Tough night ahead for Barca in Mestalla

Madrid, Feb 2 (IANS) FC Barcelona travel to Valencia's Mestalla Stadium Sunday night for one of the most difficult games they have left in the Spanish Primera Liga football season.

Looking at the league calendar, Barca have a handful of difficult away matches: away to Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, a potentially complicated visit to Athletic Bilbao's San Mames Stadium and Sunday's trip to Valencia, reports Xinhua.

Valencia has always been a complicated away match for Barca. A match where a semi-local rivalry comes into play and where the Catalans can expect a tough reception from the home fans.

Add to that the fact that since the arrival of Ernesto Valverde as first team coach, Valencia' s form and performances have improved drastically and this looks to be one of the places where Barca could drop points.

Barcelona will travel on the back of a physically intense Copa del Rey game away to Real Madrid Wednesday and that could take some toll on their side, forcing coach Tito Vilanova and his assistant Jordi Roura to make some changes to their starting 11.

Roura will again direct the side in Mestalla as Vilanova continues with his cancer treatment and will bring Victor Valdes back into his side, while players such as Javier Mascherano, Adriano and former Valencia striker, David Villa could also get a run out.

Roura will have to meditate whether or not Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets both start the game after they trained on their own Friday as a result of slight groin strains as a result of the midweek cup game and both could be slight doubts, perhaps giving a chance to Christian Tello or Thiago Alcantara in the Barca side.

Meanwhile Valencia captain, David Albelda announced Friday that he will almost certainly be ending his time at the club at the end of the current season.

Albelda will leave Mestalla after 15 years with Valencia and commented that he would like to win what will be his last home game against Barca.

"It is a challenge as they are the best team in the world, but they know that this is one of the most difficult games they have left to play," Albelda said.

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