December 5, 2015 • 19:30 • Estadio de Mestalla, Valencia
Referee: Santiago Jaime Latre
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Barcelona look to upset Gary Neville’s introduction at Valencia as they prepare to travel to the Mestalla and to continue with incredible form led by superb attacking trio, Messi, Neymar and Suarez.
Los Che’s new head-coach, Manchester United legend, Gary Neville is set to make his debut for Valencia, but the time for sure is not the best one for him, as one of the best teams in world is coming to town. Already by team names it can be said that this is a big derby game in La liga. However, the big question is whether we can really call this a “derby” knowing that Valencia since the beginning of the season is having problems and they are only on ninth place while in Champions League they the Los Che sit on the third and could be knocked from the same comepetition, while Barcelona is the league topper and has 14 points more than Neville’s side, while in Champions league Barca already booked their ticket for the knockout stage. Both teams this week earlier enrolled Copa del Rey wins and regarding their latest mutual encounters, Barca was more successful. Enrique’s men at home celebrated 2-0, while at Mestalla 1-0.
The crisis of Valencia is growing, and considering that the next match is against Barcelona who are on the hot run, it’s unlikely that any turnaround of Los Che’s situation will happen. In the last round they lost Valencia lost at Sevilla and after that game Nuno Santo stepped down in another attempt to shake up the team from lethargy. New coach Gary Neville is likely only a temporary solution, but with the clear objective to try to salvage this season from complete collapse. It started with a victory, but in Copa del Rey competition, without Neville on the bench.
It was 3: 1 for Valencia and an almost completely reserve team was on the pitch, while against Barcelona of course the first team will play. Still, Neville doesn’t have the strongest available lineup, mostly due to two suspended players in clash with Sevilla. This is one of the biggest reasons for a minimum 1-0 defeat as Cancelo was sent off in the first half, while Fuego in the second half. Because of the injuries are out Mustafa, Piatti, Rodrigo, and Negredo.
At the beginning of the season Barcelona was criticized due to fact that the game is not close to the game from last season, a game which was the key in winning the famous treble, but the Catalans have completed staff and recently are playing and looking unstoppable. Luis Enrique’s men in all competition are doing just fine and if we look at their last five games, Barca smashed 23 goals and conceded only two. In this period in the Champions League, Barca destroyed Roma 6-1, in La Liga Villarreal 3-0, Real Madrid 4-0 and Real Sociedad with at 4-0. This week in Copa del Rey at home with a 6-1 win over Villanovense Barca booked the semi-final place. The attacking trio of Barca: Messi, Neymar and Suarez are scoring in each game, and it doesn’t seems that Valencia will have what it takes to stop them. Against Villanovense Enrigue to the pitch has sent what practially can be called Barca B, meaning that almost all first-team players were rested.
“It is the same case we had when we played against Real Sociedad. We will face again a team under new coaching. All the work we did on analysing Valencia now becomes doubtful. The logic indicates the team will display more or less what we had seen during past weeks. That is the way we will face this game. A difficult one and complicated as every game we play over there in Valencia. Against a team I personally like because they are full of young and quality players.”
Team Probable Lineups
Valencia: Jaume, Vezo, A. Santos, Abdennour, Gaya, Parejo, E. Perez, Danilo, Mina, Alcacer, Bakkali
Out: Orban, Fuego, Cancelo, D. Alves, Mustafi, Feghouli, Barragan, A. Gomes
Barcelona: Bravo, Alba, Mascherano, Pique, D. Alves, Iniesta, Busquets, Rakitić, Neymar, L. Suarez, Messi
Out: Sergi Roberto, Ter Stegen, Mathieu