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Following an international break, La Liga is back and Barça will be facing Valencia on Sunday night (9.00pm CEST) in the first game for a year in a half in front of an unlimited crowd at Camp Nou. 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.
By their usual standards, 2020/21 was a very poor season for Valencia. They finished 13th in the league and got no further than the round of 16 in the cup.
2021/22 got off to a much brighter start, with 10 points from a possible 12, but they have followed that with just two of the next 12 points on offer and have dropped fro third to eighth
LAST FIVE GAMES
October 2: Cadiz 0-0 Valencia
September 25: Valencia 1-1 Athletic Club
September 22: Sevilla 3-1 Valencia
September 19: Valencia 1-2 Real Madrid
September 12: Osasuna 1-4 Valencia
Head to head
Valencia have only won three of their last 28 league meetings with Barça, and their 2-0 win in 2020 was their first at home to Barça since 2007. The other two victories were both at Camp Nou, 3-2 in 2014 and 2-1 in 2016, so although it’s rare, they are no strangers to winning here.
Their recent form against Barça has actually been quite strong, with just two defeats in the last seven meetings, including victory in the 2019 Copa del Rey Final.
They managed to take a point from their visit to Camp Nou last season, with Maxi Gomez snatching a 2-2 draw after Messi and Araujo had cancelled out Mouctar Diakhaby’s opener.
Valencia also scored first at Mestalla, but Barça ended up taking that one 3-2.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
2/5/21 (LIGA) Valencia 2 Barça 3 (Messi 2, Griezmann)
19/12/20 (LIGA) Barça 2 (Messi, Araujo) Valencia 2
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)
Jasper Cillessen (Holland, 60); Denis Cheryshev (Russia, 33); Daniel Wass (Denmark, 37); Gonçalo Guedes (Portugal, 28); Maxi Gómez (Uruguay, 22); José Gayà (Spain, 16); Yunus Musah (USA, 8), Omar Alderete (Paraguay, 8)
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. However, Giorgi Mamardashvili has been the preferred choice in goal thus far this season.
Winger Alex Blanco was part of Barça’s youth setup for two years from 2014–16 before returning to Valencia.
Top scorers 2021/22
Carlos Soler (3), Gonçalo Guedes (2), Hugo Duro (2)
José Bordalás spent most of his life playing and managing clubs in the Alicante region, but gained his reputation among coaching circles when he guided both Alavés and Getafe to promotion to La Liga, very nearly qualifying the latter for the Champions League. During the summer he accepted the Valencia job that was vacant since the dismissal of Javi Gracia in the wake of the 3-2 defeat to Barça. Voro had served as caretaker coach in the meantime.
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