Barcelona saw their eight-game winning streak in La Liga come to an end on Saturday night in Spain as the leaders settled for a 2-2 draw against Valencia at Camp Nou. After the visitors got a two-goal lead early on, Barça made a furious comeback thanks to Lionel Messi and came close to winning it, but a point is all they could take from what was a crazy, entertaining 90 minutes.
The game started with an incredibly quick counter attack by Valencia that ended with a Denis Cheryshev shot hitting the post after Ter Stegen had to save a shot from Dani Parejo, so the visitors made it clear they were going to make things tough for Barça. The home team managed to control the ball and tried to find space inside the box, but the Valencia defense was very solid and didn’t allow any dangerous chances.
Then Valencia got the ball back after Dani Parejo dispossessed Lionel Messi, and another crazy counter attack started. This time Rodrigo was patient and waited for the right pass to appear, and he found Kevin Gameiro for an easy finish. Less than 10 minutes later, Sergi Roberto brought down Daniel Wass in the box, and Dani Parejo buried the penalty to double Valencia’s lead.
A nightmare 10-minute period for Barça made things extremely tough, and they needed a quick response to have a realistic chance to winning. They got a penalty five minutes before halftime when Nélson Semedo was brought down by Toni Lato, and Messi scored to give his team some hope.
The halftime whistle came to end a wild 45 minutes of goals, penalties and head injuries, and despite all the craziness Barça still had a chance to win if they defended and finished better.
Ernesto Valverde made a change at halftime, bringing on Jordi Alba to add more attacking intent at left-back. The plan worked as Barça had more width and showed a lot more intensity and pace with the ball, firing quick shots at goal and pressing as high as possible to get the ball back and continue attacking at all times. Valencia continued to be dangerous on the counter, and Rodrigo wasted two big chances to score a third for his team.
The missed chances cost the visitors as Lionel Messi came up with a goal out of nowhere and equalized with 30 minutes left in the game. Valencia did a great job of killing the pace of the game with tactical fouls and a bit of time-wasting, so Barça still had work to do with very little time to do it.
As hard as Barça tried, they just couldn’t create a chance to find the winning goal, and the final whistle came to end Barça’s eight-game winning streak. But considering the bad start and the strong recovery against a good side, the team deserves credit for the fight. If Real Betis take points off Atlético Madrid on Sunday, this not a bad result. At all.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo (Alba), Piqué, Vermaelen, Roberto; Aleñá (Arthur), Rakitic, Vidal; Messi, Suárez, Coutinho (Malcom)
Goals: Messi (39’, 64’)
Valencia: Neto; Piccini, Garay, Gabriel, Lato; Wass, Coquelin (Kondogbia), Parejo, Cheryshev; Rodrigo (Santi Mina), Gameiro (Torres)
Goals: Gameiro (24’), Parejo (32’)