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The top two teams, and highest scorers in the division, meet for a ‘super Sunday’ La Liga clash at Mestalla. Both are still unbeaten and a win for either side could have a significant impact.
Should Barça emerge victorious from a stadium they’ve not lost at in the League since 2007, they’ll end the weekend seven points clear, however, a win for Valencia will bring them to within a point of their visitors.
Centre back David Costas, on loan from Celta, has been included in the 18-man squad that will be heading south on Sunday morning, as had already been confirmed by Valverde at his pre-match press conference.
The full squad for the game is as follows: Ter Stegen, Cillessen, Semedo, Rakitic, Sergio, Denis Suárez, Iniesta, Suárez, Messi, Paulinho, Deulofeu, Paco Alcácer, Jordi Alba, Digne, Aleix Vidal, Umtiti, Vermaelen and David Costas.
The injured Dembélé, Rafinha, Arda Turan, Sergi Roberto, André Gomes and Mascherano all stay at home.
“They are in the middle of a very good winning streak" says Ernesto Valverde in his pre-game conference. "I had expected them to have a big year, and I still expect them to do so. They have a good coach, they have good players, they have a clear plan, and they are working hard.”
“Plus it’s a great team and they don’t have any other midweek competitions to wear them down. “
His Valencia counterpart Marcelino has never beaten FC Barcelona in his coaching career and won’t be on the bench on Sunday because of a touchline ban. “I don’t have the key to stop Messi because I’m not smarter than everyone else.”
“It’s been the simplest week to prepare for because the motivation and hope are at their fullest and we are convinced about our chances, as we should be. We have the belief, we want to win and we will try to do so.”
Both teams are still unbeaten in the League. A 3-0 win at Leganés last time out was a reward for Barça’s hard work, and another clean sheet meant they’ve only conceded one goal in their last seven matches. Valencia also recorded an away victory, 2-0 at Espanyol, and Marcelino’s side will be looking for a record 10th consecutive win in all competitions on Sunday.
We have to go back to February 2007 for the last time Los Che defeated Barça in the league at Mestalla. In the 20 La Liga fixtures since, the Blaugrana have won 13, five have been drawn with Valencia’s two victories both coming at the Camp Nou. Goals are almost certainly guaranteed with just one goalless draw in the fixture in the last 14 years.
Watch it LIVE
As always, the game is being screened in almost every corner of the world, but if you are one of the unfortunate few who won’t be able to watch on TV for whatever reason, you can always tune into our live English language commentary on Radio Barça. The link will appear on the homepage shortly before kick-off. Not forgetting of course that we’ll have updates of all the action as it happens on our official Twitter feed.
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