Barcelona bid to break record and restore morale with Valencia victory
Barcelona will break a 38-year record by avoiding defeat against Valencia on Saturday but the priority is rejuvenation following their Champions League nightmare in Rome.
If the Catalans extend their unbeaten run in La Liga to 39 games at the Camp Nou, they will pass the mark set by Real Sociedad in 1980 and take one step closer to a first invincible season.
But while they have been faultless in the league, any celebrations are likely to be tainted by Tuesday’s collapse as Barca threw away a 4-1 first leg advantage over Roma and crashed out of the Champions League quarter-finals.
The defeat has been castigated by the Spanish press and Ernesto Valverde’s side, still on track for a domestic double, are suddenly finding themselves with questions to answer.
Only Lionel Messi could score a hat-trick one match, then have his form criticised the next, but the Argentinian was out of sorts in Italy and has lacked some of his usual spark in recent weeks.
Blame, however, has been directed less at Messi than the team’s ability to cope without him at his blistering best and for this, Valverde has taken most of the flak.