Sunday’s La Liga game between Valencia and FC Barcelona will be a time for reunions, although not all of them are likely to be happy in what promises to be a tense affair in the Mestalla Stadium.
The game will see Barca’s Ferran Torres return to face the club he left just 20 months ago. He joined Manchester City at a price considerably below the value of a Spain international and less than half of what Barca paid to bring him back to Spain in January.
The product of Valencia’s youth system is likely to face a hostile reception from the unforgiving Valencia fans.
Sunday will also see Valencia’s Ilaix Moriba face the club he left in the summer. Barca sold him to RB Leipzig because of what the club considered to be his exorbitant demands for a new contract.
Moriba forced his way into the first team last season and his departure was a blow to Barca over the summer, although his failure to secure game time in Leipzig led the German club to loan him out, reports Xinhua.
A 1-1 draw at home to Napoli in the Europa League on Thursday night left Barcelona’s European future dependent on winning in Italy next week, and coach Xavi Hernandez will also have to make some changes in defense.
Gerard Pique is suspended after being sent off against Espanyol a week ago. With Ronald Araujo also doubtful with a calf problem, Eric Garcia could play alongside Clement Lenglet in a partnership unlikely to fill Barca fans with confidence.
Dani Alves also misses out through suspension, and either Oscar Mingueza or Sergino Dest will fill in at right-back, where they will have to deal with Valencia’s on-loan Tottenham winger Bryan Gil.
Under coach Jose Bordalas, Valencia will look to break up Barca’s defence any way they can, and it is no surprise that they have the ball in play for the fewest minutes in La Liga.
It will be no surprise if this game is decided from a set piece, with Valencia’s Maxi Gomez and Mamadou Diakhaby looking to ‘bully’ Garcia and Lenglet in what is unlikely to be a pretty, but certain to be a tense clash.