Barcelona vs Valencia preview

February 2, 2016
By: Nemanja Lazarevic

Valencia vs BarcelonaRed-hot Barcelona play host to out-of-sorts Valencia in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final, and everything suggests this will be a very one-sided affair.

But, considering that Gary Neville helped los Che hold the Catalans to a 1-1 draw in his first game in charge, maybe the history will repeat itself.

Even if they had experienced some unexpected problems near the end of 2015, Barcelona quickly returned to the right track and are now hot favourites to defend the league title.

A seven-match winning run on all fronts ensured the team returned to the La Liga summit, while making it to the Copa del Rey semis, and they achieved another important win this weekend.

Things did not start well for Barcelona as it was their title rivals Atletico that took the lead at Camp Nou, but the Catalans quickly overturned the deficit before the opposition had two men sent off.

As a result, Luis Enrique’s charges now sit three and four points clear of Madrid rivals with a game in hand, meaning the La Liga trophy is theirs to lose.

Barcelona now turn their attention to the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final, where they have been made 1.50 (1/2) favourites for a half-time/full-time win.

Argentine superstar Lionel Messi missed the first training session of the week, but he is expected to feature against Valencia nonetheless.

Probable starting line-up (4-3-3): ter Stegen – Vidal, Pique, Vermaelen, Mathieu – Rakitic, Mascherano, Roberto – Messi, Suarez, Neymar.

Many believed that Valencia owners were mad to appoint Gary Neville as the man to succeed Nuno Espirito Santo and the doubters have since been proved wrong.

The Manchester United icon is still searching for his first La Liga win (D6 L3), with promising Copa del Rey campaign the only positive at the moment.

Nevertheless, we have to take into account that Valencia faced Granada and Las Palmas in the previous stages, and no doubt that the Barcelona clash will be a whole different ball game.

Los Che arrive at Camp Nou on the back of a disappointing home loss to Sporting Gijon, meaning they need to show a massive improvement if they want to keep the tie alive ahead of the return leg.

Deadline day signing Dennis Cheryshev as well as Guilherme Siqueira are both in contention to start against Barcelona, but Paco Alcacer and Javi Fuego are out injured.

Probable starting line-up (4-3-3): Ryan – Barragan, Mustafi, Abdennour, Gaya – Perez, Parejo, Gomes – Rodrigo, Negredo, Piatti.

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