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PHOTO: ARCHIVE FCB

Non-stop football! Just days after the exhausting midweek duel with Real Madrid in the Cup, FC Barcelona goes down the Mediterranean coast to face Valencia in the Mestalla in what promises to be a tough match. Valencia has improved a great deal since former Barça star Ernesto Valverde took over and has had the whole week to prepare for the clash. Meanwhile, the Barça players have had just a few days to recover from their efforts in the Bernabeu.

19 man squad

Jordi Roura ha s called on 19 players for the trip down to Valencia. The only change from the squad that faced Real Madrid on Wednesday is the inclusion of Montoya in the place of Bartra. Tello also remains behind in Barcelona as do Abidal and Dos Santos, both of whom are still on the injury list.

Five-year unbeaten run

Although the Mestalla is traditionally a difficult place to go, the fact is that Barça has a pretty good record there in recent years and is currently unbeaten in the last five seasons. The last time Barça lost there was in the 2006/07 season (2-1), when David Villa was still a Valencia player. Today, the Spanish international striker could make his 100th appearance for Barça. It will also be a special occasion for Jordi Alba, who returns to the stadium that was his home for the previous three seasons for the first time since signing for Barça.

Valencia on the up

Valencia is currently enjoying a bit of a revival under new manager Ernesto Valverde, who seems to have halted the slide experienced under former boss Mauricio Pellegrino. Despite a severe mauling from Real Madrid in the league (0-5) as well as a more respectable exit from the Cup against the same team (2-0 and 1-1 in the quarterfinals), Valencia has started to challenge again for a European finish in the league table. Now they’ll be hoping to reduce the gap with the top four with a win against the league leader.

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