Valencia v Barcelona: Preview La Liga's game of the weekend

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Valencia take on Barcelona at Mestalla in the game of the weekend in La Liga.

It's one of the fixtures that fans of Spanish football always look for because goals are a virtual guarantee.

Just last season, both fixtures produced five goals, Barcelona triumphing in the first game thanks to a Lionel Messi hat-trick, Valencia taking all three points at Camp Nou after a lacklustre Barca performance.

Tactics to suit Negredo

This fixture will see the full home debut of Alvaro Negredo which should buoy an already expectant Mestalla crowd. The atmosphere will be jumping as the feel-good factor around the club continues unabated.

Valencia manager Nuno Santo may have to modify tactics slightly to suit Negredo's game better, and this is certainly the time for the centre-forward to shine.

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Jeremy Mathieu returns to his old stamping ground and will no doubt be tasked with keeping Negredo quiet which is no easy task.

Given Barca's weakness in the air, it's fairly easy to conclude that most of Los Che's attacks will involve Negredo at some point, be it for the knock down or to outmuscle a brittle Barca defence on his own.

Jordi Alba, another ex-Valencia man, will need to rein in his wanderlust for this one.

Gil the danger man

Carles Gil has been the thorn in more than one sides aspirations of glory this season, his excellence in the right hand channel one of the chief reasons that Valencia find themselves in their lofty position. 

Javi Fuego has dominated the midfield and if he is allowed to thread balls in behind Alba, then Gil will find the head of Negredo or another team-mate. His 90 percent pass completion success will attest to that.

Of course, the home side might not even get the chance if the Catalans come roaring out of the blocks on the back of an astonishingly one sided rout of Sevilla last time out.

Messi the man?

Lionel Messi has found his mojo again and two hat-tricks in the previous seven days to break the all-time scoring records of both La Liga and the Champions League is ominous indeed for the hosts.

Especially when you consider that Valencia are one of the Argentine's favourite "victims." 

Five goals in his last three games against Los Che isn't a statistic that will please the home fans.

No home wins in seven

Nor will the fact that the hosts have failed to beat Barca at home in the last seven.

With 31 wins, Valencia are the team that Barcelona have most away wins against, so the weight of history lies heavily on the shoulders of the hosts.

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