Despite having a thumping win over Manchester City in the midweek Champions League fixture, Barcelona find themselves in a difficult situation owing to the crucial injuries suffered by centre back Gerard Pique and left back Jordi Alba.
An encouraging performance none the less by the Blaugrana, which saw Messi score another hat trick against his former manager Pep Guardiola. Barcelona will once again be with their first choice attacking trio of Luis Suarez, Neymar, and Lionel Messi after a break due to minor injuries.
However, what will concern Luis Enrique are his players at the back. To add his woes, Jeremy Mathieu’s silly defending with a lunging tackle on Sterling when his team was comfortably winning 3-0, is sure to raise doubts at Enrique’s mind about starting him against Valencia CF.
Valencia will be coming to the game with high spirits after an away win against Sporting de Gijon. Their star midfielder Mario Suarez thumping in two in their last La Liga win.
Enrique will stick to Ter Stegen at the goal posts in the weekend after the young 24-year-old has been promising, barring few hiccups.
The real problem will be the defence pairing for Enrique. Without Jordi Alba and Gerard Pique, Enrique, though having few options to replace, will have to largely experiment against Valencia. Umtiti is expected to take his place at the centre with Mathieu or with Mascherano if Enrique chooses otherwise. Lucas Digne could be placed down the side back.
Enrique is expected to place a 4- man defence with little movement at the flanks.
With Mascherano and Digne having to fall back, Enrique will have majorly depend upon Andres Iniesta, Arda Turan, Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic to generate from the centre of the field. With options of Rafinha and Andre Gomes to come in as the game progresses, it is safe to say Enrique has a pretty reliable midfield, who could do decently against Valencia.
The biggest onus of winning the match for Barcelona will be on Neymar, Messi, and Suarez. And judging by their linkup play and combined record, they pretty much do it every time. Messi has taken no time to open his score sheet once again after returning from injury. Getting past 3 against Claudio Bravo will surely instill more confidence in the Argentine.
Neymar missed a penalty yet again in the midweek, but soon mend it up by scoring one at the dying minutes of the game.
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