Since Ernesto Valverde took over on the manager’s bench in the Mestalla, Valencia has changed from mid to lower table no-hopers to challengers for the coveted European places.
They currently lie seventh in the table, just two points off the fourth Champions League spot, thanks to a run of five wins in seven matches. Both defeats came at home: 0-1 against Rayo and a 0-5 thrashing against Real Madrid.
Valdverde’s players have scored two or more goals in four of their five recent wins, the best result coming in week 17 with a 4-2 victory against Getafe. Sevilla, Osasuna, Granada and Deportivo have all leaked goals against a hungry Valencia attack.
If scoring goals is Valencia’s strong point, the same cannot be said about their defensive record. They’ve only kept two clean sheets in the seven matches at the orders of Ernesto Valverde. Giving the free scoring nature of the current Barça squad, the Valencia boss will have to come up with something special to stop an in-form Leo Messi as well as players like Cesc and Iniesta.
The draw specialist
During his managerial career, Valverde has faced Barça on ten occasions and earned no fewer than seven draws. He’s only lost twice – in the 2003/04 and 2004/05 seasons when he managed Athletic Bilbao, 0-1 and 2-0 respectively. His one win was as manager of Espanyol, 3-1 in the Montjuïc Olympic Stadium.