La Liga Preview: Valencia in the Hunt for Third Position

Joe LazarCorrespondent IFebruary 11, 2011

ALICANTE, SPAIN - JANUARY 29: Andres Iniesta of Barcelona  is congratulated by Barcelona head coach Josep Guardiola after he was substituted during the la Liga match between Hercules and Barcelona at Estadio Jose Rico Perez on January 29, 2011 in Alicante, Spain.  Barcelona won 0-3.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Sporting Gijon vs Barcelona

Barcelona will not be looking to let the slew of international matches destroy their concentration and flow in La Liga as they look to create history by winning 17 consecutive matches. The return to the Estadio El Molinon will also be special for Pep Guardiola.

His Barcelona career was finally confirmed as a success after the 6-1 victory over Sporting Gijon two years ago. It was also the season in which Barcelona created history by winning all the trophies that they contested for. Ironically, Pep Guardiola signed a contract extension a few days ago and he will be hoping that history repeats itself.

The last few weekends have been exceptionally good for Barcelona—having won almost every single match comfortably.

However, Sporting Gijon could provide some resistance after they have been in good form recently. They have just one defeat to show for in their last four matches and they could prove to be stubborn in letting Barcelona score.

One reason for Barcelona performing exceptionally well could be their current injury situation, or lack thereof, which sees only Jeffren and Carles Puyol on the treatment table. Sebastian Eguren is the only player who will be missing for Sporting Gijon.

Atletico Madrid vs Valencia

The fact that Valencia are just one point behind Villarreal in the third position means that Unai Emery will be looking to take full advantage of their match against Atletico Madrid.

On the other hand, even though Sergio Aguero signed a contract extension, it has certainly not helped his club in the Spanish La Liga. They still remain a hefty 14 points behind Valencia in the eighth position but are well clear of the relegation zone as well.

So, with over half the season to go, Atletico Madrid find themselves with nothing to play for. However, Quique Sánchez Flores will think that there is a very good chance of qualifying for the Europa League places. He will be looking to embark on that mission against Valencia.

Valencia are on a great run of form in the last few weeks and have dropped just two points in their last seven matches—nothing short of incredible. Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid, have suffered three consecutive defeats starting with the loss against Real Madrid. Filipe Luís will be not available for Atletico Madrid, while Cesar Sanchez and Vicente Rodriguez are still out for Valencia.

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