Valencia CF and FC Barcelona entered this Sunday’s match in La Liga needing a win. Los Che had won just one of their first seven Liga encounters, while Los Blaugranas hadn’t secured three points in each of their last three outings. That sense of urgency was noticeable, but in the end neither side managed to clinch their objective. After a hard-fought contest, Valencia and Barcelona played out to an intense 1-1 draw at Mestalla on Sunday evening.
Valencia get off to an impressive start…
The game got off to an excellent start for the home side, though, as Valencia only needed two minutes to break the deadlock. A corner kick into the near post bounced off Gerard Pique, and that deflection found Ezequiel Garay for the first goal of the match. One could say that Pique was once again involved in a goal against Barca, but it’s hard to blame him here. The culture cebtre-back did everything to clear the danger, but instead sent the ball towards Garay who only had to send it home from close range.
That wasn’t enough for Valencia, though. The goal didn’t wake Barcelona up, and Valencia came close to add another goal before the 10th minute mark thanks to Michy Batshuayi, but Marc-Andre ter Stegen denied the former Dortmund star. Unfortunately, that’s where the positives ended for Los Che. They lost star winger Goncalo Guedes due to injury in the 12th minute, and Barca began to wake up shortly after that. When that happens, Barcelona usually score sooner than later… so you can guess what happened midway into the first half.
…but Messi saved the day for Los Blaugranas
Lionel Messi found himself with a bit of space roughly 30 yards away from goal, and that’s all he needs to make things happen. Messi had a one-two with Luis Suárez, and placed a shot into the bottom right corner from roughly 20 yards out to make things 1-1. The final minutes could have seen Valencia add another goal, though. Both Denis Cheryshev – who replaced Guedes – and Jose Gaya had chances to score, but missed them. As a result, the first 45 minutes ended with a 1-1 draw, but with Valencia looking decidedly on top.
One would have thought that the second half would have seen both sides playing with a more attacking intention, but that was not the case. Neither side managed to create many clear scoring chances, and the second 45 minutes were below expectations by a wide margin. Aside from a few chances from Messi or Philippe Coutinho, Barcelona couldn’t bring any sort of realistic danger towards Neto. The same could be said for Valencia: Cheryshev and Gameiro looked active, but neither could threaten ter Stegen as they did during the first half of action.
As a result, this match in Mestalla ended with a 1-1 draw, but it left a bitter taste on both sides. Not only because of the result, but also because of how it ended based on its start.
Indeed, neither side should feel happy with this draw. Barcelona now sit in second place of the standings with 15 points (W4, D3, L1), they extended their winless run in La Liga up to four games (D3, L1). Meanwhile, Valencia have won just one game this season (W1, D6, L1) and sit in 12nd place, but remain performing below the expectations. Without a doubt, both sides need to improve moving forward.
Valencia: Neto (6); Piccini (6), Garay (7), Gabriel (6), Gaya (5); Soler (5), Parejo (7), Kondogbia (6) (Coquelin (-), 79′), Guedes (-) (Cheryshev (6), 12′); Batshuayi (5), Gameiro (6) (Rodrigo (5), 67′)
Subs not used: Domenech (GK), Murillo, Latorre, Wass
FC Barcelona: Ter Stegen (6); Semedo (6), Pique (6), Vermaelen (4), Jordi Alba (6); Rakitic (6), Busquets (7), Arthur (6) (Rafinha (-), 88′); Messi (8), Suárez (6), Coutinho (5) (Dembele (-), 84′)
Subs not used: Cillessen (GK), Lenglet, Denis Suárez, Vidal, Munir
Goals: Garay (1-0, 2′), Messi (1-1, 23′)
Referee: González González
Yellow Cards: Soler, Parejo (VAL), Suárez, Coutinho (BAR)
Red Cards: None
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