Tito and the squad looks set to bounce back from the recent defeat in the Supercopa to notch 9 points from three games in La Liga. How difficult will it be for Barcelona? How will Valencia look to modify their game to answer Barcelona? Find out about this and more after the jump.
Valencia shall visit Camp Nou with only two points under their belt, but don’t let the two draws fool you as Barcelona could have easily shared the same fate if Xavi hadn’t rescued the team rhythm last week in Osasuna. The managers in charge of both team have just started this season, although they are both familiar with the club already. Mauricio Pellegrino partnered the defence along with Roberto Ayala in Valencia’s from 1999-2005 where they reached Champions League final two years in a row and also would win two La Ligas. He is not a stranger to success and expect a really hard fought match today.
In their first two matches in La Liga, it is apparent that Pellegrino favours a direct approach to the game. They didn’t seek superiority in ball possession even when playing Deportivo and that can both be their edge or their undoing. Ricardo Costa, their center back, didn’t seem to cope well with the frantic pace of the game and got himself sent off after two yellows against Deportivo; on the other hand, Valencia’s goal come from a fast break with Soldado, Feghouli, and Jonas all showing great understanding with each other.
Expect Valencia to field another 4-4-2 or a 4-5-1 with Soldado the lone striker up front and Jonas being dropped to get Parejo in the midfield. Although with the arrival of Aly Cissokho for left back, don’t be surprised if Mathieu is deployed in midfield as another option for Valencia.
Therefore, the battle to look for the most resides in both flanks. Jordi Alba will square off against Feghouli, Valencia’s new right back Pereira will go against Barcelona’s left winger (maybe Alexis?), Dani Alves will go head to head with Andres Guardado, meanwhile Pedro will go against Cissokho; these are the battles that Barcelona can’t afford to lose. Valencia will definitely play wide and leave a lot of room among their players so they can cover a lot of the pitch in transition.
Will Song receive his first debut in Camp Nou or will Tito favour Cesc for the job tonight? With Valencia very keen on playing wide and Barcelona themselves having two fullbacks who can operate very well on the flanks, it might be time for Tito to try Cesc as one of the front three. Cesc will provide link up play and threats from late runs as he showed in the Euro. With Pedro being the only other forward aside from Messi who is in form, it might be a good time for Tito to do this.
Barcelona have to improve defensively, as we haven’t notched a single clean sheet so far this season
|FC Barcelona||5 – 1||Real Sociedad|
|FC Barcelona||3 – 2||Real Madrid|
|Osasuna||1 – 2||FC Barcelona|
|Real Madrid||2 – 1||FC Barcelona|
Song will be available to make his Camp Nou debut today, but he might not start. Thiago, Dani Alves, and Puyol have been training with the squad but I can see Mascherano and Pique starting again tonight. Afellay has gone to Schalke but Jonathan dos Santos and Fontas are not going anywhere at least until December.
Predicted Starting XI: Valdés; Alves,Mascherano, Piqué, Alba; Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta; Pedro, Messi, Fàbregas
Valencia will hope that their direct approach will yield some more positive result, but they will be happy with a draw tonight.
|Real Madrid||1 – 1||Valencia CF|
|Valencia CF||3 – 3||Deportivo|
Valencia will be without suspended Ricardo Costa. Gago and Mathieu received a late medical clearance to play but Ever Banega is still unavailable for them because of his injury. Aly Cissokho might receive a debut tonight at left back.
Predicted Starting XI: Diego Alves; Pereira, Rami, Ruiz, Cissokho; Feghouli, Tino Costa, Mathieu, Gago, Guardado; Soldado
Valencia will start their pressure up front so Barcelona’s defense need to up their game if they want to keep possession in transition. Tito will learn from the Madrid game and will not put the defensive line as high. If Cesc is indeed starting the game, then he has to take responsibility and make anarchic runs that made him score so many goals last season.
FC Barcelona 3 – 1 Valencia CF
Image Credit: David Ramos/Getty Images