Real Valladolid - Barcelona Preview: Martino's side hoping to keep the pressure on Madrid clubs

The Catalan side have not been at their best in recent matches but will be confident of getting all three points against the relegation candidates, who sit in 18th
Having won just one of their last 10 La Liga matches, there are few teams whom struggling Real Valladolid would like to face less than Barcelona.

However, it is the reigning Spanish champions who visit Estadio Jose Zorrilla on Saturday, when Gerardo Martino's men will be confident of climbing to the top of the division - at least overnight.

With Real Madrid not playing until Sunday, Barca could go two points clear at the summit of the table but the Camp Nou outfit's form has become far more difficult to predict in recent weeks.

Barca, who are currently two points ahead of third-placed Atletico Madrid, got their season off to a flyer, winning 16 of their opening 18 league matches, but Gerardo Martino's men have now won just four of their last eight in La Liga, raising doubts over the club's title-winning credentials this time around.

Despite a shaky record of late, Valladolid are a side who will hold no fear for the Blaugrana, with the Catalans having registered eight consecutive victories against the relegation-battlers.

A tally 74 of goals places the Catalan giants at the top of the goalscoring charts for the five major European leagues, while their total of 15 different goalscorers puts them second behind Arsenal and Ajax.

The big news at Camp Nou in the build-up to this game has been the announcement that club captain Carles Puyol is to leave at the end of the season.

The 35-year-old defender has enjoyed an extremely successful career with Barca, winning six league titles and three Champions League crowns, but has been plagued by injury problems this term.

That said, Puyol played a full 90 minutes in Sunday's 4-1 victory over Almeria and even got his name on the scoresheet seven minutes from time, but is reportedly not in contention to play this weekend.

Despite the quality that the Spanish giants possess, Juan Ignacio Martinez believes that his Valladolid side can spring an upset.

"We know it will be difficult, very difficult, but we have more options at home," he told the club's official website. "It is essential to look at ourselves, take the few chances ... and compete for 90 minutes."

Jonathan dos Santos (knee) remains sidelined for the visitors, while Gerard Pique (calf) is a doubt. Jeffren (hamstring) is likely to miss out for the hosts.