Friday, January 31, 2014

Barcelona-Valencia Preview: Keita misses out as champions look to continue perfect home record

LIONEL MESSI PEDRO BARCELONA MALAGA LA LIGA 01262014

Barcelona have the opportunity to steal an early march on their title rivals when Valencia visit Camp Nou on Saturday.

With the two Madrid clubs - Atletico and Real - not playing until Sunday, Gerardo Martino's men can temporarily move three points clear of the second-placed Rojiblancos at the summit with a victory.

Barca returned to winning ways in La Liga by beating Malaga weekend, having been held to draws in their previous two fixtures, away to Atletico and Levante.

And history weighs heavily in the hosts'favour in this fixture, with Valencia without a win at Camp Nou since 2003.

The reverse fixture - held in September - ended 3-2 to Barcelona, with Lionel Messi scoring a hat-trick for the visitors, and Helder Postiga grabbing a quick-fire brace to complete the scoring before half-time.

Valencia's form has been unpredictable this season and they have picked up just two Liga wins on the road, while Martino's charges have a 100 per cent winning record from 10 home matches this season.

However, in contrast to Barca, who are yet to do any business in the January transfer window, Valencia have been at the centre of a number of comings and goings in recent days.

This week saw the Mestalla outfit agree a deal to sign Seydou Keita - who will just miss out on making his debut against his former club - while the club allowed Postiga, Andres Guardadoand Dorlan Pabon to leave Mestalla.

Valencia also sealed the permanent signature of Ruben Vezo and a loan deal for Napoli's Eduardo Vargas earlier in the month.

Barca sealed their progression to the Copa del Rey semi-finals by completing a 9-2 aggregate demolition of Levante on Wednesday, while Valencia will have the advantage of a week's rest, after their last outing, a 2-2 draw with Espanyol in La Liga.

Neymar (ankle) is the hosts' only major absence through injury, while Valencia are not thought to have any fresh injury concerns.

Barcelona-Valencia Preview: Keita misses out as champions look to continue perfect home record Rating: 4.5 Posted by: Unknown

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