Sunday, June 26, 2022

Valencia 1-4 Barcelona: Key Talking Points As Xavi’s Side Run Rampant At The Mestalla

Tom Dunstan in Editorial, La Liga 21 Feb 2022

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Desperate to extend their stay in the top-four on Sunday afternoon, Barcelona certainly laid down a real marker at the Mestalla as they stormed their way to a 4-1 win against Valencia.

Mounting a comeback against Italian giants Napoli in midweek as they snatched a 1-1 draw in their Europa League first-leg showdown, Xavi’s side now find themselves enjoying a much-needed five-match unbeaten run across all competitions.

Producing what many around Catalonia will regard as Barca’s most polished display since bringing back their former midfield icon, Sunday’s guests also pilled more pressure onto an inconsistent Valencia side.

In a battle that was largely one-way traffic at the Mestalla, we have taken a look at the key talking points.

Xavi gets the performance he had hoped for

Announcing back in November that Xavi would be the man to replace Ronald Koeman, it is fair to say that Barcelona’s new boss has struggled to offer the Spanish heavyweights some immediate stability.

However, still managing to hang onto their spot in the top-four and knowing how important it is to secure Champions League football for the Nou Camp this season, the former World Cup-winner will be excited by a rampant display on Sunday afternoon.

Opening the scoring midway through the first-half as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang bagged his first goal since moving from Arsenal last month, Barca produced what was a scintillating display during the first 45.

Welcoming back Ousmane Dembele who was making his first La Liga start since January 8th, Xavi’s side headed down the Mestalla tunnel with a 3-0 lead at the interval and all three points all but in the bag.

While Sunday’s guests might have thought they could face a nervy second-half as Valencia pulled one back seven minutes after the restart, Barca showed a real composure that would have impressed their new boss.

Watching Aubameyang eventually leave with the match ball after Pedri’s driven effort took the smallest of glances off of the ex-Arsenal striker’s back, Xavi really couldn’t have wished for a better afternoon away from the Nou Camp.

A bad week for the Bats

Enjoying what was an eye-catching run of form when signing of 2021, it is no secret that some in Valencia’s camp had their sights set on trying to secure a European return this season.

However, coming under real scrutiny for a 2-1 defeat away at relegation scrappers Alaves last weekend, it appears that there could be some growing pressure on José Bordalás’ shoulders at the Mestalla.

Despite watching Carlos Soler pull back a goal minutes after the restart, the Bats have now failed to win any of their previous seven La Liga contests, a run that stems all the way back to December 20th.

Freefalling their way down the table and mustering just a pair of points on their recent domestic nightmare, some sections of Sunday’s home support made their displeasure heard at the final whistle.

While Valencia might have thought they had a real chance of causing an upset here, they could only muster 36% possession and their second-half improvements will mean little to Bordalás.

Cutting a frustrated figure on the sidelines after a dreadful first-half display, the former Getafe boss will know that the pressure is firmly on.

What’s coming up for both?

Heaping praise on his side’s display at the Mestalla following Sunday’s 4-1 romp, there is no doubt that Barcelona and Xavi will be desperate to keep up that momentum.

Marking their return from January’s brief winter break with an action-packed 4-2 win against defending Spanish champions Atletico Madrid, they are now enjoying a La Liga unbeaten run that stems back to December 4th.

Still hanging onto their spot in the top-four, the Champions League contenders will be next seen on Thursday night when they make the trip out to Italy for what is a crucial second-leg showdown against Napoli.

However, while Barca might be looking to build off of their recent boost, Valencia and an under-pressure Bordalás will know that they now face a must-win meeting when they travel to the Son Moix next weekend.

Ahead of their Copa del Rey semi-final meeting against Athletic Bilbao on March 2nd, Los murciélagos will next seen as they faceoff against relegation outsiders Mallorca.

Match Report:

Valencia: Mamardashvili, Foulquier, Diakhaby, Alderete, Gaya, Gil, Moriba, Guillamón, Soler, Duro, Guedes

Subs: Gómez, André, Racic, Lato, Cömert

Barcelona: Ter Stegen, Dest, Araujo, Garcia, Alba, Gavi, Busquets, F. De Jong, Torres, Aubameyang, Dembele

Subs: L. De Jong, Nico, Mingueza, Traore

Goals: Valencia: Soler 52′ – Barcelona: Aubameyang 23′, 38′, 63′, F. De Jong 32′

Yellow Cards: Valencia: Lato, Moriba, Soler – Barcelona: Dest, Araujo, Alba, Nico

Red Cards: N/A

Referee: Carlos del Cerro Grande

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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