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This Saturday at 4.15pm CET, Barça have their third home league game in a week at Camp Nou and will be looking to make it three wins out of three against Valencia. Here’s our lowdown on the club they call Los Che.
Where are they from?
Valencia is the third largest city in Spain, the fifth largest port in the Mediterranean and the capital of the region of the same name, where many people speak Valencian, a sister-language of Catalan. Its huge historic centre is crammed with buildings to admire, and it’s also the home of Spain’s most famous dish, paella, and of the spectacular fallas festival in March.
The club was founded in 1919, but was not among the founder members of La Liga in 1928. Valencia started in the second division, but won promotion three years later and have stayed there ever since apart one season, 1986/87, when they dropped down to the second.
Despite being one of Europe’s biggest and richest clubs, Valencia have generally played a supporting role to Barça and Real Madrid in La Liga, but have won the title six times, most recently in 2004, and in 2019 beat Barça to claim an eighth Copa del Rey trophy.
They’ve also won all of the big continental trophies apart from the Champions League, in which they were beaten finalists twice in a row in 2000 and 2001.
Did you know?
- Valencia is the third-most supported football club in Spain. No prizes for guessing who the top two are.
- Valencia’s first European trophy was the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1962. They beat Barça in the final.
- The bat on the Valencia logo dates back to the arms of the 13th century King James I of Aragon, but that didn’t stop DC Comics voicing an objection (but not an official lawsuit) against the club in 2013, claiming that it was too similar to the Batman logo
- Two of the biggest stars of the 1978 World Cup, Johnny Rep of the Netherlands and top scorer Mario Kempes of Argentina, were both Valencia players.
- One of the most dramatic games ever played between the clubs came on the final day of the 2002/03 season. Both Valencia (finalists in the previous two editions) and Barça were in danger of missing out on the next season’s Champions League and they met on the final day at Camp Nou. Valencia only needed a draw, and the game was about to end 2-2 when Rivaldo changed everything with a stunning overhead kick in injury time.
- Ronald Koeman was manager of Valencia in the 2007/08 season.
After failing to qualify for Europe last season, 2020/21 has not got off to the best of starts for Valencia. After a decent enough start, including a 1-0 win at current leaders Real Sociedad, they have only won one of their last nine games. However, that solitary victory was an impressive 4-1 destruction of Real Madrid. They are now in the bottom half of the Liga table.
LAST FIVE GAMES
December 12: Valencia 2-2 Athletic Club
December 7: Eibar 0-0 Valencia
November 28: Valencia 0-1 Atlético Madrid
November 22: Alavés 2-2 Valencia
November 8: Valencia 4-1 Real Madrid
Head to head
Valencia’s 2-0 victory at Mestalla in January put an end to a seven-match unbeaten run for Barça against them in the league, although Valencia had also beaten the Catalans in the 2019 Copa del Rey Final.
That was Barça’s first defeat at Mestalla since 2007, but Valencia are no strangers to winning at Camp Nou. They did it in 2014 (3-2) and 2016 (2-1).
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
25/1/20 (LIGA) Valencia 2 Barça 0
14/09/19 (LIGA) Barça 5 (Fati, De Jong, Piqué, Suárez 2) Valencia 2
25/05/19 (COPA) Valencia 2 Barça 1 (Messi)
02/02/19 (LIGA) Barça 2 (Messi 2) Valencia 2
07/10/18 (LIGA) Valencia 1 Barça 1 (Messi)
Jasper Cillessen (Holland, 60); Denis Cheryshev (Russia, 30); Daniel Wass (Denmark, 24); Gonçalo Guedes (Portugal, 22); Maxi Gómez (Uruguay, 19); José Gayà (Spain, 12); Kevin Gameiro (France, 13); Eliaquim Mangala (France, 8), Lee Kang-in (South Korea, 5), Yunus Musah (USA, 2)
Dutch international goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen was at Barça for three seasons, mainly as second choice behind Ter Stegen, and left for Valencia in the summer of 2019.
Top scorers 2020/21
Carlos Soler (5), Manu Vallejo (4), Maxi Gómez (3)
Javi Gracia’s clubs as a player included Real Sociedad and Villarreal. As a manager, he is best known in Spain for two very good years in charge of Málaga, but he has also coached in Greece and Russia and in 2019 led Watford to the FA Cup Final for only the second time ever. He was sacked from that position the following season, and joined Valencia as a replacement for former Barça man Albert Celades last summer.
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