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Weekend Headliner: Barca-Valencia

FC Barcelona hosts Valencia Sunday at the Nou Camp in what is surely the standout fixture across Europe this weekend. It's a massive test for Valencia in particular, as a convincing away performance against the Spanish and European champion will be a good appraisal of Valencia's title credentials. After three games, Valencia, Barcelona, and Sevilla are the only unbeaten teams left at this early stage of the La Liga season; the winner will likely be regarded as the favorite for the title. Striker Fernando Morientes has been an early revelation for Valencia, the 2004 La Liga champion, scoring five goals in his first six appearances for the club. Morientes netted a fantastic hat trick in Greece last week en route to a 4-2 Champions League victory against Olympiakos, and looks to be much more at ease playing in his home country than he did during his brief spell at Liverpool. "I wanted to return to what I knew and play the kind of soccer in which I felt more comfortable," Morientes told the Spanish sports daily El Mundo Deportivo on Thursday. He already looks to have forged a good partnership with fellow striker David Villa, who finished second in the La Liga scoring charts last year. Barcelona, of course, has the fearsome up-front combination of Samuel Eto'o, last year's leading scorer, 2005 World Player of the Year Ronaldinho, and Argentine phenom Leo Messi. Eto'o himself is already off the mark, having scored four goals in six games. Other big matches in La Liga this weekend feature first-place Sevilla away to Atletico Madrid, and in the only Saturday game Real Betis hosting fourth place Real Madrid, which failed to impress during a 2-0 home win against Real Sociedad last week.

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