Valencia v Barca never fails to deliver does it?!
Always goals, always incident and always excitement. This edition was no different, and even though Los Che began with a five-man backline as others have before them this season, they weren’t as accomplished or au fait with the nuances of the system, and that eventually told.
Take nothing away from the blaugranes though. This was, in the main, a disciplined performance from back to front.
Paulista’s goal never should’ve stood as once again a VAR decision went against Barca, and Soler’s rocket just has to be applauded.
As does Lionel Messi’s performance.
Another man of the match showing from the captain who is going to drag this side kicking and screaming all the way to the last minute of the last game.
Call it Messi-dependence if you like, it doesn’t really matter. What we are actually seeing from the Argentinian is his ultra professionalism.
Against the backdrop of what happened before the start of the campaign, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Leo wasn’t going to be at it, but he’s always given his best in every game.
In some matches, such as Sunday night’s, he’s been more successful and more central to the plot than others, of course, though he can’t be accused of not trying - in any one of them.
When opponents put two, three or even four men on him, then we can’t expect miracles.
Against Valencia we saw a dogged and determined Messi. A Messi that was fighting for every ball, that was willingly getting involved in the dirty work despite being at risk of missing what is now the biggest game of the season next week against Atletico Madrid.
The only thing that he did badly all night was fluff his penalty, and the stroke of luck for him to fire home after the subsequent melee could be a potential turning point at this late stage.
The free-kick was just sensational, but also just typical of what we’ve come to expect. Carlos Soler’s piledriver took the edge off slightly, but the set-piece deserved to win any game.
Perhaps, more than any other season since he began playing in the first-team, Messi deserves the La Liga title.
Whether he and his team-mates get it is another question entirely, but with four games still to play, Barca are in with a shout.
If you’d have asked culers at the start of the season if they’d take that, you all know what the answer would’ve been.