Barcelona remains undefeated in La Liga but will have to find a way to rebound from its shocking collapse vs. Roma in the Champions League quarterfinals.

By 90Min
April 13, 2018

Barcelona will need to rally quickly from their shock defeat to Roma in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals, as they face in form Valencia in their next La Liga fixture. 

Barcelona's unbeaten run in the league remains perhaps the only redeeming feature of their season and have a tough task to maintain it on Saturday. 

Valencia are on an unbeaten run themselves and have overtaken Real Madrid to claim third spot in the table. Los Che could sense an opportunity to cause another upset this weekend. 


Classic Encounter

Barcelona have inflicted a number of heavy defeats on Valencia over the years. 7-0, 5-1, 6-0, and 4-0 have been some of the scorelines which Los Che may want to forget. But Valencia have occasionally got the better of Barca, such as the time they managed a 3-2 victory away from home in February 2014. 

Barcelona were on a run of 25 successive wins at the Camp Nou and had not lost at home in the league since April 2012 before their meeting with Valencia. 

It stated off as business as usual for Barca as Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring in the seventh minute. But at the stroke of half time, Valencia managed to respond a drew level thanks to a Dani Parejo goal. 

Valencia then found themselves leading at the Camp Nou early in the second half when the diminutive Pablo Piatti headed in for the visitors. A handball in the box gave Barcelona a penalty, which Lionel Messi dutifully put away to level the game up once again.

But it was not long before Valencia were leading again. Five minutes later, Paco Alcacer added Valencia's third. The game worsened for Barcelona after former Els Taronges defender Jordi Alba received a red card for a second bookable offense. 

Barcelona would remain top of La Liga, but their lead would be reduced to just goal difference after being humbled at home. 


Key Battle

Philippe Coutinho vs Geoffrey Kondogbia

After only being able to helplessly watch on as his side crashed out of the Champions League, Philippe Coutinho will want to aim to ensure Barcelona have a strong end to their domestic season. 

The Brazilian scored his first goal for his new club against Valencia in the Copa del Rey semifinals. Since then, Coutinho has scored twice more for Barca and has two assists in his last two matches. 

There might be a part of Coutinho which is watching Liverpool's run into the Champions League semifinals with an ounce of envy or regret. He will want to prove he made the right move in leaving Anfield by ending the season with a domestic double. 

Geoffrey Kondogbia has proven a shrewd signing by Valencia. On loan from Inter, the French defensive midfielder has been instrumental to the side's league run which has seen them overtake Real Madrid into third place. 

Kondogbia's strengths lie in his defensive contributions, and he will be tasked with intercepting the defense-splitting passes and runs of Barcelona's formidable attacking force. The Frenchman also has some attacking flair and has contributed four goals and four assists in the league this term.


Team News 

Ivan Rakitic fractured his finger in the Champions League defeat to Roma. The midfielder has undergone surgery in a bid to be fit in time for the Copa del Rey final, so will be unavailable on Saturday. Lucas Digne (hamstring) and Sergi Samper (ankle) are Barcelona's only other injury concerns. 

For Valencia, Francis Coquelin is out for the rest of the season after rupturing his Achilles tendon in March. Los Che are on course for their highest league finish since 2012. They will be aiming to make it 10 straight league games without defeat on Saturday. 

Potential Barcelona Starting Lineup: ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Busquets, Iniesta; Dembele, Messi, Coutinho; Suarez 

Potential Valencia Starting Lineup: Neto; Montoya, Garay, Gabriel, Gaya; C. Soler, Parejo, Kondogbia, Guedes; Zaza, Rodrigo


Prediction

This game is probably coming at the perfect time for Valencia. After Barcelona's shock elimination from the Champions League, Valencia could take advantage of their opponent's possible fragility. 

Roma's victory at the Camp Nou proves that Barcelona are not invincible, especially at home. Barca have also been lucky to maintain their unbeaten run at time this season. They recently had to score two late goals at Sevilla to salvage a 2-2 draw. 

Valencia have a respectable record at the Camp Nou and have won at Barcelona's ground twice in four La Liga visits. After a dip in form in February, Valencia are now on a run of nine straight league games without defeat. If Barcelona are going to slip up at all in La Liga this term, now could be the time.

Prediction: Barcelona 1-2 Valencia

You May Like

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)