Valencia star Jeison Murillo has been ruled out for the crucial La Liga clash against Barcelona on Sunday (26 November) after suffering a groin injury during the 2-0 victory at Espanyol.

The news is a major blow for Marcelino Garcia Toral ahead of the visit of La Liga leaders as the Colombian international has been a crucial player for the Spanish boss since his loan arrival from Inter Milan during the summer transfer window.

The 25-year-old centre-back has started seven of the opening 12 games of La Liga to help Valencia establish themselves as the surprise alternative to Barcelona for the Spanish title.

Yet, Los Che are currently sitting in the second place of the table, only four points behind the Catalans and six ahead of Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid after having won their last eight games.

Murillo led Marcelino's back-line during the weekend's win over Espanyol but he was forced off and replaced by Garay before the end due to an injury.

Subsequent scans has confirmed Valencia fans' worst fears with the Colombian being rule out for a clash which is expected to test Los Che's capacity to challenge Barcelona for the title.

"After undergoing a series of medical tests, VCF defender Jeison Murillo will not be available for the next game due to sustaining a groin injury which requires further tests in the forthcoming days and a subsequent treatment procedure," the club confirmed.

Ezequiel Garay is expected take Murillo's place in the heart of the defence alongside Gabriel Paulista with the hope of stopping Lionel Messi and co when the leaders visit Mestalla.

Meanwhile, Marcelino will also be sweating over the fitness of Simone Zaza after last week the manager revealed that the club's top scorer has been playing with a serious knee injury.

"Zaza's had a partial tear in the external meniscus of his knee for a while. Sometimes it's blocked and he can't play. He's okay for now, but at some point he'll have to undergo surgery. It can't be cured with rest," Marcelino revealed in the preview of the game with Espanyol.

Marcelino decided to rest the former Juventus striker for the win over Espanyol in order to have him fresh for the crucial visit of Barcelona.

Meanwhile, La Liga sensation Gonçalo Guedes and Valencia youngster Carlos Soler were also rested at the weekend but they should both earn recalls to face Ernesto Valverde's side.