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La Liga: FC Barcelona 1-0 Valencia CF: Match Review

Que Golazo!
Que Golazo!

FC Barcelona scraped to a 1-0 win over Valencia in Sunday’s late kick-off thanks to Adriano’s long-range strike on the 23rd minute. The Blaugrana were comfortable for the most part, dominated possession for the entire 90 minutes and in truth, they should have wrapped up the game long before the final whistle. However, a combination of poor finishing from Cesc Fàbregas and some uncharacteristically bad decision-making ensured that the game remained close right until the final whistle. After Real Madrid claimed their first league win of the season earlier in the night with a 3-0 victory over Granada, it was important that Barcelona claimed all three points at the Camp Nou, and in doing so they maintained their five-point lead over Los Blancos, not to mention top-spot headed into the international break.






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Tito Vilanova made three changes from Wednesday’s defeat against Real Madrid with Dani Alves restored to the starting line-up after missing the Clasico through injury, while Alex Song and Cesc Fàbregas moved into midfield, replacing Andrés Iniesta and Sergio Busquets. With Fernando Gago missing from the starting line-up, would Alex Song be able to make an impact on his first Barcelona start?

The match started slowly and Barcelona were almost made to regret their selection as Dani Alves started to limp shortly after kick-off, but fortunately the Brazilian was able to continue without any ill effects. In terms of chances though, the match took a while to really burst into life. Pedro and Alves both had early shots, but neither troubled Diego Alves into making anything more than a routine save. At the other end, Valencia created a half-chance for Roberto Soldado with a simple ball over the top, though the Spaniard couldn’t quite get his long-range effort on target.

Barcelona were growing into the game and around the fifteen minute mark they forced Alves into action yet again as Dani Alves’ cross was powerfully headed towards goal by none other than Lionel Messi. It was a good effort and a fabulous save from the Spaniard, but he could do nothing about Barcelona’s opener which came on 23 minutes from an unlikely source.

The Blaugrana had a corner after Messi’s shot was blocked by Adil Rami and taking it short, Messi assessed the situation and laid it off to Adriano, who was some 25-30 yards from goal. It didn’t matter. Adriano took a touch to settle himself; the contact was perfect and the ball arrowed into the top corner of Alves’ goal. What a way to take the lead, what a way to open your account for the season.

The goal was a clear boost to Barcelona’s confidence and they could have doubled their lead within a minute through Pedro who slid to get a shot away on the Valencia goal, but Alves made the save to deny Pedro his third goal of the season. Cesc Fàbregas could had got himself on the scoresheet minutes later, but his cute attempt a chip just curled wide of the far post. It was arguably the last clear-cut chance of the half, but Barcelona looked in complete control headed into the break.

Barcelona made one change at the break, replacing Dani Alves at the break with Jordi Alba, meaning that Adriano moved across to right-back as he did against Real Madrid on Wednesday. The official word on Alves was that he was withdrawn due to discomfort in his thigh, but one expects him to be fully recovered by the end of the international break, if not sooner.

Valencia started the half brightly, pressing Barcelona high up the field and forcing a couple of early corners, but neither amounted to anything and the Catalans soon got back into their stride. Alexis Sanchez was improving and created a gilt-edged chance for Cesc Fàbregas, but the former Arsenal man made a huge hash of the shot, sending his shot high into the stands behind Alves’ goal. Adriano continued to look bright despite his change of position but Barcelona were struggling to create many clear-cut chances and it nearly came back to haunt them as Victor Ruiz "scored" from a set-piece. However, the assistant referee (correctly) flagged for offside and the Blaugrana were let off the hook.

Andrés Iniesta replaced Cesc Fàbregas with a little under half-an-hour remaining, and despite the close scoreline, neither side created anything of note as time wore down. Messi looked for his first goal of the night, but kept on running into traffic and with under five minutes left Sergio Busquets came on for Alexis Sanchez as Barcelona looked to close out the match and secure all three points. Victor Valdés nearly made a mess of two crosses, but thankfully Barca managed to keep Los Che out and maintain their 100% record.

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