An away point at Mestalla is always welcome, but when it comes after so many gilt-edged chances are missed, then a 1-1 draw against Valencia is always going to feel like another defeat.
It doesn’t even keep Barcelona hanging on the coat tails of Real Madrid and Girona - and frankly that’s the best that could’ve been hoped for at this stage - because if both win again this weekend, against Villarreal and Alaves respectively, Barca will be seven points behind Los Blancos and nine behind their local rivals.
As a spectacle, a Valencia vs Barca game is always entertaining and this one was no different. However, there was a distinct lack of quality from the away side in terms of putting the ball in the back of the net, and that has to be Xavi’s continuing worry.
Barca always set their stall out as a club that get the basics right and layer their passing game and chance creation on top of that.
Unfortunately, some of the players couldn’t trap a bag of cement, and there were so many chances that went begging in the opening 45 because even the most experienced Barca star didn’t control the ball.
Were they able to have done so, arguably the visitors could’ve been at least a goal or two to the good before the break.
A relatively fluid attack was sorely missing the execution on the night until the brilliant move for the opening goal, gleefully gobbled up by Joao Felix.
The inventiveness of pass from Frenkie as well as the accuracy of cross from Raphinha meant that Joao Felix couldn’t miss. However, it was the one bright spot against the gloom, and that lack of chance conversion can easily be put into perspective with the following stat:
If the match wasn’t vintage Barca, neither was it the disarray of some games in the past few weeks - something culers have become accustomed and conditioned to.
There was a semblance of structure, balance and coherence to Barca’s positional play at times - something that’s been lacking from their collective game of late - though the lack of chance conversion compared to chance creation has to be a huge concern.
It was a reminder of just how poor the team are in front of goal at present though, and is perhaps why Xavi is so keen to bring Vitor Roque straight into the side.
It’s worth remembering too that this Barca side, like it or not, are not going to win every week and nor are they going to do it in style either.
An acceptance of the status quo, of where this group of players are at, will go a long way to adjusting expectations from those who pay their hard-earned.
Barca do remain a work in progress, but progress does need to be seen...