Barcelona - Valencia Preview: Suspended Vilanova seeks reaction to Supercopa loss
The Blaugrana boss suffered his first defeat against Real Madrid on Wednesday and will want to make amends when Mauricio Pellegrino's side visit Camp Nou
By Karthick Arvinth
Montoya, Pique, Mascherano, Alba
Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta
Tello, Messi, Sanchez
Pereira, Rami, Ruiz, Mathieu
Albelda, T Costa
Feghouli, Jonas, Guardado
Barcelona captain Carles Puyol remains doubtful for Sunday's Primera Division encounter against Valencia with a cheekbone injury.
The Catalans, who will have coach Tito Vilanova barred from the dugout, could also be without right-back Dani Alves, after the Brazilian picked up a knock prior to Wednesday's Supercopa defeat at Real Madrid.
However, young midfielder Thiago has finally overcome a tibia injury that kept him out of the Olympics and is fit to play.
Valencia summer signing Fernando Gago faces a late fitness test, so David Albelda may make his first appearance of the season.
Also set for a start is French defender Adil Rami, who will deputise for the suspended Ricardo Costa.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Barcelona's Supercopa defeat against Real Madrid was their first away loss since a 1-0 reverse at Chelsea in last season's Champions League semi-final first leg.
- The Catalans have been drawn in Group G with Benfica, Spartak Moscow and Celtic for the group stage of this season's Champions League.
- Lionel Messi (pictured right) has the same goalscoring record as last season after four games in all competitions: six goals.
- Valencia have failed to register a win over Barcelona in their last 11 attempts across all competitions.
- The Mestalla outfit's last victory at Camp Nou was a 1-0 success in October 2003 - the last time they won the league.
- Valencia have been drawn in Group F for the Champions League group stage alongside Bayern Munich, Lille and BATE Borisov.
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Top 3 Predictions
FC Barcelona 3-1 Valencia CF
- 18.35 %
FC Barcelona 3-0 Valencia CF
- 9.94 %
FC Barcelona 2-1 Valencia CF
- 8.13 %
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Sep 1, 2013||Valencia CF 2 - FC Barcelona 3|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Feb 3, 2013||Valencia CF 1 - FC Barcelona 1|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Sep 2, 2012||FC Barcelona 1 - Valencia CF 0|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Feb 19, 2012||FC Barcelona 5 - Valencia CF 1|
|Spain - Copa del Rey (ESPC)||Feb 8, 2012||FC Barcelona 2 - Valencia CF 0|
|Dec 6, 2013||F.C. Cartagena 1 - FC Barcelona 4||ESPC|
|Dec 1, 2013||Athletic Bilbao 1 - FC Barcelona 0||LIGA|
|Nov 26, 2013||Ajax 2 - FC Barcelona 1||UCL|
|Nov 23, 2013||FC Barcelona 4 - Granada 0||LIGA|
|Nov 10, 2013||Betis 1 - FC Barcelona 4||LIGA|
|13||José Pinto Colorado||Goalkeeper|
|8||Andrés Iniesta Luján||Midfielder|
|18||Jose Andrés Guardado||Midfielder|
The former Manchester United defender endured a torrid evening at the Bernabeu on Wednesday, as he and his defensive partner, Javier Mascherano, were left chasing shadows in the first half. Pique hit out at his critics recently for what he saw as unfair criticism of his performances last season, but he must show greater concentration at the back to prove his worth to Vilanova.
The Spain striker is in excellent form after having netted twice in last weekend's 3-3 draw against Deportivo La Coruna. Soldado will look to prey on any indecisiveness in the Barcelona backline, especially if Blaugrana captain Puyol is unable to play.
Defeat in the Supercopa will have hurt Barcelona, and they will be keen to produce a dominant performance at the weekend. Winless Valencia have defensive woes of their own after letting a two-goal lead slip against Deportivo and could suffer a backlash from their Catalan hosts.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed