated at least once in five of Barca’s six most recent top-flight outings on hostile turf!

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