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Valencia CF 2-3 FC Barcelona, 2016 La Liga: Match Review

A recap of Barça’s visit to the Mestalla

Valencia CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

As Barcelona returned to La Liga after a massive victory against former coach Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City midweek, the visit to Mestalla had more than one sub plot as former academy player Montoya and new recruit Andre Gomes squared off against their former clubs.

With an electrifying atmosphere inside the stadium, Barcelona looked all geared up for a tough game. Aleix Vidal made a return to the squad albeit on the bench while Sergi Roberto returned from injury and Rakitic was rested. Mascherano and Digne replaced the injured Pique and Alba respectively.

As Barcelona kicked things off, it was apparent how this game would play out; a chaotic start ensued with Valencia using pace on the wings to counter while Barça attempted to build their attacks from the back, with systematic passing, patiently probing at the Valencian defense.

10 minutes into the game, neither team managed to threaten the opposition goal, despite play being fairly opportune; an open match looked to be on the cards.

Andres Iniesta was brought down by Perez and as the illusionist went down clutching his right knee, he immediately signaled to be replaced. Being forced into an unexpected sub, Luis Enrique picked Ivan Rakitic to replace the injured captain on the field in the first substitution of the game.

A yellow card followed for Garay as he brought down Luis Suarez on the left edge of the box.

19 minutes in, Lionel Messi took off on one of his insane runs just outside the box, as he turned around defenders to find Neymar’s bombarding run. However, the return pass was misplaced and the fleet of defenders surrounding Messi left little to chance.

22’ Barça’s persistent attacks forced the Valencian back-line into their own half and Messi scored a beauty, driving the ball into the bottom corner, from underneath a leaping Luis Suarez to make it 0-1. Arguing the presence of an offside Luis Suarez who blocked his view, Diego Alves wound up with a yellow as the official looked more than friendly with his carding policy.

A while later, Sergio Busquets received his own yellow, for tugging at Dani Parejo.

A dangerous run from Cancelo on the flank caused panic in Barça’s box as his cross teasingly drifts across Ter Stegen’s goal only to have no one to reach out to.

Barça began to gain control of the game, as half n hour into the game, the Blaugrana executed a great passing move in the final third only for Diego Alves to put Messi’s shot away, with stinging palms.

Shortly, Rodrigo would go down in the penalty box under pressure from Umtiti but the referee wasn’t impressed.

As the game progressed, the crowd continued to grow hostile, as Andre Gomes was on the receiving end of booing from his former fans. Gaya was replaced by Abdenour with 7 minutes left to the half time whistle.

A great opportunity presented itself for Suarez as he got put through on goal by Messi, but the Uruguayan took one touch too many and his shot did little to trouble the goal keeper. Another chance followed for the day-walker moments later, as Neymar set him through this time, but to no avail.

A wave of Valencian attacks at the end of half time forced Ter Stegen to spread out in front of Dani Parejo to prevent his shot after a quick move by Valencia in the final third.

An off target bicycle kick from Neymar ended the first half with Barça looking comfortable with a goal-advantage.

Valencia returned with renewed resolve at half time as they reinforced their original strategy of using wing play to force Barça to play in their own half.

50’ Barça switched to countering as Neymar took a shot through a mass of defenders only to be denied by Alves. Rakitic was quick to pounce on the rebound but his shot took off against the post.

53’ Munir El haddadi striked to make it level against his former employers. The young lad showed his respect as he refrained from celebrating but the damage had already been done - a brilliant strike as Munir was on the receiving end of a cross from Parejo and his shot rocketed past Ter Stegen with enough venom to take down a city.


56’ A lobbed ball from Nani found Rodrigo who put his shot to the far post and past Ter Stegen to give Valencia the lead in a span of 3 minutes.

60’ A furious strike from Luis Suarez got past Diego Alves, as it hit the bottom corner to bring Barça back into the game. Spread across from Rakitic’s shot, Diego Alves struggled to regain form as Suarez got onto the rebound to level the scores.


With another half hour left to the game, it seemed very likely that Barça would take the lead. However, Valencia were not ones to back out without a fight. Every wave of attack was followed with a response, as both teams continued to exploit each other with pace and a high press, that forced errors on both sides.

Chances followed as the game became aggressive, with both teams looking to break the deadlock for good and take 3 points away.

Both managers played their hands, as they introduced Santi Mina (Rodrigo) and Denis Suarez (Andre Gomes) into the game, hoping to give their teams the necessary edge.

Moments later, both captains would enter the referee’s book for separate fouls as Messi was carded for a late challenge on Abdenour and Perez was booked for a late challenge on Neymar.

As the game entered the final few minutes, Barcelona had established a steady possession of the ball, and it seemed like the Catalans could pull something special from their bag of tricks, and they did just that as Messi played some intricate one twos in the opposition box, before Luis Suarez was brought down and the referee pointed to the spot.

92’ A calm finish from Messi gave Barça a hard fought win in a highly entertaining game that kept the adrenaline high.

Despite some issues with crowd hostility, Barça will be happy to have gone home with all 3 points that push them back on the top of the table.

A difficult away win, against a determined team is crucial as Barça’s competitors will be quick to regain their advantages in what is shaping up to be a highly contested and exciting season.

A great game to end a great week for the Blaugrana.

Força Barça!

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