Neville an observer as his Valencia host Barcelona in La Liga
Lee Gormley | December 4, 2015
Valencia v Barcelona
- La Liga
- Saturday, December 5th
- Kick-off: 19:30 GMT
- Mestella Stadium, Valencia
- Live on Sky Sports 2
Neville’s Valencia host Barcelona
Recently-appointed Valencia head coach Gary Neville will watch his new club take on reigning La Liga champions Barcelona from the Mestella Stadium stands, with Los Che hoping to overturn a torrid run of just one win in 17 previous Catalans meetings.
The hosts currently sit in an unexpected ninth position in the domestic standings ahead of the arrival of Luis Enrique’s champions, a daunting decline which Neville will have to soon address, though interim head coach Salvador Gonzalez Marcoand (Voro) and Gary’s brother Phil Neville will continue to hold the fort for now.
Both current stand-in coaches oversaw Los Che’s 3-1 Copa del Rey win over Barakaldo on Wednesday, and the home outfit are 8/1 with Coral to topple Barcelona this time around and halt their hapless fixture streak.
Neville avoids interfering
Neville’s maiden game in charge will be against Lyon in a crucial Champions League clash next week, after opting to let the team settle before making his dugout bow.
“We thought for this week it is best for me not to be on the bench against Barcelona,” explained Neville.
“On Sunday afternoon I received the first contact from [club owner] Peter Lim. It took about 24 hours to think, talk to family and then make the decision, which was given on Monday.
“Then you have to focus on the logistics. It took until Wednesday for the announcement to be made and this would have left only one training session – a new voice for this short period would not have been fair for professional players.”
Champions can cause havoc
Enrique’s visitors are sitting pretty at the summit of La Liga, after opening a four-point lead over second-placed Atletico Madrid, and have won three of the last four meetings with Valencia, as well as enjoying four consecutive freescoring outings.
In their previous four matches in all competitions, Barca have rattled in four or more goals on each occasion, including two 6-1 romps against Roma and Villanovense. Therefore, they are 12/5 to fire in four or more again this time out, with their devastating front three enjoying another rampant campaign.
Neymar leads the Liga scoring charts this term with 14 strikes, while teammate Luis Suarez sits in second with his 12 goals, and the latter South American has called for his fellow stars to push on for more silverware.
“There is enough quality in this squad to win new titles,” stated the former Liverpool marksman. “It would be very nice to repeat the treble, but we now have some very important games and then the Club World Cup, which we all want to win.
Barca front three unstoppable?
“It is great to get a six-point gap to Madrid, but Atletico are within four and they are very strong opponents.
“It is still too early to say who the candidates are to win the league. Last year we also had a bad time and then we went on to win the treble.”
Lionel Messi, Neymar and Suarez have scored 30 of their club’s 33 league goals this term and the latter Uruguayan is 16/5 to open proceedings against Valencia, while his Argentine teammate is 3/1 for a brace or more.
Paco Alcacer will be the hosts’ key attacking threat and he is 5/2 to strike anytime as his new head coach watches on as a keen observer in this intriguing La Liga encounter.
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