LaLiga 2018-19, Barcelona 2-2 Valencia: 3 Things we learned from the match
Barcelona drew 2-2 with Valencia tonight in a crucial LaLiga match at the Camp Nou. Barca continues to lead the league table with 50 points from 22 matches and Valencia stay in the seventh place with 30 points from the same number of matches.
Valencia scored a couple of goals within the first 35 minutes of the match to stun the Barca supporters.
However, Barca pulled one back in the 39th minute through a Lionel Messi penalty and then equalized in the 64th minute through Messi again.
Messi’s genius rescued Barca yet again and earned a valuable point for them. However, Atletico Madrid, who are second on the LaLiga table, would still fancy their chances of winning the league.
Barca had 69% possession in the match and eight shots on goal against Valencia’s seven. However, Valencia played some nice counter-attacking football to come away with a vital away point.
We would now take a look at the 3 things we learned from tonight’s match:
#3 Barcelona’s defence looked sluggish
Barcelona started Gerard Pique and Thomas Vermaelen in tonight’s match, and both of them were found wanting in terms of speed and agility.
Pique and Vermaelen are 32 and 33 years old respectively and had a problem in dealing with the pace of younger forwards like Gameiro and Rodrigo.
Valencia should have scored in the 3rd minute itself, as one of their shots hit the post. However, Rodrigo’s brilliant solo run led to their first goal in the 24th minute.
One of the Valencia defenders won the ball from Messi and played it to Rodrigo, who made a brilliant 50-yard dash before passing it to Gameiro, who made no mistake in slotting the ball past Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.
Both Pique and Vermaelen found it very difficult to close Rodrigo down or mark Gameiro. Pique has become considerably slower with age and relies primarily on his anticipation only to stop the opposition forwards.
Moreover, he got injured in the first half, and it made things even more difficult for Barca. Vermaelen has played in only eight matches this season, and quite understandably, looked a bit rusty.
Sergio Busquets is also on the wrong side of 30, and had difficulties in providing adequate cover to the centre-backs.
Barcelona played Nelson Semedo and Sergi Roberto as their right and left backs respectively, but neither could convince with their defensive prowess. Both of them were quite comfortable making overlapping runs, and Semedo was actually behind most of Barca’s attacks in the first 15 minutes or so.
He also earned Barca the penalty in the first half that led to their first goal, but did not look very comfortable while defending.
Valencia’s second goal came from an attack through their left wing, as Semedo could not stop the cross from the flank and Roberto fouled Valencia's Daniel Wass inside the box, as the latter tried to head the ball in. Regular left-back Jordi Alba did not play yesterday, and Barca missed him sorely.