So just 3 days after our win in Mallorca, we now travel to Valencia for what is the 2nd or 3rd most difficult domestic fixture in the year. Our last two visits there have been very tough. Last year we drew 0-0 in a game we could have definitely lost and two years back we drew 2-2 thanks to a very welcomed equalizer from Thierry Henry. There are a few strange stories surrounding this game. Firstly, David Villa is obviously returning to the club that essentially made him the superstar he is now, without question, he has many fond memories of his time at that club. He will however be in court at 9:15 am in the north of Spain where his former agent, Jose Luis Tamargo, is suing him for 6 million Euro related to breach of contract and some clauses of the Barcelona deal. However, Barcelona have flexed some financial muscle and hired him a private plane to be in Valencia, so no issues with that. The stranger of the stories is surrounding our “mister”. Pep Guardiola is apparently suffering with some painful backache and has been recommended not to travel and rest. In that case, his number two Tito Vilanova takes the lead role. Personally, I cannot see Pep missing such a huge game just for some back pain. I have no doubt its painful, but he seems to passionate and committed a guy not to come to such a clutch match.
So in terms of the 11 we are likely to put out tomorrow, it’s going to be as good as possible really. Pinto obviously is still in for the injured Valdes, Alves returns from suspension on the right, and Abidal will once again start in the middle with Pique, with Maxwell on the left. Midfield wise, Iniesta and Busquets will definitely start, but the man to join them is in doubt. Xavi has been declared fit again and trained with the team normally so he could start. Otherwise, I’d put my money on Keita after his great game Saturday and the fact Pep just loves him. The deadly trident upfront will start as per normal.
Valencia wise, they sit in their familiar 3rd spot. Already 17 points off us and 10 from Madrid, 3rd is pretty much the best they can do. At home they are always a force and with a record of 8W, 4D, and 1L, we can see they are strong but not impossible. The major selection crisis facing Emery tonight is at right back. Miguel has been left out the squad due to discipline issues and Bruno is injured. Emery is also without key striker Aduriz, who I personally think is very talented and dangerous as well as new man Mehmet Topal. Now, as much as they have some talent in the likes of Hernandez, Mata, Joaquin, and Soldado, who is having a really solid year, the team still has some less than impressive players. Maduro is a weak-link and I don’t think either of Stankevicius nor David Navarro are defenders that scare the likes of Villa or Messi. However, watch out for Frenchman Mathieu going forward, he gave us a seriously hard time last year.
That’s it. These matches are usually very tense and exciting and I doubt tomorrow will be no different. Madrid are obviously very much hoping we drop points tonight but getting another 3 points would be just fantastic not only for us, but I think it will slightly crush the hopes and dreams of the men from the capital.
Enjoy the game readers. Força Barça.