Valencia's youth can trouble stress-tested Barcelona all the way

Lack of rotations can bite Valverde

Posted Monday, November 20, 2017 by

Valencia's youth can trouble stress-tested Barcelona all the way

If any Real Madrid fans are looking for optimism with their side languishing ten points off the top, they need only look at how Luis Enrique's tired Barcelona almost fumbled the league title straight to their rivals in 2015/16.

And Ernesto Valverde is risking the same thing happening again as he hesitates in the face of rotating his side during the first third of the campaign.

However, this time, it doesn't appear to be Los Blancos who will benefit from the Azulgrana potentially dropping off, but Valencia.

Plenty of surprise title challengers have emerged over the years in the Spanish top-flight and Los Che wouldn't actually be considered a red herring at all, had they not spent the last two years floundering under a number of different coaches.

Now under Marcelino's expertise and with no European struggle to contemplate, Valencia have mustered eight consecutive victories and can drive a stake through the heart of Barcelona's suddenly-touted parade to the title with victory over the leaders next weekend.

The reason why the Estadio Mestalla outfit are unlikely to lose their tempo, in physical terms at least, is their severe youth.

Only Ezequiel Garay is over 30 in the Valencia squad with Carlos Soler and Goncalo Guedes (both 20), Santi Mina and Andreas Pereira (both 21), and Jose Gaya (22) all regulars in Marcelino's thoughts.

In response, Barcelona have their been-there, done-that brigade at the forefront of their plans; Andres Iniesta's importance to the side has only increased while Messidependence hasn't promised to end anytime soon.

Perhaps this could lead to complacency, but any team who failed to win either of their two favoured trophies last season wouldn't dare fall into such traps.

Thus it is a youth versus experience dogfight emerging atop LaLiga and it promises to be a fascinating one to watch. Can Los Che keep their heads? Can the Catalans keep their legs? Sunday's match will give us our first clue.

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