FC Barcelona endured a fourth consecutive loss in all competitions after a spirited Valencia side claimed a hard fought win at Camp Nou. The loss for Barca means they are now level on points with Atletico Madrid, after once having a nine point advantage.
Crisis at Camp Nou
Barcelona dominated the opening stages, with Lionel Messi and Neymar both testing Valencia keeper Diego Alves and both times the Brazilian shot-stopper came out on top. The first chance saw Messi collect the ball at the back post, but Alves stayed big and blocked the shot.
Neymar then tried to beat Alves with a clever chip shot, but the Brazilian leapt and pawed the ball out of danger.
Valencia’s first chance came in the 17th minute, when Enzo Perez fed Rodrigo with a well weighted pass, but the young Spanish striker couldn’t hit the target and he saw his shot whistle past the post.
Diego Alves was then called into action after a quarter of an hour when Neymar controlled the ball well after a big kick from Claudio Bravo, the Brazilian then found Messi, who tried to curl the ball beyond Alves, but the Valencia goalkeeper produced a wonderful save to deny the five time Balon d’Or winner.
Moments later, Ivan Rakitic put the ball into the back of the net, unfortunately, it was his own, after some great build up play from the visitors, Guilherme Siqueira tried to square the ball across the face of goal, but Rakitic turned the ball in himself.
Barcelona didn’t trouble Los Che much for the remainder of the first-half, but the biggest opportunity for them came when Messi when he struck a freekick into the Valencia wall and then he had another bite of the cherry when he forced Diego Alves into another fine save.
On the stroke of half-time after a brilliant spell of possession from Pako Ayestaran’s side, Dani Parejo produced a moment of genius when he found Santi Mina, who fired the ball beyond Bravo to give his side a two goal lead.
A second half with limited chances
The second half was a complete contrast to the first, with chances few and far between, the first real opportunity came when Rakitic was fed through by Luis Suarez but the Croatian could only skew his shot wide.
Messi then had another freekick, but once again he could only put the ball into the wall. It could have been three when Andre Gomes turned on the edge of the box, but his shot was straight at Bravo.
After more than an hour, Barcelona finally pulled a goal back, when Lionel Messi slotted the ball beyond Alves after a brilliantly worked ball from Jordi Alba.
Ten minutes later, it was nearly 2-2, when Rakitic skipped past birthday boy Shkodran Mustafi, but once again, Diego Alves came to Valencia’s rescue with a remarkable save, sprawling to his right to keep the ball out of the back of the net.
Mustafi, who had been busy all night, making a number of key tackles and blocks, was forced to make the best block of the night when Neymar had a clear shot on goal, but the German was quick to throw his body in the way and keep his side one goal up.
Moments before the full time whistle, Gerard Pique had a glorious chance to rescue a point for his team, but he shot well wide of the post. He should’ve scored, even though he is a defender.
That was all she wrote in Barcelona, the win for Valencia moves them up to 12th and for Barcelona they still sit in first, but level on points with Atletico Madrid and only one point ahead of Real Madrid.