Valencia vs. Barcelona, Spain, La Liga Matchday 26, Mestalla Stadium, Valencia Spain, 4 PM EST Wednesday March 2, 2011
by Jason Green, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Match Odds: Valencia 5.25 / Barcelona 1.55 / Draw 1.55
Over/Under: 2.5 goals - Over (-166) / Under (+120)
Moneyline: Valencia +425 / Barcelona -181 / Draw +310
In La Liga matchday 26 on Wednesday night 3rd place Valencia plays host to first place Barcelona. With Real Madrid playing to a 0-0 draw against Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday it gave Barcelona a cushion in the league standings. Barca now leads Real by 7 points while Valencia is 17 points back in 3rd. While Valencia will not catch Barcelona they can automatically qualify for the Champions League next season if they can stay in the top 4.
In the first meeting of the season way back in mid-October Barcelona beat Valencia 2-1. In that game Valencia took a 1-0 lead going into halftime, but Barca scored 2 2nd half goals to win the match. One key in that game was the play of MF Xavi, but he is questionable in this match due to a calf injury.
Valencia has a solid defense, but will they be able to contain a Barcelona offense that has scored, by far, the most goals in La Liga this season? Not likely. Barcelona has 3 players that rank in the top 5 in scoring this season in Lionel Messi (26 goals), David Villa (17 goals), and Pedro (13 goals).
The Valencia defense has been solid recently, as in their last 4 La Liga matches they have only given up a total of 2 goals. However, they may have to rely on their defense to win this match, as while they have scored 6 goals in their last 4 league matches Barcelona has given up the fewest goals in La Liga (13).
Valencia has to play a great team match and they will have to take advantage of the counter attack chances they get since their leading scorer Aritz Aduriz only has 9 goals on the season.
Barcelona Recent Form:
2/26/2011 Mallorca 0 Barcelona 3 (La Liga)
2/20/2011 Barcelona 2 Athletic Bilbao 1 (La Liga)
2/16/2011 Arsenal 2 Barcelona 1 (Champions League)
2/12/2011 Sporting Gijon 1 Barcelona 1 (La Liga)
2/5/2011 Barcelona 3 Atltico Madrid 0 (La Liga)
Valencia Recent Form:
2/27/2011 Athletic Bilbao 1 Valencia 2 (La Liga)
2/19/2011 Valencia 0 Sporting Gijon 0 (La Liga)
2/15/2011 Valencia 1 Schalke 04 1 (Champions League)
2/12/2011 Atltico Madrid 1 Valencia 2 (La Liga)
2/6/2011 Valencia 2 Hercules 0 (La Liga)
Valencia has a few guys banged up for this match with defenders David Navarro and Miguel and midfielders Mehmet Topal and Chori Dominguez all questionable. For Barcelona Xavi is questionable as are G Victor Valdes and DF Carles Puyol, but DF Dani Alves will be back after being suspended for their last match against Malaga.
Even with Malaga keying on Messi he still scored in the match and he will score in this one. The forwards for Barca are too much for Valencia to handle and I think Barcelona will score, at least, 2 goals.
In Barcelona’s last 3 away league matches they have only given up one goal. However, Valencia is a solid team and with G Victor Valdes questionable I think the home squad will find the back of the net.
Neither team will keep a clean sheet in this match.
In Barcelona’s last 10 matches they have an Over 2.5 goal record of 9-1. The Over for this match is at -166, but I still think it is a good bet. Valencia has an Under 2.5 goal record of 6-4 in their last 10 matches.
The Valencia FW duo of Roberto Soldado (6 goals) and Aritz Aduriz (9 goals) must put some pressure on the Barca defense, as they cannot allow them to dominate this game in the midfield.
Jason’s Pick to Win: Yeah, Valencia has played well this season and they did not get killed playing at Barcelona in October. Still, Barca has been playing well and they can likely wrap up the league title if they can win this tough away match. I think Barca will come out and take the early lead and win this match by a score of 2-1 or 3-1.