Friday, February 2, 2018

Barcelona CF 1 - 0 Valencia CF Match Report

Barcelona hosted Valencia for the for the first leg of Copa Del Rey semi-finals at Camp Nou. Marcelino went with a strong starting XI. Valverde's lineup also was pretty strong. I mean Messi never misses a game and they have ton of talent everywhere.

Line up:
Montoya - Paulista - Vezo - Gaya
Soler - Parejo - Coquelin - Periera
           Vietto - Rodrigo

Valencia's game plan was to park the bus and strike on counters. It's a pity we don't have players with the technique/ first touch to execute the idea of counter attack, because in the first half I think we had 20% possession and were gifting Barcelona possession even when there was no pressure applied by the Barcelona player, when all we had to do is string three passes together and out race Barcelona's defense. Watching this was particularly painful as Barcelona were camped in front of Valencia's D the whole half and with no threat of counters they were pushing even higher up.
We actually defended really well. I think Barcelona had 0 shots on the goal in first half. But the problem was transitioning defense to attack. Defense would win the ball or Coquelin (had a stellar game) and pass it to the middle of the field where Rodrigo or Vietto would loose the ball almost immediately either by a very poor first touch or a very poor first pass. The times the were able to pass - Periera would loose it and on it went. I think the Ref was not that great as well. Sergi  Roberto's tackle on Periera should have been a red. There was a visible swelling on his thigh and he was hobbling for the last 10 mins of first half. Compare this to the tackle Periera put on Messi. Periera won the ball and his momentum caught Messi's standing leg and for this it was yellow. Just inconsistent refereeing.
In 45th minute we had the best attacking move of the half - Vietto drove the football and after some interplay out-muscled Pique by the goal line - but his cross lacked quality. The clearance landed at Montoya's feet who played a nice 1-2 with Rodrigo and had a good shot from outside the D.

2nd half the game opened up with Valencia attempting to push men front. Periera was subbed in for Maksimovic who again showed  his quality. Had a great run down the wing but the final cross was a let down. The deadlock was broken in 65th minute. Messi finding Suarez who headed the ball in. Gaya was caught watching the ball instead of marking his man and Suarez drifted off to get open. A lapse in concentration - Gaya had a good game tbh. Ferran Torres came on for Carlos Soler and Rodrigo Moreno came off for Santi Mina. Mina had 3 really good attacking forays with two difficult chances. The first was a through ball from Ferran which pitted Mina against Cillessen. Mina should have tried a chip but instead tried to round the keeper who cut him off. Tough chance and the angle of his run resulted in the ball on his weaker foot but still he should have the cojones to take the shot. The 2nd was a ping ball from Maksimovic in the dying minutes of the game and I felt Mina jumped a little too early and couldn't get control on the header. Nice try on a very tough chance.

Barcelona 1 - Valenica 0
Suarez (65)

Final thoughts:
The strategy/ tactics were very good. Clog the middle and force Barca to go out wide. The defense and midfield organization was impeccable. Very happy to see that Marcelino had put attention to details. Montoya basically picked up every run that Alba made without loosing the defense shape. That's learning from mistakes(given how Alba got behind him and scored the equalizer in mestalla)! We conceded free kicks but looked like we were prepared for it. The let down was triggering the counters. It's just lack of quality in out attacking players. Nothing much to say about that.
To me this tie is in a very bad shape. We need to score atleast 2 goals without conceding. Seems like a tall ask and considering how faltering our counter attack is and putting 3 past Barca at Mestalla and conceding only 1 would be a miracle. The most likely result would be a 2-2 at Mestalla. Will be over the moon if we qualify for the finals - let's see what Marcelino can inspire!

Player Ratings:
Juame - 6: Didn't have much to do. When called upon was assured. Couldn't do much about the goal. Had a nice deflection if first half which put the ball out of Suarez's reach. I like his keeping skills more than Neto.
Gaya - 4.5: Except for the mistake on goal, had a good game. Just needs to get more aware instead of being drawn to the ball. Used his hands to keep the ball from going in - this could have been a direct red.
Vezo - 6.5: He is continuing to impress me. Looks fast, assured in defending and today was one of the ultimate challenges.
Paulista - 6: Had a good game as well. Little aggressive but played well.
Montoya - 6.5: Seeing some of his last season form. He and Soler defended very well on the right.

Periera - 5: Helped out in defense. Wasteful in possession. Unlucky injury - hope it's nothing serious but there was an obvious swelling
Coquelin - 7:   He played really well. Intercepted the balls, put in tackles. Very impressive performance.
Parejo - 5: Defending is not his forte, but tried his best. Couldn't get the counter attacks going and when he did, up front would mess it up.
Soler - 6: Very good game by Soler. Was tested by Initesta, Messi, Alba on numerous runs, but combined well with Montoya. The only guy in first half trying to jail-break.

Vietto - 5: Wow, Simeone has really done a number on this kid. Abysmal in first half. Slowly grew into the game and had a better second half.
Rodrgio - 2:  Apart from his header to Montoya for the shot in 45th minuted, didn't notice he was playing.

Maksimovic - 6.5: Played really well on the right and then on the left. good player!
Mina - 6: 10 mins and 2 great chances. Got to give some credit.
Ferran - N/A: Had one great pass for the goal and one bad pass which started Barcelona's counter, but looks really good with ball at his feet.