Five observations from Barcelona's 1-1 draw with Valencia
Ezequiel Garay nodded the hosts ahead inside just two minutes, and Los Che had chances to move further ahead before Lionel Messi equalized for the Blaugrana in stunning fashion from 25 yards.
The stalemate means that Barcelona is now winless in four La Liga matches, as they failed to build momentum from their impressive 4-2 win over Tottenham in the Champions League.
Barcelona moved up to second place in the league, one point behind Sevilla who they face after the international break.
The pressure would begin to mount on Ernesto Valverde, as his side are struggling in their attempt to defend the League Title they won in convincing fashion last season.
Lionel Messi was once more the star of the show, while Valencia’s poor run of form continued, as the match provided excitement and intrigue for 90 minutes. Here are five observations from the stalemate at the Mestalla.
#5 Barcelona is still heavily reliant on Messi
Lionel Messi is arguably the greatest player in the history of the game. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that his team would be built around him, as the Argentine’s superior talent means that he can singlehandedly decide the outcome of matches on his own.
Barcelona has benefitted immensely from building the team around him, as the club has won a total of 32 titles since the 31-year-old wore their colours, including four Champions League titles and nine La Liga crowns.
It has been the same all these years, and as evidence shows so far, he will continue to be the difference maker. On Wednesday in the Champions League, Messi was the star of the show, as he took it upon himself to put Tottenham to the sword, contributing with a finely taken brace, as well as having a hand in the other two goals.
Against Valencia, Messi was once again Barcelona’s creative hub, in addition to being their chief attacking threat and scoring the equalizer. He dropped deep to try and influence proceedings living up to his status as one of the world’s premier playmakers, which has come to the fore ever since the departures of Xavi and Iniesta from the Barcelona midfield.
Lionel Messi is an all-time football great, and for as long as Barcelona continues to build around him, they would be successful if Messi steps up to the plate.
However, for all of his otherworldly abilities, Messi is still very much human, who is not immune from the odd underperformance or two. Every time this happens, Barcelona is bound to suffer as has been the case in the past Champions' Leagues, where Messi has strangely gone missing in the quarter-finals of the last three seasons, the result being that Barcelona has got knocked out at the same stage consecutively.