Nov 24, 2017
Nov 24, 2017

La Liga preview: Valencia vs. Barcelona

Can Valencia continue their surprising start?

Why Barcelona's injuries could be key

Is Valencia’s goal-scoring record flawed?

La Liga preview: Valencia vs. Barcelona

La Liga’s top two clubs meet this Sunday, as Valencia welcome Barcelona to the Mestalla. Can Los Che continue their exhilarating start to the season, or will Barcelona form a cushion between them and the chasing La Liga pack? What value can be found in the Valencia vs. Barcelona odds? Read on to find out.

Live Valencia vs. Barcelona odds:

Valencia vs. Barcelona betting: Valencia’s surprising start

Nine wins from 12, no defeats, 32 goals scored, and the only serious challenge to Barca’s dominance in La Liga this season. You would be forgiven to think that these were the stats of the Blaugrana’s bitter rivals Real Madrid. Yet whilst Real Madrid have stumbled and faltered in the league this season, it has been Marcelino’s Valencia that have emerged Barcelona’s biggest title opposition.

After the struggles of last season, this season’s exploits are nothing short of a miracle - especially given how Valencia performed up until the Christmas period.

La Liga Standings on December 9, 2016:

La Liga Standings on December 9, 2016

Position

Team

Played

Goal Difference

Points

13th

Alaves

14

-3

17

14th

Real Betis

14

-11

15

15th

Leganes

14

-14

14

16th

Deportivo La Coruna

14

-6

13

17th

Valencia

14

-7

12

18th

Sporting Gijon

14

-13

12

19th

Granada

15

-17

9

20th

Osasuna

14

-16

7

“Seven goals and a funeral” headlined Spanish tabloid Marca after their 7-0 thrashing of this weekend’s opponents Barcelona back in February. Che galvansed under caretaker manager Voro after the sacking of Gary Neville and managed to finish mid-table.

This season, Marcelino has built upon the final few games that saved Valencia last season. On an eight-game unbeaten run, it does feel as though this is the worst time for Barcelona to face the in-form Valencia side; particularly away from home.

Could this be Valencia’s chance to cement themselves amongst the Madrid and Catalan trio that have dominated the top spots in La Liga this decade? They are rightly the underdogs going into Sunday’s tie and could offer good value going in the Valencia vs. Barcelona odds.

Valencia vs. Barcelona betting: A battered and bruised Barca

Despite a difficult summer which saw one of their star names, Neymar, leave the Catalan giants for Paris, Barcelona have been in scintillating league form.

Also unbeaten in La Liga and with just one blemish to an otherwise dominating run (a draw against Atletico Madrid), a win this Sunday could see Barcelona build a seven-point gap between themselves and their closest rival.

This season Valencia have scored 32 goals in just 12 games, only this weekend’s opponents have scored more (33).

Ernesto Valverde will have some difficult decisions to make for Sunday’s game due to a number of absentees. Centre-back lynchpin Gerard Pique will miss the game after receiving his fifth La Liga yellow card against Leganes last time out. Customary replacement Javier Mascherano is injured and unlikely to be available, which has left Barca’s manager with a selection dilemma.

Will Valverde use Vermaelen to partner Umtiti at the back; a player who has not seen the pitch this season and unlikely to be ready to take on in-form Valencia? Could fullback Nelson Semedo be a make-shift centre-back, with Aleix Vidal slotting into the right-hand side (Sergi Roberto is also missing due to injury)?

Whatever Ernesto Valverde decides, it will be a difficult game for whoever steps up to face Valencia, a side that on average notches 15 shots per game at the Mestalla.

Their style of play generally consists of finding the wide men before bombarding the box with crosses; Valencia have averaged 29 crosses at home per game this season, only Atletico Bilbao have managed more.

Valencia are unlikely to stray away from a system that has worked well for them so far this season. Whoever does partner Umtiti in the middle of defence could be a weakness that Valencia may look to exploit.

Is Valencia’s goal-scoring record flawed?

This season Valencia have scored 32 goals in just 12 games, only this weekend’s opponents have scored more (33). In fact, the third highest scorers in the league, Real Betis have scored seven less.

Most of their impressive attacking start can be put down the season that Simone Zaza is having in front of goal. The Italian forward has scored nine goals this season, including eight goals in his last seven.

An incredible turn of fortune for a striker that failed to notch a single Premier League goal during his time at West Ham United. However, delving deeper into his statistics reveals just how unsustainable his current goalscoring efforts are.

Also unbeaten in La Liga and with just one blemish to an otherwise dominating run, a win this Sunday could see Barcelona build a seven-point gap between themselves and their closest rival.

Zaza’s expected goals tally this season stands at just 4.40, 4.60 goals less than his actual scoring rate. At present, it seems that even half chances are going in for him. This is unlikely to be sustained and his impressive numbers will likely regress as the season progresses.

It is not just their star striker that has had some luck in front of goal. Of all of Valencia’s La Liga scorers this season, only one has an expected goals figure higher than their actual goals (Carlos Soler).

This accumulates to an overall expected goals number of just 21.50, 10.5 less than their actual goals tally of 32.

In contrast, Sunday’s opponents Barcelona have an expected goals total of 30.50, only 2.5 goals less than their actual goal tally of 33.

Will Valencia’s form in front of goal curtail this weekend, leaving Barcelona with the chance to break away at the top of the table?

Valencia vs. Barcelona odds: Where is the value?

Whilst Barcelona rightfully go into Sunday’s game as favourites after an impressive start to the season, don’t expect Valencia to let them have it all their own way.

On an eight-game unbeaten run, it does feel as though this is the worst time for Barcelona to face the in-form Valencia side; particularly away from home.

Barcelona allow their opponents to have 11.2 shots per game in La Liga. With selection issues for Valverde and Valencia’s current form in front of goal, a clean sheet would be impressive if not unlikely.

With the attacking exploits that Barcelona possess, the expectation of a closely fought but high-scoring game could be on the cards. Over 3 and 3.5 goals is currently priced at 1.980* and could be a smart bet in the Valencia vs. Barcelona odds.

Whilst Valencia have looked imperious at home this season, Barcelona’s unbeaten away form cancels that out. With the talent in the Catalan’s ranks, it would be no surprise to see Barca come out on top meaning their -1 handicap odds of 2.610* could offer some value.

Odds subject to change

Betting Resources - Empowering your betting

Pinnacle’s Betting Resources is one of the most comprehensive collections of expert betting advice anywhere online. Catering to all experience levels our aim is simply to empower bettors to become more knowledgeable.