Barcelona vs. Valencia: Team News, Preview, Live Stream, TV Info

Mark Jones@@Mark_Jones86Featured ColumnistApril 17, 2016

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (L) and Barcelona's Brazilian forward Neymar prepare to kick a ball during the Champions League quarter-final second leg football match Club Atletico de Madrid vs FC Barcelona at the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid on April 13, 2016. / AFP / GERARD JULIEN        (Photo credit should read GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
GERARD JULIEN/Getty Images

It’s official, Barcelona are in “crisis.”

With just one win in their last five matches—that ultimately meaningless victory in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg against Atletico Madrid—Barca have seen their treble dreams shattered and their La Liga rivals close in on them in the battle for domestic glory.

BILBAO, SPAIN - MARCH 10:  Alvaro Negredo of Athletic Club reacts during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16: First Leg match between Athletic Club and Valencia CF at San Mames Stadium on March 10, 2016 in Bilbao, Spain.  (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce
Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Given their standards, it is a fairly alarming slip, and the Camp Nou will expect better when Pako Ayesteran’s Valencia come calling on Sunday evening.

Ayesteran, who has replaced Gary Neville in the Los Che hotseat, has experienced a loss and a win during his temporary spell in charge so far, with the victory coming in dramatic circumstances in the final stages of last weekend’s clash with Sevilla.

However, the former Liverpool assistant manager will know that this will represent a much tougher test, especially with Barca determined to do better following recent form.

Date: Sunday, April 17

Time: 7.30 p.m. BST / 2.30 p.m. ET

Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona

TV Info: Sky Sports 3

Live Stream: Sky Sports

Last 6 Results

Barcelona

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 13: Ivan Rakitic of Barcelona in action during the UEFA Champions League quarter final second leg match between Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona at Vicente Calderon stadium on April 13, 2016 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/G
Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

Won 3-1 vs. Arsenal

Drew 2-2 vs. Villarreal

Lost 2-1 vs. Real Madrid

Won 2-1 vs. Atletico Madrid

Lost 1-0 vs. Real Sociedad

Lost 2-0 vs. Atletico Madrid

Valencia

VALENCIA, SPAIN - MARCH 31:  New Valencia CF head coach Pako Ayestaran poses outside the Paterna Training Centre following a press conference on March 31, 2016 in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Lost 1-0 vs. Athletic Bilbao

Lost 1-0 vs. Levante

Won 2-1 vs. Athletic Bilbao

Lost 2-0 vs. Celta Vigo

Lost 2-1 vs. Las Palmas

Won 2-1 vs. Sevilla

Team News

Barcelona

Luis Suarez was suspended for the last Liga clash at Real Sociedad, but he returned for the Champions League tie at Atletico Madrid. Despite that defeat, Luis Enrique is likely to name the same “Gala XI” this time around, with Claudio Bravo obviously returning in goal.

Arda Turan is suspended for this game anyway, and despite their substitutions just after the hour mark when they were chasing the game in Madrid, Dani Alves and Ivan Rakitic are likely to be retained here.

Sandro and Jeremy Mathieu are both still out injured.

Possible XI: Bravo, Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba, Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta, Neymar, Messi, Suarez.

Valencia

Zakaria Bakkali and the on-loan Denis Cheryshev are both still out injured for Valencia, and Pako Ayesteran faces the question of whether or not to start with Alvaro Negredo following his late goalscoring intervention as a substitute last weekend.

The interim boss is more likely to stick with the more mobile Paco Alcacer from the start, though, with Santi Mina and Rodrigo providing attacking support from out wide.

Andre Gomes, Javi Fuego and Dani Parejo are going to need to be energetic in midfield.

Possible XI: Diego Alves, Barragan, Abdennour, Mustafi, Siqueira, Gomes, Fuego, Parejo, Santi Mina, Rodrigo, Alcacer.

Key Players

Barcelona: Lionel Messi

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 13: Lionel Messi of Barcelona in action during the UEFA Champions League quarter final second leg match between Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona at Vicente Calderon stadium on April 13, 2016 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/G
Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

It can sometimes be easy to overlook Lionel Messi when it comes to discussing “key players” in a Barcelona fixture, such is the Argentinian’s continued and sustained excellence. But following a rare off-period, the forward is under a little bit of pressure here.

Messi has failed to either score or assist a goal in each of his past five Barca appearances, and so there will be a greater-than-usual scrutiny of his display here.

Valencia: Aymen Abdennour

Athletic Bilbao's forward Aritz Aduriz (L) vies with Valencia's Tunisian defender Aymen Abdennour during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 first leg football match Athletic Club Bilbao vs Valencia CF at the San Mames stadium in Bilbao on March 10, 2016.
ANDER GILLENEA/Getty Images

In his first season at Valencia following his move from Monaco in the summer, Tunisian defender Aymen Abdennour has had something of an up-and-down time at the club and is now playing under his third different manager.

Tall and solid, the centre-back will be crucial if Valencia are going to get anything from this game, especially with the movement of Barca’s famed front three.

Odds (via Odds Shark)

Barcelona: 1-5

Valencia: 16-1

Draw: 17-2

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