Valencia CF vs FC Barcelona
September 21st, 2011; 20:00CET
5th matchday, La Liga
Expected Attendance: 55.000
Coaches: Unai Emery and Josep Guardiola
Its that time again in the new season where we face the title defenders and favorites for winning it again FC Barcelona. The matches between Valencia CF and FC Barcelona have always been very entertaining and have attracted huge crowds and a lot of viewership not only in Spain, but all over the world.
While the Barcelona fans are undoubtedly in higher numbers all over the world, Valencia CF does have a good amount of abroad fans considering the fact that Spanish clubs, but Valencia CF in particular haven't really done anything to attract foreign fans and all the support that Valencia CF has over the world is grass roots and grown spontaneously. Obviously helping were the few websites and blogs that covered Valencia CF over the years.
No doubt this is going to be an interesting clash once again and an entertaining game and in a lot of ways its a measurement for Spanish clubs in recent years to assess their strengths against the untouchable Barcelona. This time is different though and even though on paper Barcelona are still the clear favorites I don't think they are and I've already written an article how Valencia CF will destroy Barcelona.
I'm pretty sure that with the injuries of Iniesta and Alexis Sanchez, Valencia CF will have an easier time and watching all Barcelona games since the start of the competitions I'd have to say with absolute certainty that David Villa is out of form and even though he still possesses his amazing technique he has become slower, clumsier and has even lost some of his mental strength. I can say the same thing about Xavi who even though still possesses the possessions skills, he lack pace, he lacks the piercing through passes that he's been very well known for over the years and is generally a lot more average as of late.
I think this is going to be a good match for Valencia CF and I'm a little worried since it comes very quickly in the season and the team has too many new signings and hasn't had the time to gel yet, so from that point I'm a little bit comprehensive, but we are going to see what happens.
The contrast between these two clubs is huge, especially in recent years, but when these two sides meet on the grass what matters is only the performance on the pitch and nothing else.
Head to Head
Valencia CF is coming to this match after an important victory over Sporting Gijon this last weekend, albeit a small 1-0 victory. What is important is that the defense hasn't conceded any goals in three matches already, since the Rami and Ruiz duo took over. This match against FC Barcelona is going to be the important assessment though whether the defensive duo is really good or has it been just lucky with weaker opposition. By the way the first La Liga match (2nd technically) Valencia CF conceded 3 goals by Racing with the duo of Rami and Costa, but lets wait and see about the new duo and how good it is.
Valencia CF also had a little bit disappointing start to the champions league with a draw against Genk, although Valencia played away and every champions league team is good if its managed to qualify for the Champions league group stages, but still most of us expected a comprehensive win against them and it didn't happen. The positives from that match are that Pablo Hernandez, Tino Costa and Canales were rested and all are likely to start against Barcelona.
So far so good for Valencia CF in the Spanish league with 9 out of 9 points and is currently sitting in first position ahead of Real Madrid and Barcelona. Soldado has been in good form, although I didn't like some of the great chances he missed against Gijon, Pablo has thankfully been in good form and is one of the most important players for Valencia CF and Ever Banega has played so far so good and seems really motivated to prove himself. Maybe not having Chori influencing him in bad ways is paying off?!
Mehmet Topal is injured and will be out for 2 to 3 weeks with a shoulder injury, but other than him everyone right now is fit and ready to face Barcelona. Valencia CF vs FC Barcelona is going to be a really interesting match.
Valencia CF squad:
Goalkeepers: Vicente Guaita, Diego Alves
Defenders: Miguel Brito, Bruno Saltor, Adil Rami, Víctor Ruiz, Jordi Alba, Jérémy Mathieu
Midfielders: David Albelda, Hedwiges Maduro, Tino Costa, Éver Banega, Pablo Piatti, Pablo Hernández, Sergio Canales
Forwards: Roberto Soldado, Jonas Gonçalves, Aritz Aduriz
FC Barcelona on the other hand is coming to this match having silenced their doubters and skeptics with a comprehensive victory of 8-0 over Osasuna this past weekend. This victory was very important for Barcelona because they had sort of a mini crisis with two draws in just few short days. Their first draw came in the Spanish league with Real Sociedad; 2-2. Then came their second draw with Milan in the Champions league. Even though Barcelona had most of the play against Milan and created way more chances for goal, they really seemed vulnerable at the back.
In that regard Barcelona have some great news as Puyol has been playing the last 2 matches some minutes and seems ready to step up and take his spot in the back four.
Last year the most trouble that Barcelona had was against Valencia CF in both the matches and Valencia CF was the best and only team to take the game to Barcelona and have as much as 49% possession. Valencia CF also scored first in the second match and had several more opportunities to increase their lead, but just didn't have enough luck. In the second half though Barcelona pressed and managed to get more of the possession and were the more dangerous team and ultimately scored two goals and won.
The most dangerous player for Barcelona is of course Lionel Messi as he is able to single-handedly win games, Bearcelona would otherwise struggle to win. He has incredible dribbling skill, pace and passing range and is the most important player. If Valencia CF want to stop Barcelona from scoring they must shut down Messi completely. Players like Cesc Fabregas and Xavi are good, but Messi is on another level.
FC Barcelona are quite weakened as they are without the injured Iniesta and Alexis Sanchez, although this year they have Cesc Fabregas and Thiago who can come in and fill the shoes. They also have good news and that is that Affelay returned from injury and even got some minutes in their last game against Osasuna.
FC Barcelona squad:
Goalkeepers: Víctor Valdés, José Manuel Pinto
Defenders: Dani Alves, Carles Puyol, Javier Mascherano, Maxwell Scherrer, Adriano Correia, Éric Abidal, Andreu Fontàs
Midfielders: Cesc Fàbregas, Xavi Hernández, Thiago Alcántara, Seydou Keita, Sergio Busquets
Forwards: David Villa, Lionel Messi, Pedro Rodríguez, Ibrahim Afellay
Technical Details Valencia CF (probable setups):
Line-up: Guaita; Miguel, Rami, Ruiz, Mathieu; Albelda, Tino; Banega; Pablo, Alba; Soldado.
Tactics: Low defensive line, own half pressure, double left side cover, high frequency wing attacks, counter attacks, mixed passing.
Technical Details FC Barcelona (probable setups):
Line-up: Valdes; Alves, Mascherano, Puyol, Abidal; Xavi, Busquets, Cesc; Thiago, Messi, Adriano.
Tactics: Medium defensive line, interchangeable right wing, double right side cover, bore VCF to death with endless circle passes that pose no danger and when all fell asleep score a goal.
Valencia CF 2-1 FC Barcelona
Valencia CF hasn't had enough time to gel yet and this may cause few problems, but Emery is likely to field players from last year and bench Canales, Piatti and the likes. Barcelona should be pretty tired as they haven't changed much in all their matches and with Iniesta and Alexis injured they are forced to play the same squad. Ultimately Valencia CF will be better and beat Barcelona 2-1.