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Three talking points ahead of Barcelona vs Valencia

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Photo by JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images

Barcelona and Valencia’s last meeting earlier this season ended in a 1-1 draw at Mestalla. The scoreboard, however, was kind to the hosts.

The Catalans created an xG of 3.24 on the night and were woeful in front of goal. Valencia, meanwhile, equalised with an xG of merely 0.54, and it was one of those several games in this season’s La Liga where Barcelona threw points away.

Heading into tonight’s clash at Montjuic, Ruben Baraja’s men sit in eighth place, two points behind Real Betis who have a spot in Europe. They do have a game in hand, however, and a win will propel them into the aforementioned berth.

Barcelona, meanwhile, have been pushed to third place by Girona and will fight to regain their authority over the second-place. Needless to say, a fascinating clash awaits the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys.

Barça Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Barcelona vs Valencia.

The renewed project

Just over under three months is all it took for fans and the board to understand Xavi’s importance in Barcelona’s rebuild.

The manager’s decision to announce his departure was a masterstroke in disguise, not only to push the players but also to create a good image amongst followers.

Needless to say, Catalonia was a happy place earlier this week when Joan Laporta confirmed Xavi’s continuity for one more year.

The uncertainty around the club’s summer transfer window plans for next season and renewal statuses were instantly rewarded with clarity, helping begin the project rejuvenated.

The biggest talking point ahead of Barcelona’s clash against Valencia, needless to say, is the fact that it is the first time the team take the field after the announcement of Xavi’s continuity.

With the guilt and pressure off their backs, it remains to be seen if the players can keep up the steam and stay motivated to finish the season on a high.

After all, Barcelona are now virtually out of contention for all trophies and their games serve no real purpose beyond upholding the club’s esteem. Only time will tell if the combination of factors causes the player to drop their guard once more.

A blow in midfield

Frenkie de Jong. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Frenkie de Jong only played 45 minutes in Barcelona’s all-important Clasico last weekend. An ankle injury forced him off the field, and subsequent tests revealed that the player could well miss the remainder of the season.

While it is not a direct concern for Barcelona in terms of results, the manager will be under pressure to find a working formula without De Jong. Pedri’s uncertain fitness adds yet another constraint to the worrying equation.

Heading into tonight’s clash against Valencia, Xavi could thus look to utilise Andreas Christensen as the pivot with a well-rested Ilkay Gundogan leading the charge. Fermin Lopez is well placed to take the third place in midfield.

Assuming that the manager will have a fully fit squad heading into the beginning of the 2024-25 season, the coming month could well be Lopez’s best chance to impress and earn a place in the squad.

After all, De Jong, Gavi and Pedri’s complete return will push him to the sidelines unless he establishes himself in the games to come.

Time to experiment

Six games remain for Barcelona before the curtains close on the season, and every game gives Xavi more of a reason to start planning for the next course.

With La Liga virtually lost at this point and results no longer bearing much weight, the time is optimal for Xavi to rotate and test his bench ahead of the summer transfer window.

For starters, Vitor Roque is one who must get more minutes in the coming games, starting from the clash against Valencia. After all, he could well be Barcelona’s primary striker next season and is yet to be phased in.

Joao Felix, Ferran Torres, Marc Guiu, Oriol Romeu, and Inigo Martinez are a few others with uncertain futures who must be given a final chance to stake their claim on a place in Xavi’s dynamics.

Having the freedom to rotate and experiment with no repercussions is rare at this level, and the manager must look to capitalise on the same.

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