Saturday, April 18, 2015

Barcelona 2-0 Valencia La Liga 18/4/2015

There was much talk before the game that Valencia could win this one and cause an upset and for long spells during the game that certainly seemed a possibility.  However if you are going to win at Barcelona you do not give away a goal in the first minute.  All looked fine with a Valencia attack down the right and a cross from Feghouli which almost reached the oncoming Alcacer but the ball was cut out and Barca swiflty countered.  The ball was played to Messi who calmly slotted it to Saurez on the right and he easily beat Alves at the far post. Arguably Orban may have been a little more quicker off the mark but he lost his footing and that was all that was needed for the home team to take advantage.  OK, we are thinking, are heads going to drop and are we in for an embarrassing afternoon ?  The answer to that question was soon answered with Valencia picking themselves up and going straight back at them.
Barcelona were looking really rattled and chance after chance came for the visitors.  But for a little bad fortune and bad finishing something positive could have come from the pressure.  However in the 8th minute an opportunity arose when Rodrigo was floored from behind by Pique and the referee rightly pointed to the penalty spot. Captain Parejo stepped up and placed the ball to Bravo's right but the keeper guessed the right way and saved quite easily.  A chanced missed but it did not deter Valencia and they had the better of the play in the first half and Alcacer was unlucky on the half hour when he shot on the turn and his effort hit the post with Bravo well beaten. Pique was looking vulnerable on a number of occasions but Valencia were unable to take advantage.
In the second half Gaya comes on for Orban who wasn't having the best of days against Saurez and Messi, and was carrying a yellow card and looked like he was soon going to pick up another one. A good change in my opinion as we really did not want to go down to ten men. Barcelona were now slowing the game down to their tempo and taking more control of the proceedings with their neat passing mainly due to the introduction of Rakitic in place of Adriano. They themselves were also unlucky when a Messi shot hits the bar having left Alves rooted the the spot.
In the final spell of the game Valencia pushed everybody except Alves forward but could not find a way through the home defence.  Just to rub salt into the wounds Messi was picked out with a long ball and had all the time in the world to run forward unchallenged.  Alves blocked his attempt to chip him but the ball fell kindly to his feet and he was able to poke home his 400th league goal to finish Valencia off in the final seconds.

A 2-0 defeat can never be good but the team played really well and showed that they can compete with the best teams in the world. Disappointing that we dropped the pace in the second half considering we had no midweek game and they did.  I also think the performance showed yet again that we need somebody who can score goals.  We cannot keep saying we were unlucky, we need results. Also great that we can talk about the game without the referee being mentioned. I did not really notice that he was there and that is how it should be in my opinion.

Player performances
Alves 7  Not needed too many times and had no chance with the goals scored.
Barragan  7   Played OK and did what was needed, also got forward and helped out with the attack a few times.
Ottamendi  7.5   Good solid performance yet again and no fault for the goals. Had to push up at the end to help get a goal and the second goal was not important.
Mustafi  7.5   Again his usual reliable self and showed his quality against the top players.
Orban  6.5   Definitely not one of his better games and had to be taken off as his challenges were getting a bit wild after he picked a his first card.
Fuego 7.0  A solid enough performance and showed again that he is not intimidated by big name players
Parejo 7  disappointing penalty miss. Not a bad effort really and if Bravo had gone the other way it would have been a fine penalty. But the only good penalty is the one that results in a goal.
Gomez  7   Glimpses of his brilliance but not really enough  to alter the course of the game.
Feghouli  6.5  Not  really enough influence on the game and was kept quiet
Rodrigo  6.5  Looked  willing and lively and made a few chances but still looks lacking in that final ruthless edge.
Alcacer 6.5  Again, plenty of effort and unlucky when he hit the post but we need him to be more ruthless in front of goal to fulfill his full potential.

Gaya 6.5  looked a bit rusty but that is to be expected and I am sure he will soon be back to speed
Cancelo 6.5  Brings something a bit extra that Barragan doesn't seem to have but not given the chance to shine today
Negredo  N/A  not enough time.

 Barcelona: Bravo; Alves, Piqué, Mathieu, Adriano (Rakitic, min.46); Mascherano, Xavi (Sergio Roberto, min.80), Sergio Busquets; Messi, Luis Suárez (Pedro, min.65)  Neymar.
 Valencia: Alves; Barragán, Mustafi, Otamendi, Orbán (Gayá, min.46); Parejo, Javi Fuego, Feghouli (Joa Cencelo, min.67), André Gomes, Rodrigo  Alcácer (Negredo, min.74)
Goals 1-0, m.1: Luis Suárez, .   2-0, m.93: Messi.

Attendance  92,000