Zaza has hit nine goals in 10 Liga starts for Valencia. Getty


  • Italy international was rested against Espanyol amid concerns over his knee injury.
  • Nemanja Maksimovic and Jeison Murillo will miss the game due to different injuries.

Valencia manager Marcelino Garcia Toral has confirmed Simone Zaza will be available when Barcelona visit Mestalla on Sunday (26 November), despite concerns over his knee injury.

Marcelino's side have emerged as a surprising candidate for the title following an impressive start to the campaign, being sat in the second place of the table after 12 games, only four points behind the Catalans and six ahead of Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.

Zaza has been a crucial player during that run, scoring nine goals in 11 appearances, including a hat-trick during the 5-0 victory over Malaga.

However, Marcelino set alarms bells ringing at Mestalla earlier this month after revealing that the former Juventus striker hae been playing with a "partial tear in the external meniscus of his knee for a while".

The Spanish boss decided therefore to give Zaza a much-needed rest for the weekend win over Espanyol amid suggestions in Spain that, at some point, the striker will require surgery to address the issue.

However, Marcelino has claimed that Zaza will be ready to lead his attack against Barcelona, barring any last-minute problems.

"Unless something unexpected happens in the last training session [on Saturday] Zaza will be available as he has been in the previous games," Marcelino said in a press conference ahead of the visit of Barcelona.

"Simo is an important player. He is having a great season, with a very high success rate in front of goal. In fact, I think he is the second top scorer in La Liga. We want him to continue this run. He is a very important player for us."

Marcelino will have just two injury absentees in the form of midfielder Nemanja Maksimovic and centre-back Jeison Murillo, after the latter suffered a groin injury during the 2-0 victory at Espanyol.

The absence of the defender is an ill-timed blow for the manager with the Colombia international having been a regular starter since his summer arrival from Inter Milan.

Ezequiel Garay and Gabriel Paulista are tipped to form the heart of the back-line to stop Lionel Messi and co.

However, Marcelino is also wary about Barcelona's impressive record in defence, with the Catalans having conceded only four goals in the opening 12 games.

"We'll try to stop Messi from influencing the game, pegging him back into the tight areas, but he tends to hit form in these types of games. I'm assuming that he didn't play on Wednesday through injury, but we'll try to nullify him," the Valencia boss added.

"I don't think it suits us, it will be tough. Barça are defensively the best La Liga side they've only conceded four goals so far this season regardless of how deep they defend. We're going to try to create as many chances as possible."

Meanwhile, Marcelino also lamented that he will have to watch the game from the stands after the manager was sent off during the win over Espanyol.

"I'd love to be on the bench, no doubt I'd love to be on the bench for this thrilling game but this is how things go, fate wants things going this way," Marcelino added. There are three points up for grabs and we want to compete against a great side looking to win it."