Leaders Barcelona will almost certainly be without Andres Iniesta for Saturday`s La Liga game at home to Valencia as he has not recovered sufficiently from a bruised pelvis, coach Luis Enrique said on Friday.
Barcelona have little time to rest on their laurels after a stunning victory over Paris Saint-Germain in midweek as the Catalans quest for a treble continues when Valencia visit the Camp Nou on Saturday.
Peter Lim`s takeover of Valencia has given the club`s long-suffering fans hope the Singapore billionaire`s investment will help propel their team back to the top in Spain and make them contenders in Europe again.
Valencia lost ground in the battle with Atletico Madrid and Sevilla for third place in La Liga when they conceded a late Aritz Aduriz equaliser in a bad-tempered 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao on Thursday.
Sevilla coach Unai Emery is one of the more eccentric characters in La Liga but the Andalusian club`s success this season suggests there is plenty of method in the Basque-born 43-year-old`s apparent madness.
The battle between Atletico Madrid, Valencia and Sevilla for a lucrative Champions League berth will go down to the wire, Valencia coach Nuno predicted on Wednesday as his side prepare for Thursday`s La Liga match at Athletic Bilbao.
Atletico Madrid turned up the heat on Valencia in the battle for La Liga’s third automatic Champions League berth when club top scorer Antoine Griezmann set them on the way to a 2-0 stroll at bottom side Cordoba on Saturday.
Resurgent Valencia turned up the heat on Atletico Madrid in the battle for third place in La Liga when Andre Gomes scored and then set up Paco Alcacer for their second goal in a 4-0 stroll at struggling Elche on Friday.
After failing to qualify for Europe last season, Valencia are heading into the final weeks of the La Liga campaign in a strong position to secure a lucrative berth in continental competition for next term.
Atletico Madrid have four games in the coming weeks that are likely to determine whether they have truly joined Spain`s elite or are in danger of slipping back in the second rank behind powerhouses Real Madrid and Barcelona.