Barcelona face unknown in Cesare Prandelli's Valencia - Luis Enrique
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique is wary of the threat posed by an "unknown" Valencia on Saturday after Los Che recently moved onto their fourth manager in less than 12 months with the appointment of Cesare Prandelli.
Former Italy boss Prandelli replaced Pako Ayestaran earlier this month, who himself had only taken over from Gary Neville in April of this year. The English coach succeeded Nuno Espirito Santo last December, while Voro (Salvador Gonzalez Marco) had also held the position as a caretaker on two occasions.
It's for that reason that Luis Enrique is not sure what to expect at the Mestalla this weekend.
Barca were held to a 1-1 draw on their visit to Valencia last season, while they lost the return fixture at Camp Nou in April.
They did, however, dish out a 7-0 defeat when Neville was in charge in the Copa del Rey.
"We're facing a Valencia who are possibly a little unknown as Prandelli has only been there for a short time," Luis Enrique said in a news conference. "But what we saw in the last game they were well structured in defence and tried to work from the back.
"So I've seen some aspects of the new-look Valencia under their new manager. It's not a positive situation for them [14th in the table after eight games], but they have great individuals, which means they're always a difficult opponent -- as we know from previous trips to Valencia.
"Every game is different and when new managers come in, rather than look at Valencia, you can look at what they've done before.
"We can also see what they did at El Molinon [a 2-1 win against Sporting Gijon], but [Prandelli] hasn't had much time to work on things, so there won't be big changes because he can't have had a big effect in such a short time."
Enrique, who knows Prandelli from his time in charge of Roma, hopes the 59-year-old is given more time than his predecessors at a club often labelled demanding.
"Valencia are, what can I say, an intense job in football," he added. "I think Prandelli knows that. When I was at Roma and he was Italy boss we had a relationship, and he showed he has the strong character to deal with jobs like that.
"But what coaches really need is time to make their mark, so that depends on the directors' patience with him and if they give him that time. He's a well-prepared coach, I wish him a lot of luck."
Barca have problems going into the game with Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba both missing with injuries. Pique is set for three weeks on the sidelines, while Alba will be missing for two weeks.
Sergi Roberto is expected to be back, though, while Javier Mascherano has become an option at right-back and at centre-back. There is also the option of calling up players from the B team, with Diario Sport suggesting Marlon Santos could be utilised.
"We will see how Sergi Roberto is after training and if he's in the squad or if he starts," Luis Enrique explained. "Mascherano is also an option [at right-back], he played well against Manchester City and is a possiblity there for Valencia and for other games, too.
"I have thought about all the options I have, especially when you are missing players through injury in the same area.
"I still have time [before the game]. We will see in training and [on Saturday] morning, because I could call someone up late, so yes, the reserve team is always important backup."
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.