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Valencia vs Barcelona, La Liga: Final Score 1-1, Barça struggle again as awful game ends all square at Mestalla

A painful watch for us all

FBL-ESP-LIGA-VALENCIA-BARCELONA Photo by JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images

Barcelona will finish the weekend in third place in the La Liga table thanks to a 1-1 draw away to Valencia at Mestalla on Saturday night. The struggles continued for Xavi Hernández’s men as they had a hard time creating meaningful offense for most of the night, and despite taking the lead early in the second half they allowed the home team to come back and earn a point even though Los Che did very little to deserve anything from the game themselves. It was a painful watch, and it gave very little reason for hope if you’re a Barça fan as the team have now reached three games without a win or a quality performance.

FIRST HALF

The first 45 minutes were borderline unwatchable, with both teams showing very clearly why they’ve been struggling so much as of late. Chances were few and far between and mostly came as a result of mistakes by the other side, and the passing and movement looked completely devoid of any patterns or ideas.

The game was especially hard to watch from a Barça perspective as the Blaugrana displayed the same old issues when trying to attack a low block with slow, sideways, unimaginative passing and isolated wingers sending aimless crosses into the box for Valencia’s tall center-backs.

Barça’s best move of the whole half was a long, well-constructed passing sequence through the middle that ended with a shot by Pedri that went just over the bar, and Robert Lewandowski forced the best save out of Giorgi Mamardashvili with a spectacular-looking scorpion kick that went straight at the Valencia keeper.

The hosts had very little joy but did create the best chance of the game in the first minute when Roman Yaremchuk’s shot into the bottom corner was brilliantly stopped by Iñaki Peña, but that was Valencia’s only moment of true danger in the period.

At halftime the game was hard to watch and a goalless draw was an appropriate score, and Barça needed a whole lot of improvement to get the winning goal in the second half.

SECOND HALF

Barça finally started to show signs of life to start the final period, with quicker and more creative passing to move the ball between the lines. Valencia stayed in a low block but left space to be exploited on the counter when they went forward, and Ilkay Gündogan had a huge chance on the break after a pass from João Cancelo but his shot missed the target completely.

But 10 minutes in the Catalans found a breakthrough: Frenkie de Jong played a sensational pass over the top to find Raphinha all alone in the box, and the Brazilian gave João Félix a tap-in at the far post to put the away team in front.

Barça should have capitalized on the momentum and amped up the pressure on a reeling Valencia side, but the Blaugrana went back to their slow, uncreative passing and couldn’t create a real chance to double the lead.

And with 20 minutes to go they paid the price for their lack of aggression: the Blaugrana failed to properly clear a cross from the right wing and the ball fell to Hugo Guillamón, who had four defenders around him but was still allowed to dribble the ball at the edge of the box and curl a beautiful shot into the top corner to make the game all square again.

The game suddenly became wide-open as Valencia were boosted by the goal and sent bodies forward which allowed Barça to counter and create two monster opportunities to re-take the lead, but Ferran Torres and Raphinha each missed a one-on-one chance inside the six-yard box and the visitors couldn’t put themselves in front as we reached the final 10 minutes plus stoppage time.

Barça had the initiative in the dying seconds and tried to muster a real scoring chance at the death, but couldn’t do so and had to settle for a point when the final whistle came to end a pretty awful game of football at Mestalla.

A point at Valencia is never a bad thing per se, but the current circumstances make this a pretty depressing result considering how poorly both Barça and Valencia played and the fact the goal scored by the home team was pretty much gifted by the Blaugrana.

It’s a third straight game without a win, and there were zero signs of improvement in the performance. Xavi’s job continues to hang by a thread, and the coach gave very little reason to think he can turn this around.

Tough times indeed.


Valencia: Mamardashvili; Correia, Diakhaby, Mosquera, Vázquez (Yarek 81’); Pérez (Amallah 73’), Guillamón, Pepelu, López (Foulquier 81’); Duro (Marí 81’), Yaremchuk (Canós 62’)

Goal: Guillamón (70’)

Barcelona: Peña; Cancelo, Araujo, Kounde, Balde; Gündogan (Yamal 71’), De Jong, Pedri; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Félix (Ferran 73’)

Goal: Félix (55’)

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