Barcelona 1-0 Valencia: Match Review
Looking to bounce back strong from a 1-0 defeat to Almeria in the last Matchday, Barcelona took on relegation-threatened Valencia on Sunday night. With their boss Xavi missing on the sidelines through suspension and Gavi out for the same reason, the Catalans were far from their comfort zone.
Marc Andre Ter Stegen had Barcelona’s marquee defensive line consisting of Alejandro Balde, Andreas Christensen, Ronald Araujo and Jules Kounde guarding his goal on the night.
Franck Kessie was replaced by Sergi Roberto in midfield, with Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong completing the department. Ansu Fati played as the striker at Camp Nou with Raphinha and Ferran Torres on his left and right side, respectively.
Valencia got the game underway at Spotify Camp Nou and played the opening minutes with no shortage of confidence. At first sight, it would appear baffling that the men pushing forward in attack and winning more duels were relegation threatened.
Yet, Barcelona regained complete control of the proceedings and possession by the tenth minute. The Catalans experienced some poor passing but rectified their flaws as the game progressed.
With 15 minutes on the clock, Xavi’s side took the lead against the Mestalla-based side with a special goal.
The opening was made possible purely through Sergio Busquets’ lobbed the ball over the entire Valencia defence to unlock Raphinha. Having timed his run to perfection, the Brazilian headed the ball over the tall Mamadarshvili to give his side a deserved lead.
The hosts kept pressing after taking the lead as they hunted for a quickfire second. Ansu Fati had a great chance to score but rammed his shot straight at the Georgian keeper.
Barcelona’s right wing became the centre of all their buildup in the period that followed, with Raphinha bullying Jesus Vazquez with his movements.
The chances for the Azulgranas kept coming. In the 32nd minute, Ferran Torres’ bullet strike was kept out only by a stretched Mamadarshvili. At the other end, Correia missed a half-chance.
Ansu Fati’s poor luck in front of goal continued as he disastrously headed a great chance onto the floor in the 36th minute.
A very strange event occurred five minutes before half-time. Torres played an unnecessary long ball back to Ter Stegen, which the German collected amidst pressure. His eventual pass fell prey to Samuel Lino’s press and led to Valencia’s biggest chance of the half which was blocked by Araujo.
Three minutes later, Ilaix Moriba missed a great chance in the Barcelona area to score the equaliser but could not make the most of the mess.
Barcelona scrambled to hold onto their lead in the final minutes of the half but walked into the tunnel with their clean sheet intact.
Franck Kessie replaced Frenkie de Jong at half-time.
The hosts won a penalty in the 53rd minute when Hugo Guillamon blocked Kounde’s strike with his hand. Ferran Torres took a terrible penalty, missing the goal and wasting the team’s best chance. Less than a minute later, Fati hit the post, almost taking revenge for being pushed away from the penalty.
Hugo Duro had a splendid chance to equalise the score close to the hour mark but smothered his chance.
The game turned on its head when Araujo was sent off for a professional last-ditch tackle to deny Valencia an almost guaranteed equaliser.
Ansu Fati came off for Marcos Alonso at the hour mark.
Despite going down a man, Barcelona did not slow down in the final third. The game continued to operate in balance, with both teams creating chances with similar frequency.
However, the equation changed in the final ten minutes as the visitors began to take control. Sergi Roberto came off for Eric Garcia in the 81st minute, switching the formation to one with three centre-backs.
There were massive penalty shouts from Valencia in the 86th minute, but the referee would not hear any appeals. Angel Alarcon came on for Raphinha in the 87th minute.
Five minutes were added on, but Valencia could not capitalise on their one-man advantage. The win takes Barcelona ten points clear of Real Madrid, albeit temporarily, with yet another hard-fought 1-0 win in La Liga.