After what can only be called the Lionel Messi show on Wednesday night at Wembley, Ernesto Valverde’s team travel from London to Valencia as a stiff test awaits them in La Liga.
They made it six points out of six to start off their Champions League campaign with Lionel Messi running the show for them, but will they be able to turn it around and pick up a victory in the Spanish championship?
While Valencia drew 0-0 in their Champions League encounter against Manchester United, they’re at least able to say they recently won a match in La Liga as they defeated Real Sociedad 1-0 last Saturday.
For FC Barcelona, they have gone win-less in their last three matches with their last victory, ironically enough, also coming away from home in a 2-1 win against Real Sociedad. Since that game, they have drawn twice and lost once, with the defeat coming against bottom of the table Leganes. However, coach Valverde finally appeared to have got the starting eleven correct against Tottenham.
Even without Messi’s brilliance, Coutinho excelled, Luis Suarez helped set-up both of Messi’s goals as he dummied the ball through to him and possibly most surprising of all was Arthur. The Brazilian received praise from many for his fantastic performance against Tottenham.
Despite it being his first season at the club, Arthur showed signs of days gone by when a certain Xavi was controlling the midfield for the blaugrana. While it may be premature to call him the heir to the legend, should he start and put in the same type of performance as he did against Tottenham, Barcelona may have found themselves a gem in midfield.
One player who hasn’t been playing particularly well for his club is Gerard Pique. He hasn’t been up to his usual standards recently and despite not properly closing down Erik Lamela for Tottenham’s second goal on Wednesday, his performance at Wembley was arguably his best of the season.
The other good news for the Catalan club is that he is beginning to form a partnership with Clement Lenglet. The duo have started both of Barcelona’s last two matches and with Samuel Umtiti out for an undetermined amount of time, the pressure will be on the veteran defender to help Lenglet out on the pitch.
Coutinho key for Catalans
The other key for Barcelona will be getting Coutinho involved in the match. The Brazilian started off brilliantly against Athletic Bilbao but started to fade as the match went on. If the blaugrana will want to have any success at the Mestalla, Coutinho will have to be on top of his game to help Messi out when moving forward.
The former Liverpool man has added a new dimension to Barcelona’s attack. He’s capable of unlocking any team with his long range shots, as he did against Leganes. If the team’s short passing can’t lead to a goal, perhaps Coutinho’s right foot would be able to provide Barcelona with what they need.
Barcelona will look to get maximum points, especially with them being tied in the standings with Real Madrid and having six other teams no more than three points behind them in the table. It won’t be easy against a Valencia side desperately looking to get the win, knowing that a loss could even find them in the bottom three.
The three players to watch in this match would have to be Lionel Messi, Arthur and Coutinho with Pique being a close fourth and if all them are on point, Valverde’s men should be able to maintain their position at the top of the league.
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