With the top of the La Liga table as close as it has been all season, Barcelona have to make sure they come away with three points in a favorable matchup against Valencia.
Valencia have seen a major drop this season from perennial league title contenders to barely sitting in the top half of the table. They currently sit in 10th place after earning only one win in their past six matches.
Meanwhile, Barcelona also had to be disappointed in their recent play as two draws in a row prevented them from pulling away against Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid. They came back strong with a 3-0 win over Malaga in the last match, but another draw or loss could see Barca drop to third place.
Both clubs have a lot on the line in the upcoming match, so fans can expect plenty of action throughout the 90 minutes.
Who will win?
When: Saturday, Feb. 1
Where: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain
Time (U.S.): 10 a.m. ET
Time (U.K.): 3 p.m. GMT
Watch (U.S.): beIN Sports, beIN Sports en Espanol
Live Stream: beIN Sports Play
Odds (via SkyBet): Barcelona (1-8), Valencia (20-1), Draw (7-1)
Top Storyline: Will Barcelona Overlook Their Opponent?
After a hard-fought draw against Atletico Madrid, Barcelona seemed unfocused in a draw against Levante. They have to avoid this fate against Valencia, who are better than their record indicates.
Gerardo Martino is certainly wary of the upcoming opponent, as he told the club's official website, "The Valencia team has unquestionably changed for the better. They had a good cup tie with Atlético Madrid and played well against Malaga. They are going from less to more."
They have also made an addition that will seem quite familiar to Barcelona, via Tancredi Palmeri of beIN Sport:
Fmr Barcelona midfielder Keita leaves chinese Dalian to join Valencia— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) January 31, 2014
Seydou Keita might not get a chance to appear against his former club, but his presence alone should give Valencia more confidence to compete.
If Barcelona do not come into the match with complete focus, they will suffer for it.
Prediction: Barcelona 2, Valencia 0
The fact that Barcelona are playing at home is not good news for Valencia as they have been simply unbeatable lately:
Barça have won all of their last 25 league games at the Camp Nou http://t.co/DWPtaRQShr— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 28, 2014
According to the club, they have averaged 3.48 goals per game in that time while conceding only an average of 0.72.
Of course, talent alone will help Barcelona get onto the scoresheet. Lionel Messi is yet to score in three league appearances since returning from his injury, but he had four goals and three assists in as many Copa del Rey matches. The talent is clearly there for him to break out with a big performance.
Andres Iniesta has also returned from his absence and could contribute, even off the bench. Adding him to an already-elite midfield of Cesc Fabregas, Xavi and Sergio Busquets will ensure that Valencia will have few chances to even control the ball, let alone get a scoring opportunity.
Valencia have a few key players who can score, including Jonas in the midfield. However, they will be limited offensively in this match and will pick up yet another loss in a disappointing season.
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