It is similar stories for both Barcelona and Valencia ahead of their meeting at the Nou Camp tonight (8.30pm BST). Both teams have been forced into a change of manager over the summer and, as if they did not have enough negatives in common, both are looking vulnerable in defence.
The big upset for Barcelona in recent days was their loss to Real Madrid over two legs in the Spanish Super Cup. Barcelona were outplayed and had little answer to Real Madrid’s lightning quick attacks.
At this stage, it seems Barcelona’s problems of last year have carried over into this season. The team are lacking in defensive aggression to win the ball back high up the pitch, and specifically against Madrid, their ball retention was not as successful as we’ve seen in the past.
Tito Vilanova has a big task on his hands to ensure this team do not allow the mistakes of last season to haunt his side during this campaign.
On the injury front, Dani Alves is now in training following his withdrawal just ahead of the tie with Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. In addition, the manager may have Carles Puyol available after the defender missed out in midweek with a fractured cheekbone. Thiago Alcantara is still out injured.
Javier Mascherano, if picked, will really need to up his game against Valencia. The Argentine was woeful at centre-back for much of the first half against Madrid, and the manager will be hoping for a much better showing this Sunday.
Alexis really hasn’t impressed me in recent weeks in attack for Barcelona, while Cesc Fabregas remains on the fringes and struggling to find his place in the starting XI. The obvious roll over from last season is Barcelona’s reliance on Lionel Messi for goals.
With David Villa able to come off the bench and Pedro looking good in attack, hopefully there will be a little more from Barcelona’s frontline going forward.
For Valencia and new manager Mauricio Pellegrino, the team are still looking for their first win in La Liga following an opening weekend 1-1 draw at Real Madrid and a 3-3 draw at home to Deportivo.
Valencia captain Roberto Soldado is in good form, having scored two goals last weekend and he had a good goal against Madrid wrongly ruled out for offside. As always, Valencia will be relying on his instincts around the box.
I certainly fancy Soldado to capitalise on a shaky Barcelona defence and get himself on the score sheet.
Disappointingly, Sergio Canales is still out with injury, as is Ever Benega. In addition, the midfield for Valencia really didn’t look too convincing last week against Deportivo.
Pellegrino is sure to set his Valencia side up to be defensive for much of the game and counterattack when an opportunity arises. Once again, it will very much be a game dominated by the home side Barcelona.
Barcelona v Valencia Betting Tips Conclusion
I don’t expect Valencia to come away from the Nou Camp with all three points, and despite their own problems, Barcelona should be able to wrap up the win.