Valencia v Barcelona – Mestalla Stadium at 19:45 Live at Sky Sports

Barcelona sits six points clear at the top of La Liga boasting an almost unblemished record after 12 fixtures. Ernesto Valverde’s charges have dropped only two points (W11-D1-L0) and already hold what appears to be an unassailable 10-point advantage over defending champions Real Madrid.

The Catalans pocketed a 3-0 success from a tricky trip to Leganes last weekend before their great rivals from the capital were held to a goalless draw by Atletico in the Madrid derby. Many Spanish media outlets declared the title race over as Week 12 of the campaign came to a close.

Barcelona wasn’t fantastic at Leganes but Marc-André ter Stegen impressed once more between the sticks and Luis Suarez broke his barren goalscoring streak. And despite their obvious advantage at the summit of Spain, no Blaugrana supporters are getting carried away.

Why? Well… the last the Catalans started a season this well came under Tata Martino and Barcelona failed to win the title. There are still two Clasicos to play and there’s also the small matter of taking on La Liga’s second-placed side on Sunday night, Valencia.

Valencia heading in the right direction

Los Che is back and moving in the right direction following years of frustration, financial problems, fan protests and flattery to deceive.

With Marcelinho in charge, the fallen giants are one of three undefeated (W9-D3-L0) teams in La Liga so far this season, along with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid despite already facing both Atletico and Real Madrid and tough away trips to Real Sociedad and Real Betis.

Valencia has won each of their last eight games – a club record – scoring 28 goals in the process and the Bats have been full value for their positive results.

Los Che’s rejuvenation

Unpopular president Lay Hoon Chan has left with general director Mateu Alemany arriving to takeover the day-to-day running of the club. With a number of bad apples also removed from the dressing room, there’s finally an air of stability and positivity surrounding Valencia with harmony both within Mestalla and the supporters finally in synch.

Marcelinho’s been given the clout to build a team in his own image – fitness obsessed and counter-attacking with pace – and Valencia’s shrewd summer investment has been paying dividends with Goncalo Guedes and Geoffrey Kondogbia particularly impressing.

There’s no better team to watch in Spain right now and their sensational attacking performances – notching at least three goals in six of their last eight fixtures – and with no fresh injury concerns make the hosts well worth supporting at 1.800 with a +0.75 Asian Handicap start on Sunday.

Barcelona will be without suspended center-half Gerard Pique and must also deal with a decisive Champions League group game on Wednesday night in Turin against Juventus, hampering preparation time for the top-two contest.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Valencia +0.75 at 1.800

By @MarkOHaire

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