Three talking points from Barcelona 1-0 Valencia
Barcelona’s win over Valencia was not beautiful by any means. The Catalans struggled against the nineteenth-placed side in La Liga for the second time in two weeks, however, they were on the right side of a 1-0 result this time.
With Xavi, Gavi, Ousmane Dembele, Robert Lewandowski and Pedri missing on the night, it was up to Oscar Hernandez to manage the team’s situation from the sidelines.
The game went down to the wire with nail-biting action and ended with Barcelona extending their lead atop La Liga to ten points.
Raphinha’s well-worked effort separated the two teams after ninety minutes, though Barcelona played most of the second half a man down.
Barça Universal brings you three talking points from Barcelona vs Valencia.
1. Defensive grit all the way
Ronald Araujo’s red card in the middle of the second period was perhaps the turning point in the entire game. The Uruguayan was Barcelona’s best defender in the first half but was forced to make a last-ditch professional foul after Koude misplayed a header to save the blushes.
The Blaugranas were dominating the game up until that point and should have been two goals to the good, at least.
When their star defender left the field, the switch in attack turned off. Yet, there was no tangible deficit in the league leaders defensively.
The 30 minutes that followed saw Valencia create chance after chance to make the most of the situation. Yet, Barcelona got away with not just three points but a clean sheet on the night.
Jules Kounde and Alejandro Balde shut down the visitors’ flanks, while Andreas Christensen and Marcos Alonso dished out fine performances to deny Ruben Baraja’s men.
Eric Garcia came on in the final minutes and added resilience to the already solid fortress, guaranteeing three points for his side.
Valencia boasted 60% of the possession in the second half with seven shots and three blocked shots. Yet, not one opportunity translated to a big chance, and the visitors hit the target only once.
With 16 clearances, six interceptions, eight tackles and 24 duels won in the second period, the Catalan defence showed the world why they are so highly regarded.
2. Unlucky Fati?
When Barcelona announced their official lineup, Ansu Fati’s name was one of the most anticipated inclusions. The youngster had been on a rough patch in recent months, and a start on Sunday was seen as the perfect chance for him to recoup confidence.
However, it was just not meant to be for the youngster at Spotify Camp Nou.
The protege attempted several shots in the first half, but none came to fruition. His movements off the ball were promising and led to inroads for his team but his contributions on the ball were limited.
Fati did not complete a single dribble on the night and was barely seen in front of the goal as a target man. He had a glorious chance to score in the 37th minute when he got to the end of Raphinha’s cross. However, his header hit the ground and was well off target.
The youngster asked Ferran Torres for the penalty kick in the second period but was pushed aside. Eventually, the Spaniard missed the penalty, and Fati’s anger in the subsequent period brought some of his best moments.
Seconds after the missed spot-kick, Fati made a bright run into the box and beat the keeper only to hit the post. His movements were visibly better and frustration had finally helped him transcend his mental block.
Yet, there was only poorer luck in store for him. Ronald Araujo’s sending off just two minutes after the youngster’s resurgence made the manager take him off for Marcos Alonso and brought an anti-climactic end just when his performance appeared to hit its climax.
3. Brazilian Samba
It is only when one understands Raphinha for who he is that his impact on the field is appreciable. The Brazilian is no Dembele to bamboozle his opponents with menacing pace and dribbles. Moreover, he does not provide as much of a creative threat in the final third, if not more.
Yet, the winger has one skill in his arsenal the Frenchman doesn’t — goalscoring instinct. In the absence of Robert Lewandowski and Ousmane Dembele, it is thus not surprising that it was Raphinha who scored the winning goal.
The goal in itself was a thing of beauty, too. Indeed, it was Sergio Busquets’ perfectly timed ball that set up the Brazilian. However, Raphinha timed his run to perfection and executed a headed finish with relative ease to secure the three points.
Apart from the goal, the former Leeds United forward was Barcelona’s most potent force in the final third. He created a whopping four chances, including one big chance, took three shots on the night and completed three dribbles.