How do you bounce back after getting your heart ripped out? Barcelona are asking themselves that question this week heading into their match with Valencia.
Barcelona looked set to return to the Champions League Semifinals after a 4-1 victory over AS Roma in the first leg of their tie. However, shoddy defending doomed Barcelona in the return leg. The club allowed Marc Andre ter Stegen to get continually harassed, and Roma found the three goals they needed in order to shock the world and send Barca crashing out. Getting bounced from the Champions League is disappointing, but at least Barca can now look to score a double by winning La Liga and the Copa del Rey.
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FC Barcelona vs. Valencia CF
Date and Time: April 14, 2018, 10:15 a.m. ET
Location: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain
US Television Coverage: beIN Sports
Betting Line: FC Barcelona -1.5 and -2, O/U 3.5
Barcelona are seven games away from immortality. The club has been phenomenal in La Liga this season, and they have yet to lose a match through 31 games. They already look set to win the league and can also put themselves in the pantheon of all-time great clubs by finishing the year undefeated. However, they have been vulnerable. Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi had to score in the 88th and 89th minutes to salvage a draw for Barcelona two weeks ago in Sevilla.
Valencia have been the hottest team in La Liga. They have won five straight matches and have a nine match unbeaten streak. The Bats have soared while everyone else has stumbled, and now they sit in third place in La Liga.
This will be the fourth meeting between these two clubs this year. The two sides have already met once in La Liga play and also squared off in the Copa del Rey Semifinals.
Valencia nearly knocked off Barcelona in the first of the three matches. The Bats took a lead into the 82nd minute, but then a Jordi Alba goal gave Barcelona a draw. The two Copa del Rey tilts were less competitive, as Valencia failed to score in either match of the tie with Barcelona.
Unfortunately for Barcelona, they will be without one of their unsung heroes in this match. Midfielder Ivan Rakitic broke his finger against Roma on Tuesday and has already been declared out for this game. Rakitic is one of the keys to this team’s defensive efforts as he constantly challenges for the ball in the midfield. The club will also be without defender Lucas Digne, who is suffering from a thigh injury.
The good news is that Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta returned to action versus Roma. These are two of the veteran leaders of Barcelona, and their experience guides them well.
Valencia will be without midfielder Francis Coquelin. Coquelin ruptured his Achilles tendon a few weeks ago, and he will be out into next season. The Arsenal transfer was supposed to be the answer to the club’s need for a defensive midfielder, but his injury leaves them with a concern.
Spanish La Liga Free Picks
Barcelona has one of the best offenses in the world, but the total might be a bit too high in this one. In their three matches this season, there have been a total of five goals between these two teams and no match has had more than two goals. That makes under a very enticing bet in spite of Barcelona’s obvious problems at the back.
Additionally, there is a chance that Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde gives a couple of his stars the day off. This is a veteran club and many of the older players have been nursing injuries. That makes the under look even better.
Spanish La Liga Prediction: Barcelona 2, Valencia 0
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