Barcelona fired-up for table-toppers Valencia

Barcelona striker David Villa claims the team are fired up for the midweek trip to Valencia after they ended a blip in form with a resounding 8-0 win over Osasuna.
Barcelona's forward David Villa (L) vies with Osasuna's goalkeeper Andres Fernandez Moreno during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs Osasuna

The reigning Spanish and European champions responded to draws against Real Sociedad and AC Milan by taking apart Osasuna at Camp Nou and now turn their attention to joint-leaders Valencia who have won their three opening matches.

"We travel to the Mestalla full of confidence. The excellent performance against Osasuna has given us a boost ahead of a very tough game," said Villa, who scored twice on Saturday but was overshadowed by Lionel Messi's hat-trick.

"If I don't have any injuries I think this season will be better than the last for me. I am working hard to score as many goals as I can for the team."

Much of the emphasis has been on problems at the back for Barcelona with Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol both having suffered injuries.

But one of the bonuses has been Cesc Fabregas's successful entry into the team and he seems to have already formed a close bond on the pitch with Messi.

"Although he has been away for a number of years he was brought up here and it is almost as though it is running through his veins. He was a great player at Arsenal and now surrounded with the footballers here he has been able to take a step further," said Villa.

The main threat from Valencia is Roberto Soldado who has scored five of their six goals so far.

Real Betis are another side with a 100 percent record and they face Zaragoza while Real Madrid, who dropped their first points at the weekend with a surprise 1-0 defeat away to Levante, travel to Racing Santander.

Real coach Jose Mourinho rested Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil but the game appeared to turn on the sending off of Sami Khedira at the end of the first half.

After the break Arouna Kone scored on the counter-attack for Levante.

"We were all to blame and it was a difficult game. When you are a man down it is important to still create chances and we are not offering excuses," said defender Sergio Ramos.

"It is in stadiums like this that you win or lose leagues but we need now to concentrate on picking up points again."

Sevilla are looking to continue their unbeaten run with a trip to Osasuna and Malaga take on an Athletic Bilbao side which is still coming to terms with the attacking style of new coach Marcelo Bielsa.

Atletico Madrid hit form with a 4-0 win over Racing Santander and now entertain Sporting Gijon who are the only team yet to pick up a point.

It's been a poor start to the season for Villarreal who have just one point so far and they now meet Mallorca, while Granada who beat them at the weekend, play Real Sociedad.

Tuesday

Osasuna v Sevilla, Real Sociedad v Granada, Villarreal v Mallorca

Wednesday

Rayo Vallecano v Levante, Racing Santander v Real Madrid, Malaga v Athletic Bilbao, Atletico Madrid v Sporting Gijon, Valencia v Barcelona

Thursday

Espanyol v Getafe, Real Betis v Zaragoza

Source AFP