The surprise package of this season – Valencia, drew 1-1 against league leaders FC Barcelona yesterday. Barca have been in phenomenal form this season and snatching a point from this encounter was definitely going to be a difficult task for Valencia. However, a brilliant performance by Valencia saw them draw 1-1 against FC Barcelona. Both teams are still unbeaten in the La Liga this season and the 47000 fans at the Mestalla stadium would be pleased by their teams performance as they managed to take one point from this very crucial game against Barcelona. Even after failing to grab all 3 points against second placed Valencia, Barca continue to lead the title race. The result did not bring any changes to the position of these two in the league standings as Valencia remain on the second position, 4 points behind first placed Barcelona.
Surprise package Valencia draw 1-1 against league leaders FC Barcelona
Team News and Formations
Marcelino Garcia made 4 changes to the Valencia side that defeated Espanyol 2-0 last weekend. Garay, Soler, Guedes and Zaza replaced Latorre, Murilla, Montoya and Mina. Valencia started with a 4-4-2 formation.
Ernesto Valverde made 3 changes from the side which drew against Juventus in the UEFA Champions League. Messi, who recently signed a new contract with FC Barcelona, returned to the side after being on the bench against Juventus. Paulinho was chosen ahead of Gerard Deulofeu as Valverde looked to start with a packed and very strong midfield. He was forced to make another change due to Gerard Pique’s suspension. Thomas Vermaelen took Pique’s place in this clash. Barca started with a 4-1-2-1-2 formation.
The first half went goalless as both teams enjoyed a lot of time at the ball with Barcelona dominating the ball possession, but were not able to go past each other’s defense.
However, the visitors should have been in front as the absence of goal line technology in Spain resulted in a goal being wrongly disallowed.
Barcelona kicked off the opening 45 minutes of the game and as expected, Barca started the game with short passes and maintained possession.
The Brazilian striker, Paulinho had a chance to get Barca in front in the 4th minute when he took a shot at goal from 20 metres away. His shot was saved by Neto and Barcelona won a corner.
There was no such proper goalscoring chance for both sides in the first 25-30 minutes.
The best chance was for Paulinho whose effort was kept out by Neto.
In the 30th minute, Barcelona seemed to have taken the lead as they started to celebrate after Messi’s brilliant shot went past Neto. However, the ball bounced over the line and was then punched out by Neto. The referee and the linesman, both didnt have a good view and didn’t have any interest in regarding it as a goal. The lack of goal line technology in Spain had probably taken 2 points from FC Barcelona.
Valencia had a promising chance to counter attack on the break after the controversial decision as half of the Barcelona side was celebrating a goal, which was wrongly not given a goal, but Zaza’s shot couldnt find the target. That was indeed a very very good chance for Valencia to go infront.
Messi, in the 34th minute had a chance to score with a free kick after Kondogbia was booked for a foul on him. The freekick, although, was kept out by Neto.
The Messi-Iniesta pair combined in the 40th minute before Messi took another attempt at goal just to be saved by Neto.
The first half heroics of Neto didn’t stop there, as he made a super save just 2 minutes later to keep out a close range Suarez strike.
Valencia had the chance to break clear for the first time in a while, minutes before the half time whistle, but Zaza failed to make proper contact on a cross from Guedes and eventually, the effort was wasted.
Gabriel was booked in the 44th minute for a heavy challenge on Messi.
Valencia would have considered themselves as very lucky and fortunate enough to still be on level terms with Barcelona.
Referee Ignacio Iglesias blew the whistle for half time after adding 1 extra minute. The score at half time remained 0-0
Barcelona were absolutely dominant having 77% of ball possession in the first half. 6 out of their 7 attempts were on target.
Valencia failed to hit the target with any of their three first half attempts.
Valencia resumed the last 45 minutes of this encounter. Neither of the sides made any half time changes.
Valencia looked much better and positive in the first few minutes of the second half. The first promising chance of the second half was for Zaza. Guedes found Zaza on the edge of the Barcelona box,but his shot went just wide of the far post.
Even Barcelona came out with an attacking intent and the fans at Mestalla Stadium witnessed some thrilling end to end football. The very next minute, Vermaelen had a chance to take Barcelona ahead as he headed a perfect Rakitic corner just over the crossbar.
The Valencia fans absolutely loved the fight their team was giving. 3 minutes after that header, Messi had a strike blocked over the crossbar by Montoya. Both sides were determined to get the lead. Valencia had a half-chance in the 58th minute when Guedes brilliantly beat Samedo and ran past him inside the Barcelona box, but Ter Stegen was clever enough to come out to make a smart save.
All these chances had boosted up the players’ confidence and morale. 2 minutes later, in the 60th minute, Gaya and Rodrigo combined to make the breakthrough taking Valencia ahead. An inch perfect low cross by Gaya and a brilliant close range finish by Rodrigo had left Ter Stegen helpless. The fans at the Mestalla Stadium went absolutely mental there.
It was a serious test for the Catalans now. Making a comeback was never going to be that easy. Now, when Barca had to be careful and had to focus on making a comeback without conceding goals further, Umtiti made a heavy challenge on Guedes inside the penalty area. All Valencia players were appealing for the penalty, but luckily for Umtiti and Barcelona, they weren’t awarded one. Umtiti should probably have been a bit more careful there.
Barcelona looked short of ideas there as the Valencia defence was too stong, not allowing the Barcelona players to make some space and free themselves. Valverde used all 3 substitutions in a span of 11 minutes. Deulofeu, Denis Suarez and Vidal were brought on for Rakitic, Iniesta and Samedo.
The goalscorer Rodrigo was booked in the 74th minute for a foul on Paulinho. Valencia continued to impress as they managed to create few chances. Neto’s good day continued as he denied Suarez’s chance to equalize, with just 16 minutes left on the clock. Time kept ticking and the game came to its last 10 minutes. Being one of the best sides in the world, a lot was expected from FC Barcelona in the final stages of the game. And, they did prove their worth.
The Magician Messi lofted a brilliant pass to Jordi Alaba in the 82nd minute, who equalized with a wonderful finish. What a finish it was from the left back ! Valencia used all their substitutions in the last 8 minutes of regular time to get some hopes of a comeback. But, it was probably too late as the game ended as a draw with both teams taking a point each.
Barcelona were on the front foot after the equalizing goal. However, Valencia did have a chance to score in the 4th and last minute of additional time added by the referee. Zaza fired a Pereira cross hoping to become the hero for his side, but, the shot flew over the crossbar at the far post. The referee blew the whistle seconds after that shot and the game ended there and then.
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