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Tonight, Barcelona travels to Valencia to play a tough away game against a team who has won their last 5 games including a 3-1 victory against Sevilla. Valencia are currently in 4th place and trail Sevilla by only two points. A win tomorrow could put Valencia into 3rd at least until Sevilla plays Real Madrid on Sunday.
In the first game of the season, Barcelona easily beat Valencia 4-0 with Henry scoring a hat trick. In that game, Eto’o was suspended and Henry occupied the central attacking spot.
The Barca lineup for the game is complicated by the fact, that some of the Barca players only need another yellow card before triggering a suspension. Toure, Alves, Eto’o, Xavi and Busquets will be suspended for the El Classico if they receive a yellow card tomorrow.
Puyol, Marquez, Pique, Abidal
Messi, Bojan, Iniesta
Alves hasn’t played as well as he did over the winter and a rest would be good for him. This would also ensure that he can play at the Bernabeu. Marquez and Pique have been rocks in central defense so no need to change that. Abidal looks a certain starter in left back.
In midfield, Sergio Busquets will probably start instead of Toure. He will get defensive assistance from Keita and Xavi will be needed to create the game.
In attack, Messi was rested and Iniesta was subbed after 58 fantastic minutes from him in the Sevilla game. Henry has been playing a lot recently and could need a rest. We expect Bojan to start instead of Eto’o but it’s pretty much 50/50.
Valencia are playing a 4231 and have seen a lot of success recently. Unfortunately for them, Joaquin and Albelda will miss the game due to injuries. Villa is in fantastic form at the moment and scored both goals in midweek. He now has 25 goals of the season.
Alexis, Marchena, Maduro, del Horno
Pedro, Silva, Mata
This means that del Horno can look forward to taking care of Messi again. In the round of 16 match against Chelsea at the Stamford Bridge in 2006, del Horno was shown the red card after a bad challenge on Messi.
Steffen Risager is the editor of www.elbarca.net.