Not at Valencia, at the Camp Nou!
Alexis Sanchez got the scoring started in the sixth minute as a great cross by Lionel Messi went across the pitch, and Alexis put a nice touch on the finish as the ball lobbed over Valencia goalkeeper Diego Alves for the 1-0 lead. Dani Parejo tied it in the 44th minute as a break led to Dani’s second goal in La Liga this season.
Piatti gave Valencia the lead just minutes into the second half, stunning the Camp Nou. A handball called on Valencia inside the box lead to Messi getting his first La Liga goal of 2014 via the penalty spot. Valencia retook the lead a few minutes later as poor defending by Barça once again led to a Che goal, this time by Paco Alcácer. 3-2, game, set, match.
One of the worst performances I’ve seen in recent years by FC Barcelona. Valencia showed a lot of heart, and deserved the win. No excuses. Hats off to Los Che.
Let’s get to the Best and the Worst.
My point exactly.
The Worst: FC Barcelona—all of the team
I have never given all of FC Barcelona the "Worst" in a game, but on Saturday, that’s what they were.
Alexis Sanchez scored a nice goal, and Messi’s penalty goal was spot on as well, but other than that, Sanchez or Leo were not able to do much on the night. Partial credit goes to Valencia and their defense. But neither Leo nor Alexis did enough to finish off Valencia in the first half, plus needed to do more to create goal-scoring opportunities in the second half.
The rest of the team was bad. Xavi's, Cesc Fabregas', and Sergio Busquets’ passes were off. Dani Alves lost the ball too many times. Jordi Alba was wild, and was sent off due to his yellow cards. Victor Valdes was poorly positioned for two of the three Valencia goals. And did anyone see or hear if Pedro played in this game, because I didn’t see his presence in this game at all!
I don’t know what happened between Wednesday’s win against Levante and game time against Valencia, but Barcelona looked uninterested after the first 20-30 minutes of the game, lacked creativity, and some people would say lacked heart toward the end of the game. That can’t be said about Messi, who had a great shot to tie it up in stoppage time, but his shot went just left of the post. After that Leo miss, I knew it just wasn’t meant to be for Barça.
The continuing demise of the Barcelona defense showed its face against Valencia. Jordi Alba had his worst game of the season, and not just because he was sent off late. When he was in, Jordi was sloppy both on defense and on offense for all of the game, minus one play. Dani Alves was complaining a bit too much, and needed to help out the CBs more often.
Speaking of the CBs, Javier Mascherano was off on the night. Finally, Gerard Pique was horrible and, quite frankly, deserves to be benched. But even if Tata Martino wanted to bench Pique, he pretty much can’t, as Mascherano will miss the next Liga game due to suspension (accumulation of yellow cards). Pique was sloppy, looked uninterested, and continues to show why he deserves much of the criticism fans and media say about him.
Perhaps Pique was too busy thinking about Shakira’s sexy new music video with Rihanna to think about defending.
FYI: Don’t get me wrong, I like that video. But hey, priorities first.
I must question Tata Martino’s decision to take out Cesc Fabregas late in the game for Cristian Tello. As I mentioned in a previous article, if you’re going to go down, you might as well go down with your best players on the pitch. I don’t care about the rotation when points are about to be dropped. Points > rotation, any day. Even if his legs were tired, a tired Cesc Fabregas gives you a better chance of creating a goal-scoring opportunity than Cristian Tello does, with all due respect to Tello. The better move would have been to take out Pedro, who was practically invisible for the game, and bring in Tello. As much as I like Tata, once again he’s made a questionable move when his team is leaving points on the table.
What We Learned: Barça may have to be perfect the rest of the season to have a shot at the Liga title.
With this loss to Valencia, FC Barcelona will essentially have to go perfect the reason of the La Liga season to have a chance of winning La Liga. Barça will now have to go into the Santiago Bernabeu and win against Madrid in March. Before Saturday, a draw at the Bernabeu would have been a decent result. Now, it’s all or nothing for a win. Barcelona can get a win at Madrid; I’m not worried about that. My worry is the other games this team has to play. Why? Because I know Barça will get up for a Clásico game, but will they get up for a lesser team? That worries me.
Valencia is not a great team, with all due respect, yet Barcelona made them look like Bayern Munich! Atletico Madrid is a tough team, and it may come down to that final game against Atleti at the Camp Nou for the Liga title.
What We Also Learned: The sins of Barcelona are once again showing their presence on the pitch.
The best quote of the night came from Telegraph Sport’s Juan Arango when he tweeted: "Barça's sins of the past catching up to them now. Not killing off matches and not enough chances sealed fate."
Once again, we witness a game that Barça dominate early, but fail to finish off the opponent early, allow the opponent to get back in the game, and make the game more difficult than it should have been. For the most part, Barça have been able to win these games in the end. But the team has been walking on the edge of disaster with these types of games for too long, and eventually, they had to fall off said edge.
On Saturday, FC Barcelona fell off the edge.
I’m not trying to overreact about this loss, but this performance by FC Barcelona’s defense is another example why a true centre-back is still needed, and has been needed for years now. Marc Bartra continues to be the best CB this team has had all season, and with him signed up for years to come, he is one of the pillars of the back line. But Gerard Pique continues to be inconsistent, and that continues to make many question if he deserves to stay or go. Mascherano has his good games and bad. And Carles Puyol, for as much as I love el capi, he is probably done after this season. He’s been a warrior for years, but our warrior’s injuries have finally caught up to him.
My hope is that new FCB president Josep Maria Bartomeu will not be like his friend and predecessor, Sandro Rosell, and will finally bring a true CB to Barcelona this summer. I don’t know who it should be, but all I know is that one needs to come as soon as possible. The Barça board can pre-approve a €600 million plan for a stadium renovation, but not approve to spend €30-€50M on a few CBs?! Or even one CB?! Bartomeu, change this! Our defense is a running joke, and reinforcement are and have been needed!
Barcelona’s defense bends too many times. On Saturday, they broke. I don’t even want to think about this defense against Manchester City in the Champions League just yet. I believe in my team, but I’m also realistic. FCB can move on, but it’s going to be tough.
There are many that say Barcelona has always needed and needs a true striker as well. Just saying.
What’s Next?: Wednesday vs. Real Sociedad in Copa del Rey semifinals
I don’t know about you, but my hope is that Barcelona takes out their frustration over the loss against Valencia on Real Sociedad in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal match-up. I’m sure for all the Barça players, Wednesday can’t get here soon enough.
Xoel’s Final Word
It was one of the worst overall performances in recent years for Barcelona as El Blaugrana were defeated by Valencia 3-2 at the Camp Nou on Saturday. Congratulations to Valencia on a well-deserved win.
I am disappointed in my club’s performance, but despite of my blunt criticism of Barcelona, I still love my club—through the good times and the bad. I expect/hope for better performances the rest of the season. La Liga now becomes an uphill battle. And this team will fight on to get back on top. A "comeback" Liga title is still a Liga title.
For now, the focus shifts to the Copa del Rey and Real Sociedad.
Time to show your true colors, FC Barcelona. Blaugrana colors.
Time to show more heart and passion.
Time to focus and win.
Xoel, The Voice of FC Barcelona