Barcelona will be looking to rebound from the first loss of the campaign after perhaps their poorest performance in more than four seasons when they play winless Valencia in the Spanish league.
Coach Tito Vilanova glossed over Barcelona’s bad form in losing the Spanish Super Cup to Madrid on Wednesday, and the Spaniard won’t be on the sidelines for the match at the Camp Nou as he is beginning a two-match ban.
Madrid controlled the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup, leading 2-0 by the 20th minute after goals by Gonzalo Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo against a Barcelona defence that was without injured pair Dani Alves and Carles Puyol.
“Now we have to turn our attention to Sunday. We lost one title but the most important ones remain to be played for”
Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez
It took Barcelona 37 minutes to register their first shot in the 2-1 defeat to lose the Spanish Super Cup on away goals. Looking to wrest the league title back from Madrid, the Catalan club can ill-afford a repeat against Valencia team eager to turn its uneven start around.
“We started flat and we paid the price,” Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez said.
“Now we have to turn our attention to Sunday. We lost one title but the most important ones remain to be played for.”
Barcelona will have to re-organise their backline, with Alves and Puyol in doubt and fullback Adriano likely banned after receiving a red card against Madrid. New addition Alex Song may play after making his debut Wednesday.
Valencia have drawn their first two games, including surrendering a two-goal lead in a 3-3 draw against promoted Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday.
Barcelona, Valladolid and Rayo Vallecano are the only teams to start the championship with two straight victories. Rayo play Sevilla and Valladolid are at troubled Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.
Madrid, who had made their worst start in nearly 40 years before their Super Cup victory, play Granada on Sunday still looking for their first domestic league win and trailing Barcelona by five points.