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Out of form Valencia can expect Barca battering thanks to Messi

Valencia will really have to raise their game as they welcome Barcelona to the Mestalla, following a downturn in form. Los Che managed a paltry one shot on target during a bore draw with Athletic Bilbao last time out at home, and followed that up by losing to provincial rivals Levante.

Perhaps the divinely named Bats boss Nuno Espirito Santo is losing his mercurial touch. Coral certainly think so, as they make hosts Valencia rank 5/1 outsiders to beat Barca, with the Catalan giants odds-on 8/15 favourites for three points. A draw is a 7/2 shot.

Those prices on a win reflect the form of these respective La Liga giants’ leading marksmen. Francisco ‘Paco’ Alcacer has been hailed as the future of Spanish strikers, and national coach Vicente del Bosque has fast-tracked Los Che’s precocious talent into the senior setup.

Being of the generation following La Roja greats Raul Gonzalez, Fernando Torres and David Villa, Paco’s predecessor in a long line of prolific forwards at the Mestalla, is some act to follow, though. Alcacer is finding it tough, hence a two-month spell without a club goal.

However, punters should not ignore the fact that Paco netted a Nou Camp winner in last term’s reverse fixture back in February. If you fancy Alcacer to rediscover his scoring touch, then take tasty 9/4 odds in the anytime market, or 15/2 to fire home last again.

Anyone who likes the occasional wager on football knows why Barcelona are almost always favourites to win domestic duels, even against fellow top four sides in Spain. They have record-breaker Lionel Messi in their ranks.

While Paco is presently lacking the scoring punch, the visitors’ talismanic Argentine attacker has hit another purple patch. Those who wrote Messi or Luis Enrique’s side off for this season, after losing the latest El Clasico encounter with bitter rivals Real Madrid, may want to think again.

Since 2010, Messi, who is now both the all-time Champions League and La Liga top scorer, has hit three hat-tricks in this fixture (one, for the record, was a four-goal haul). Couple that with back-to-back trebles, including one against Sevilla, and he’s worth backing at 8/1 to take another match ball home.

Messi is also available at a safer 2/1 for two goals or more, but there is scant value in the odds-on 4/9 price in the anytime market. The inspirational Argentina captain also has backup in abundance, which contrasts starkly with Alcacer.

Alvaro Negredo (3/1 to score here), on loan at Valencia from Manchester City, is working his way back from injury, while fellow temporary acquisition Rodrigo Moreno (10/3), once of Bolton Wanderers, could do more to help in attack.

Los Che’s strikeforce is a real step down from the global superstars lining up against them. Luis Suarez scored his first Barca goal in the Champions League midweek, and is a 4/1 shot to grab the opener.

Either Brazil skipper Neymar (8/11 in the anytime market) or Pedro Rodriguez (5/4) will complete a three-pronged attack that Valencia’s defence simply cannot contain.

Barcelona were rampant against Sevilla last time out in La Liga, and a win to nil could easily be on the cards at 2/1, especially when you consider the Bats are lacking bite up front, so bet now.