Top-of the-table clashes are a regular feature of Barça seasons, but we are less used to them being against Valencia.
Not that it hasn’t happened several times in the past, the most recent meeting when one of the sides was first and the other second being the one in game five of the 2011/12 season. Like now, it was the Catalans who were in pole position, but Mestalla where the game was played.
Pep Guardiola was Barça boss at the time, and Unai Emery was on the Valencia bench (to be replaced a year later by none other than Ernesto Valverde). The game ended 2-2, with Pedro and Cesc Fàbregas scoring for the visitors and Eric Abidal (own goal) and Pablo Hernández netting for Valencia.
Just three of the Barça team that day are still at the club (Javier Mascherano, Sergio Busquets and Leo Messi), although Jordi Alba was involved in the game but playing for the opposition. His team-mate Jeremy Mathieu would also end up donning the blaugrana shirt three seasons later.
Meanwhile, there’s not a single member of that Valencia side that’s still plying his trade at Mestalla.