Reigning Spanish champions Barcelona will look to run their impressive winning streak to eight in a row on Saturday at Camp Nou when they host Real Valladolid in the first of two La Liga meetings in 2013.
While Gerardo Martino's short-handed squad will play without Lionel Messi for the second straight match on Saturday, Barca will still be heavy favorites to pick up three points against Pucela.
The Catalan giants boast an unblemished record through seven league matches while Valladolid have struggled out of the gate, winning just one of their first seven matches and going 0-2-1 on the road.
Even worse, Valladolid have been outscored 9-6 in league play, producing just two goals in enemy territory thus far.
Can Pucela turn things around this weekend?
Here, we'll get you ready with everything you need to know for Saturday's La Liga tilt.
Date: Saturday, October 5, 2013
Time: 4 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. BST
Where: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain
Watch: beIN Sport (U.S.), Sky Sports 4 (U.K.)
Barcelona: 83.1 percent
Real Valladolid: 6.2 percent
Draw: 10.7 percent
*Odds according to Bloomberg Sports
Top Storyline: Barcelona Looking to Keep Pace Without Lionel Messi
The biggest storyline by far heading into Saturday's clash between Barcelona and Real Valladolid is the absence of the world's best player, Lionel Messi, who is expected to be sidelined for two to three weeks while he recovers from a thigh injury suffered last weekend.
Messi has scored 11 goals in nine appearances in all competitions for Barca in 2013-14 and his presence alone has been a huge key to the club's success.
In their first match without Messi on Tuesday against Celtic, it was Cesc Fabregas who turned out to be the hero, netting a goal in the 75th minute to power Barca to a 1-0 win that keeps the club firmly atop their Champions League group table.
Attacking threats such as Fabregas, Neymar and Pedro will be key for Martino's squad this weekend if they hope to continue winning and keep pace with Atletico Madrid, who are also perfect through seven La Liga matches.
Who wins this La Liga matchup?
Even without Messi in the mix, watch for Barcelona to cruise to victory on Saturday. No other club in La Liga has conceded fewer goals than Barca this season and no club has scored more either.
Outside of Javi Guerra, Valladolid don't boast enough danger in the final third to overwhelm Barcelona's defense. On the other hand, the defending champions possess depth at the top of the lineup with Neymar leading the way.
Though Barca's attack won't be nearly as lethal without Messi, expect their defense (only six goals conceded in 11 matches) to smother their over-matched opponents.
Barcelona 2, Real Valladolid 0
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