WHEN your manager decides to tell the press there's a good chance you might get humped in the next match you have to question whether turning up is a good idea at all.

Valencia boss Unai Emery told his troubled stars they'll be “cannon fodder” if they allow Barcelona to dictate pace and possession at the Mestalla tonight.

Tackling those key factors is easier said than done, though, and he's right in that standing off such a wonderfully gifted side will only lead to trouble.

However, I think Emery is at it. He knows the pressure on his players is minimal and by painting them as complete outsiders in a game they could easily make very difficult he's playing to the egos of his squad.

Barca were devastating again at the weekend – it's only news to point out when they're less than brilliant  – and will go into this clash full of their usual swagger.

The champions have dropped just two points on the road this season, another record chalked up by the Catalan giants. By this rate, come the start of next season they'll have their own Guinness Book of World Records.

Xavi should return to the Barca squad but the dynamic midfield of Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Seydou Keita struck a good balance against Mallorca so gaffer Pep Guardiola may stick with the same starting line-up and leave the little genius to rest further on the bench.

Dani Alves should replace fellow Brazilian Adriano at the back after returning from injury and suspension.

Carles Puyol, Victor Valdes and Jeffren will be absentees for the Blaugrana and there's even doubts over Guardiola being fit to stand in the dugout.

He's got a back problem but, contrary to reports, there's no evidence to suggest it was caused by spending the weekend doubled up laughing at Cristiano Ronaldo's constant whinging.

The main threat from Los Che is, naturally, found with front pairing Roberto Soldado and Aritz Aduriz. I'm a big fan of the latter but he'll miss out on the trip tonight.

It might be interesting to note the last time these sides met it ended in a 2-1 win for Barca with unlikely trio Iniesta, Puyol and Pablo getting the goals.

An even more interesting statistic is that in three years of dominance, Guardiola has yet to win away to Valencia.

Regardless, I still can't see beyond Barcelona. It's now March which means the shortest month of the year and the annual “slump” in form for the Catalans, has passed and we're set to see a real return to form.

Back Barca at 8-13 with Paddy Power and totesport to win. Valencia are 5-1 at Ladbrokes with the draw 3-1 at totesport.

I'd take Lionel Messi to score at 4-5 with 888sport but a good bet may be David Villa at 1-1 with Ladbrokes finding the net as he marks his first return to the Mestalla since leaving Valencia.

To score first it's Messi (3-1, Paddy Power) and Villa (7-2, Stan James).

Bayern Munich v Schalke (German Cup)

There's little to no chance of Bayern Munich winning the league after they slumped 3-1 to leaders Borussia Dortmund at the weekend.

Their Champions League hopes are still intact after a late winner in the San Siro last week but realistically this may be the Bavarians' only real shot at silverware.

If they see off Schalke, who have not only failed to live up to the hype brought by their summer signings but are enduring one of their worst ever seasons, they'll face Duisburg in the Final, a second division side.

I can't see past Bayern on this one. They're 1-2 with Stan James and various others but for better value you could add Mario Gomez (1-1, bet365) or Arjen Robben (11-8, Boylesports) to score at anytime.

Getafe v Atletico Madrid

I've tried to stick by Atletico Madrid in the hope they'd turn potential into results but, more often that not, they've disappointed. Getafe are looking strong and have a number of key players back for this one.

A creaking Atleti defence has been at odds all season and they'll be without Tomas Ujfalusi tonight which is a huge loss.

My pick would be Getafe (3-1, bWin) and for Miku, who is just over 2-1 at bet365, to be among the goals.


Villa to score (1-1, Ladbrokes)


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