Wednesday , May 22 2024

Barcelona vs Valencia, La Liga: Team News, Match Preview

Barcelona vs Valencia, La Liga: Team News, Match Preview

Barça look to rebound from a painful Clásico defeat and return to second place in the table.

FC Barcelona (3rd, 70pts) vs Valencia CF (8th, 47pts)

Competition/Round: 2023-24 La Liga, Matchday 33

Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Frenkie de Jong, Gavi, Alejandro Balde (out)

Valencia Outs & Doubts: Mouctar Diakhaby (out), José Gayà (doubt)

Date/Time: Monday, April 29, 2024, 9pm CET (Barcelona), 8pm BST/WAT (UK & Nigeria), 3pm ET, 12pm PT (USA), 12.30am IST (India, Tuesday)

VenueEstadi Olímpic Lluís CompanysMontjuïc, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Referee: Ricardo De Burgos Bengoechea

VAR: Santiago Jaime Latre

How to watch on TV: ESPN Deportes (USA), TSN 1 (Canada), Premier Sports 1 (UK), SuperSport (Nigeria), Sports18 (India), others

Following a painful defeat in El Clásico to effectively end their defense of the La Liga title, Barcelona return to action for a rare Monday Night Fútbol match as they welcome longtime rivals Valencia to the Montjuïc Olympic Stadium in the final game of Matchday 33.

Barça come into this one after a heartbreak in Madrid that ended any hopes of a miracle comeback to win the championship, and the full week of rest and training had some big news off the pitch as Xavi Hernández confirmed he has reversed his decision to leave in the summer and will remain the first team coach next season.

With the managerial situation now sorted, Barça’s job is to reshape the squad in a very important upcoming summer transfer window. The Blaugrana have very obvious holes in key positions and must make the right signings to fill them, but in order to do that they need funds and finishing in second place offers extra prize money and a place in next year’s Spanish Super Cup which brings even more cash.

Xavi and his troops must ensure they’ll finish ahead of Girona in the standings, and the two face each other next week in a giant Catalan derby that will go a long way in deciding who ends the season as runners-up. And if they want to go into next week’s clash ahead of their local rivals, Barça must win on Monday.

But it won’t be easy. The consecutive losses to Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid had a massive psychological impact on the club as a whole, and having to play the final six games of the season knowing they don’t matter too much can be a real trap for a team. Barça had a very poor finish to last season after clinching the league title, and there is danger of letting go of the rope again with the guarantee of a trophyless campaign.

This specific game is more about the mental side than tactics: if Barça have managed to recover from the emotional damage caused by the last two losses, they should be good enough to win now that the squad is healthier and most of the players had been in excellent form prior to last week’s disaster.

But if they’re still struggling to move on from the events of the last 10 days, Valencia will be ready to pounce: Los Che have been a historically tough opponent when they travel to Catalonia, and always manage to play close, hard-fought, low-scoring games in Barça’s home.

They’re also having a strong season and are still dreaming of a place in Europe next year, and an upset at Montjuïc would go a long way in helping their continental chase. Rubén Baraja has done a marvelous job coaching a young, hungry team that is very well organized at the back and knows what to do with the ball, crafting good counter-attacks and offering serious danger on set pieces.

Valencia are one of the few teams in Spain who are always confident they can get a result in the Catalan capital, and Barça need a professional, mentally strong performance to find a way to win and take three crucial points ahead of next week’s final in Girona.

POSSIBLE LINEUPS

Barcelona (4-2-3-1): Ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo, Cubarsí, Cancelo; Christensen, Pedri; Yamal, Gündogan, Raphinha; Lewandowski

Valencia (4-2-3-1): Mamardashvili; Correia, Mosquera, Özkacar, Gayà; Pepelu, Guerra; Pérez, Almeida, López; Duro



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