Barcelona’s defending is proving costly
There were less than two minutes on the clock when Barcelona went behind yet again. They’ve now gone five games in all competitions without keeping a clean sheet.
Thomas Vermaelen was a surprise inclusion ahead of Clement Lenglet for this one, but he couldn’t clear Dani Parejo’s corner, neither could Pique, and Ezequiel Garay was left completely free to put it away.
Pique’s form is a particular concern and raises the question of who should replace him when he needs a rest?
It could have been worse too if Goncalo Guedes hadn’t gone off injured after 12 minutes. He was causing Barcelona all sorts of problems with his pace down the left flank.
Barcelona’s defence was a big part of their title win last season, but so far this term the team have leaked goals and improvement is needed or they will keep dropping points.
Valverde’s lack of substitutes frustrates
Barcelona had the majority of the ball against Valencia but toiled to break down an organised home team.
After their midweek exertions against Tottenham in the Champions League there were unsurprisingly some tired legs out there too but Valverde was reluctant to change his team.
Ousmane Dembele finally arrived with six minutes of normal time remaining and Rafinha came on in the 88th minute. It was a final throw of the dice from Valverde but neither player had enough time to make an impression.
Dembele has scored some important goals this season, and his pace could have proved useful against a Valencia team who were also in action in the Champions League in midweek.
Unpredictable start to La Liga season continues
Sunday’s draw means Barcelona have now gone four games without a win in La Liga, and their brilliant midweek win over Spurs in the Champions League has been quickly forgotten about.
The team have taken only three points from their last four La Liga outings, but they’re not the only club who are having an unexpected start to the season.
Sevilla are the new leaders after beating Celta Vigo 2-1, while Atletico and Real Madrid have both stuttered in the early weeks and sit third and fourth. Atleti are level on points with Barcelona, Los Blancos are a point further back.
And then there’s Espanyol and Alaves who are fifth and sixth, level on points with Real Madrid and ensuring just two points separate the top six sides in Spain.
International break comes at a good time for Barca
Domestic football now pauses for the international break and it comes at a good time for Barcelona ahead of some tough fixtures against Sevilla, Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
The club have a host of key players who will not be going away on international duty. Jordi Alba, Nelson Semedo, Clement Lenglet, Gerard Pique, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are not involved. Neither, obviously are injured duo Sergi Roberto and Samuel Umtiti.
Here’s what their schedule for the week looks like:
Barcelona will need their key players refreshing and firing when La Liga does resume. Sevilla are in good form and scoring plenty of goals in La Liga.
Messi’s the deadliest outside the box too
Another game and another brilliant goal from Lionel Messi. It’s become so usual now, so commonplace, it’s pretty much expected.
Fresh from his sublime performance against Spurs, he was at it again to level the scores for Barcelona.
The captain took the ball from Arthur, swapped passes iwth Luis Suarez and then drilled the ball past Neto from the outside of the box.
Something he’s done more than anyone else over the last decade.
1 - Lionel Messi has scored more goals from outside the box than any other player in the top five European leagues in the last 10 seasons (57). Sniper. pic.twitter.com/TIuprnznk5— OptaJose (@OptaJose) October 7, 2018
The goal was his third this week, his sixth in La Liga, and his 11th of the campaign and it’s only early October.