Stadium: Nou Camp
Date: 02.09.2012; 21:30 CET
3rd matchday, La Liga
Coaches: Tito Villanova and Mauricio Pellegrino
FC Barcelona are coming to this match after a hard fought victory against CA. Osasuna at El Sadar, Pamplona, some say the hardest place for any team to travel to and they might be right, as FC Barcelona almost lost the match and only a late second half brace by who else if not Lionel Messi saved Barcelona from the jaws of defeat, some would say undeserving and with the help of the referee. Thing is there has been so many bad calls by referees these days its really ridiculous and one can always claim there to be something, certainly Valencia CF has had the referee experience playing against Real Madrid each year and there always being controversies as the referee decisions go to Real Madrid's benefit.
So for each fans they would see these decisions differently and so Barcelona fans may argue, its about time some decisions went our way, after last season decisions going against us.
Refereeing decisions aside, Barcelona played a tiring match against Real Madrid for the Spanish Super Cup just a few days before their match against Osasuna and were likely a bit worn off. For the match against Valencia CF that is going to be the case as well as Barcelona are coming in lesser force and probably quite a bit tired and demoralized after a devastating away goal loss to Real Madrid, to loose the Super Cup title. While the cup loss within itself is not that big of a deal, its really a glorified friendly match that does not bring any money or prestige, though loosing to a rival like Real Madrid is not something you want and in that sense it was more important than it would have otherwise been.
After such loss, Barcelona will be looking to continue their winning ways against Valencia CF in the Spanish league and make it three wins in three match to have themselves a little winning streak and possibly forget about the loss to Real Madrid.
FC Barcelona are top of La Liga table right now with 6 points from 2 matches and most goals scored at 7 even this early in the competition. One thing that might trouble Barcelona is their huge reliance on Lionel Messi to win matches in tight and hard games like the last one vs Osasuna. If not for Lionel Messi, Barcelona would have most likely lost that match and things would have been very different right now, as it stands they are in a better position and Messi is the key player, but he can not be in full form and fitness all the time and there may be injuries as well.
Barcelona fans will be relieved with the return of David Villa though, who scored on his first match after coming from a season long injury to help Barcelona cruise 5-0 past Real Sociedad in their opening season match. Another name that returned from long injury is Puyol so that is good news for Barcelona as well, with few other players fully fit as well that had some injury woes.
FC Barcelona coach Tito Villanova is likely to field pretty much the same squad that started against Real Madrid in the super cup, as it seems he's decided on the starting eleven quite firmly, with possibly one or two changes due to tiredness and the old trio of Xavi, Busquets and Iniesta starting in the middle, with Sanchez and Pedro on the wings forward and Messi in the central striker role. We might see Fabregas incorporated maybe for Iniesta or even see Villa instead of either Pedro or Sanchez, but I can't see any bigger changes that Barcelona coach Tito can and or will make.
FC Barcelona squad:
Line-up: Valdes; Montoya, Mascherano, Pique, Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta; Sanchez, Messi, Pedro.
Tactics: High defensive line, all round pressure, keep possession, mostly short circular passing, tripling up on the right wing.
Valencia CFValencia CF on the other hand is coming to this match after a devastating draw against Deportivo La Coruna in the Mestalla in the first match of the season in front of the home crowd. Not a start you want to have, Pellegrino should be furious, especially since Valencia CF squandered off a big 3-1 lead they had at half time. Thing is Valencia CF started the season in the best possible fashion, drawing with last season's champions Real Madrid and all it needed was a win at home to make the draw against Real Madrid count and the team failed.
Valencia CF was playing some amazing football in the first half, especially the first 25-30 minutes, one would think by the performance we would easily challenge Barcelona and Real Madrid for the title, but then Gago was injured, he was replaced with Daniel Parejo and all heal broke loose. Even though Parejo provided the assist for the third Valencia CF goal, immediately after coming on, he was unable to do what Gago was doing so damn good and that is retain ball control. Not only that Parejo doesn't have any defensive skills and while Gago is not a real defensive midfield, not a destroyer like Albelda is, he knows how to defend quite good, but Parejo lack the ball controlling skills that make for a solid center midfielder. Between Parejo and Tino Costa both are essentially attacking midfielders who lack the ball retention skills that Fernando Gago and Ever Banega posses.
So coming in the second half Deportivo started to slowly but surely dominate the game and attack after attack they found cracks in our weak defense. To help them out additionally was Ricardo Costa who gave away a needless penalty and got himself dismissed with a second yellow card, meaning he would miss the match against Barcelona and Valencia CF now only has 2 defenders and will have to call up some defender from the B team, possibly Quantilla, Delgado and I was thinking Pardo as well, but he has now been released from the B team and signed for another team. He was also 24 years old, but wasn't good enough and couldn't make the jump to the first team.
Right now Valencia CF has only two points from two matches and we desperately need a win if we are not to have one of the worst starts in recent history. The schedule doesn't help us at all and going against Barcelona at their own stadium is really bad, although with the recent loss to Real Madrid for the supercopa we might have a chance to at least get a point. Judging from Barcelona's match against Osasuna they were coming into that match after the first leg of the supercopa and were quite tired and ineffective, barely winning with some questionable refereeing. So Valencia CF should theoretically do better than Osasuna and at least get a draw here, if not win.
Our attack has been quite potent with the players scoring even from small chances, last match Soldado and especially Jonas were on fire and we can see the strength our attack posses, so I'm quite confident in our attack, its the midfield I'm worried about. Yeah the defense is lacking as well, but they can hang in as long as their is good cover in front of them and with Gago injured and possibly missing the match, I feel our midfield is going to be completely destroyed by Barcelona who are the masters of possession football.
Valencia CF squad:
Goalkeepers: Diego Alves, Vicente Guaita
Defenders: Joao Pereira, Antonio Barragán, Adil Rami, Víctor Ruiz, Aly Cissokho, Jeremy Mathieu
Midfielders: David Albelda, Fernando Gago, Tino Costa, Daniel Parejo, Sofiane Feghouli, Juan Bernat, Andres Guardado, Jonathan Viera
Forwards: Jonas Goncalves, Pablo Piatti, Nelson Valdez, Roberto Soldado
Technical Details Valencia CF (probable setups):
Line-up: Diego; Pereira, Rami, Ruiz, Cissokho; Albelda, Tino Costa; Feghuoli, Jonas, Guardado; Soldado.
Tactics: Low defensive line, own half pressure, counterattacking, mostly long wide passing, doubling down on the left side.
FC Barcelona 3-2 Valencia CF
This is a very hard prediction, because I don't know if Gago will be fit for the match and exactly which players will Pellegrino play. With Emery it was easy, because I knew his style, I knew the formations and players he would do, with Barcelona he started with two left backs, that was his signature move, but with Pellegrino his style is still a mystery.
So basically for my results prediction I'm going from historical results and with our defense being rather trim this season I will say we are going to see lot of goals. Barcelona are going to be a bit tired from their Supercopa match against Real Madrid, so that may give us a chance to do something, but as I said not knowing Pellegrino style its really hard to say how he will set up the team and which players he'll select exactly. This is why I'm predicting more goals and Barcelona just barely edging us as always.