Valencia v Barcelona – Mestalla Stadium at 19:30 live on Sky Sports 2
It’s hard to think of a managerial move that was greeted with more intrigue, surprise and excitement as Gary Neville’s at Valencia on Wednesday afternoon.
On Thursday the British football media focussed almost entirely on the Mestalla as the star of Sky Sports’ punditry was unveiled as Los Che’s new head coach with Neville accepting he must prove his credentials to those who believe Valencia have made a “risky” appointment.
Gary won’t take charge of his first game until next week’s Champions League clash with Lyon but his new club are in desperate need for pointers and an upturn in performances.
As predicted in last weekend’s Valencia v Sevilla preview, Nuno Espirito Santo lost his job (some say sacked, some say resigned) following a limp 1-0 loss in Sevilla. Los Che failed to fire a single shot on-target and accusations they’ve lost their quality, organisation, character and identity over the summer is a more than fair assessment.
Valencia have been awful in 2015/16; poor results, even worse displays and the dynamism and charisma that came alongside their run to fourth in La Liga under Nuno last time out has long dissipated.
Unluckily for the Bats, their next game presents quite a problem. Not only are they facing the European champions and might of Barcelona but Valencia are suffering a severe injury crisis, especially in defence.
Joao Cancelo, Antonio Barragan, Javi Fuego and Shkodran Mustafi are all set to miss Saturday night’s showdown meaning Ruben Vezo may be forced to play at right-back with Aderllan Santos partnering Aymen Abdennour at centre-half.
Los Che are unbeaten in 18 at the Mestalla but they’ve lost seven of their last 10 when welcoming Barca or Real Madrid and managed just a solitary victory in 16 La Liga battles against the Catalans (W1-D4-L11). They’ve also failed to land three points in any of their last eight at home to the Bluagrana.
Luis Enrique’s super stars arrive on the back of six consecutive league wins (all by at least a two-goal margin) notching at least three goals on five occasions. They’ve scored 23 goals in their last five competitive matches and come out on top in 13 of their most recent 16 La Liga away trips.
Lionel Messi is back fit and firing while Neymar and Luis Suarez have been tormenting teams in recent weeks. The trio are the best three players on the planet right now and have netted 30 of Barcelona’s 33 goals in league action this season. When all three are fit and firing, they’re almost unstoppable.
No major rocket science is required here, just a simple play on Barcelona -1.5 in the Asian Handicap at 1.88.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Barcelona -1.5 at 1.88
Prices correct at time of writing.
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