Real Valladolid v Barcelona
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Kick Off: 20:00 CET
Captain Carles Puyol and Andrés Iniesta have both recovered from injury and are named in Pep Guardiola’s 18 man squad for Saturday nights visit to Real Valladolid. The Barcelona coach is expected to rotate his squad and Messi, having played in Argentina’s two matches, is expected to start on the bench after admitting he found things difficult in the second match which was played at high altitude against Bolivia, and while the other South Americans and Aliaksandr Hleb have arrived back late to training after their international matches, Dani Alves should still be fit enough to start the match.
It will be interesting to see how Barca fare after this weekend, as in the previous four matches played so far after international breaks, they have accumulated six points out of the twelve on offer. Although these results are not particularly good, Barca has managed to avoid defeat.
With just 10 league matches left Barca will be looking to maintain their six point lead over nearest rivals, Real Madrid and the return of Puyol and Iniesta should provide a big boost to the Blaugrana defence and midfield.
Spain U-21 keeper Sergio Asenjo should take the starting job in between the posts and Mendilibar will hope he is up to the task against a relentless Barcelona attack. Pedro León will miss the match due to suspension and the young winger’s absence will sorely missed, but the return of defender José Antonio García Calvo will be a welcome reinforcement to the back-line, which will have to be in top form to deal with the Barca attack.
21/03 A Sevilla 1-4
15/03 H Getafe 1-0
08/03 A Recreativo 3-2
01/03 A Valencia 2-1
22/02 H Málaga 1-3
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Asenjo; López, Prieto, Calvo, Marcos; Rubio, Borja; Dorado, Cannobio, Sesma; Goitom
22/03 H Málaga 6-0
15/03 A Almería 2-0
11/03 H Lyon 5-2
07/03 H Athletic Bilbao 2-0
04/03 A Mallorca 1-1
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): Valdés; D. Alves, Puyol, Piqué, Sylvinho; Xavi, Keita, Gudjohnsen; Bojan, Eto’o, Henry
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