LaLiga Matchweek 14 preview: FC Barcelona vs. Valencia CF (Sat - 16:15h. CET) - Team news, lineups

Barcelona will be targeting a third straight victory in Spain's top flight when they welcome an inconsistent Valencia to Camp Nou on Saturday afternoon.

Ronald Koeman's side have won their last two in La Liga to move into fifth position in the table, while Valencia currently occupy 12th, having won just three of their 13 league matches this season.

Match preview

There is no getting away from the fact that Barca have struggled in La Liga this term, dropping points in half of their 12 matches, suffering four defeats in the process.

The Catalan giants have picked up six points from the last six available, though, overcoming Levante last weekend before recording a huge 2-1 victory at home to Real Sociedad on Wednesday night courtesy of goals from Jordi Alba and Frenkie de Jong.

Koeman's side have moved into fifth spot in the table and are only six points behind leaders Atletico Madrid, although Diego Simeone's side also have a game in hand and therefore Barca have plenty of work to do if they are to pull themselves into a title race in the second half of the campaign.

The hosts, who will take on Paris Saint-Germain in the last-16 stage of the Champions League, will be looking to end 2020 with three straight wins over Valencia, Real Valladolid and Eibar, and a positive finish to the year would likely leave the team in a strong position in the table heading into 2021.

Barca recorded a 5-2 win over Valencia in the corresponding game last season, but they have only been victorious in one of their last four matches with Los Che in Spain's top flight.

Valencia, as mentioned, have struggled for consistency this season, picking up just 14 points from their 13 matches to sit down in 12th spot in the table ahead of the next set of fixtures.

A number of important players left Los Che over the summer, and there have been plenty of off-the-field issues this term, with head coach Javi Gracia previously admitting that he wants to leave the Mestalla and was only remaining at the club due to a contractual obligation.

Gracia's side recorded a 4-2 win over Terrassa in the first round of the Copa del Rey on Wednesday night, but they are without a victory in the league since beating Real Madrid 4-1 at home on November 8.

Only three points have arrived in their last four matches, but the six-time La Liga champions have lost just once in Spain's top flight since October 23 and are certainly capable of harming Koeman's team.

Barcelona La Liga form: WLWLWW
Barcelona form (all competitions): WWLLWW

Valencia La Liga form: DWDLDD
Valencia form (all competitions): WDLDDW

Team News

Barca will again be unable to call upon Ansu Fati, Sergi Roberto, Gerard Pique and Ousmane Dembele against Valencia, but the Catalan side did not suffer any fresh issues against Sociedad.

Clement Lenglet is in line to replace Oscar Mingueza in the middle of the defence, but it could otherwise be the same XI that started Wednesday's clash with the Basque club.

Martin Braithwaite is again expected to keep out Philippe Coutinho to start on the left, with Pedri and Antoine Griezmann also likely to retain their spots alongside Lionel Messi in attack.

As for Valencia, Kevin Gameiro and Jasper Cillessen are still unavailable through injury, while Toni Lato will not be involved, having recently tested positive for coronavirus.

Jose Gaya has returned from a hamstring problem, though, and should take Lato's spot in the XI, while Mouctar Diakhaby is likely to get the nod over Eliaquim Mangala and Hugo Guillamon at the back.

Manu Vallejo was on the scoresheet against Athletic Bilbao last weekend and should keep his spot alongside Maxi Gomez in attack, while Goncalo Guedes, Carlos Soler and Yunus Musah, who all scored off the bench in the Copa del Rey earlier this week, should return to the starting side.

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Dest, Araujo, Lenglet, Alba; De Jong, Busquets; Braithwaite, Pedri, Griezmann; Messi

Valencia possible starting lineup:
Domenech; Wass, Paulista, Diakhaby, Gaya; Musah, Racic, Soler, Guedes; Vallejo, Gomez

Source: Sports Mole / Matt Law 




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