Valencia 2 – Barcelona 2

 

What a cracking game we just saw with so much to talk about.  A tactical war between the managers, a clear penalty not given, Soldado acting like a prat, a late red card, the ref not playing out the full 4 minutes of extra time (?!), fantastic individual performances on both sides, but mostly very entertaining and tense football.

We came out with a 2-2 draw, and even though it would be incorrect to say it’s 2 pts dropped, most of us will be feeling that way.  At the end of the first half it would have been fair to be 4-2 down but in that second half we really could have won it late on if not for an unacceptable miss from David Villa.

I guess the line up wasn’t as easy as a thought, with Pep throwing in his favorite “niñita” of all Keita.  The TV put it as the standard 4-3-3 with Puyol, Busquets, Masch, and Abi at the back, with Xavi, Keita, Cesc in the mid, and Alves upfront with Messi and Pedro.  But within the first minute of the game it was clear the actual tactic was 3-4-3 with Masch, Puyol, Abi ; Alves, Busquets, Xavi, Keita ; Cesc, Messi, Pedro.  Valencia defender Mathieu made a late fitness test and started, which concerned me cause he’s a solid footballer and always a threat.

We started the game slightly better, but you could say it was rather equal.  Valencia, well not really, made it 1-0 in the 12th min after Abidal showed some nerves in the box by poking it into his own net.  Masch was burnt on the right by my friend Mathieu, something that was a pattern throughout the half, crossed it in and for whatever reason Abi tried to clear and control it but scored.  It was a real shame cause Valdes was there to cover it quickly.

Pedro, our player of the half, scored just 1 min 49 seconds later finishing off a slick move he started.  Passing it into Cesc, Pedro immediately began running into space, our new star in number 4 did a lovely blind flick into Messi’s path, and the little maestro spotted Pedro and played him in past the defense.  1-1.

3 minutes later the referee showed why those of his ilk are always under such criticism when he made the most cowardly of decisions by not giving us the most glaringly obvious penalty you will come across.  Messi drew in the shaky Rami on the left, showed him the ball, the Frenchman took the bait and put in a ridiculously clumsy tackle that clearly took Messi down. Sending Rami off, as he would have been forced to do, and give a penalty in a very hostile stadium was too much for Señor Carballo.  I will however add he had a super game otherwise, letting it flow, letting fair physical play happen, giving good advantage, and not falling for a lot of the simulation.

Valencia retook the lead in the 22nd minute again with a devastating attack down the left where Masch was having a torrid time.  Still, how can we blame him?  He’s outdone all our expectations at centerback but why slot him on the right against a very tricky Alba and Mathieu.  (When he returned to the middle in the second half he showed us why we rate him so highly.)  Pep should have brought Alves back.  Matheiu again crossed it, Abidal missed the clearance, and Hernandez had the goal at his mercy and took no prisoners.  2-1.

Credit to Valencia, they earned that half time lead and if not for Keita and Soldado it could have been worse.  On both occasions attacks on the left flank left Mascherano for dead and once in the 25th minute Keita got back to break it up and then in the 41st Soldado missed such an easy goal.

We only really had one more chance in the dying minute when Alves was put through and should have just crossed it into a crowded area with Cesc and Pedro, but tried to be cute and we lost the momentum.

Pep went back to the 4-3-3 immediately after the break after Emery’s very crafty use of both Alba and Mathieu as interchanging defenders/midfielders.  Whether Emery predicted the 3-4-3 from Pep or adjusted to it very quickly, well done sir, because that just killed us.  Pep had to go to 4 at the back, and in my mind should have done so after the 2nd or 3rd time Masch was left for dead.  That left side was so dangerous that Alves did not dare go forward in the 2nd half, but then credit to Pep for utilizing Adriano to fill that role, and despite a few poor passes, Adriano did his job creating space and danger.

In the 57th minute Pep made 2 changes, one I think everyone saw needed to happen as with a 4-3-3 Keita became redundant and we wanted an extra attacker on.  Keita did go out for Adriano, and Villa also came in for Pedro, though I have no idea why and it proved costly.

Guardiola then went for the win with a ballsy move of brining in Thiago, who had another very controlled game, for Puyol in the 63rd minute.

Soldado had a good chance earlier on that Alves blocked, and then Masch banged the crossbar after wondering stealing it off an opponent, running 20 meters, and letting rip.  That was the 67th minute.

Now Messi was not having his best day by any means.  His dribbles weren’t coming off, his final ball lacked that purpose and zip we are spoilt to have so regularly, and he blew the chance to take tie it up in the 75th minute after Xavi played him clear on goal.  Rami did well to get back and make enough physical contact to put Messi off, but on a sharp day that was 2-2 every time.

Up until this point, truthfully, I felt we had an equalizer coming.  But when he missed I lost some conviction, thankfully, just 1 minute later Messi atoned for his error by connecting again with Cesc who scores his 4th in 4 games, the first ever Barça player to do so in his first 4 appearances.  Messi came deep again, watched Cesc peel off the defense, lifted it over, and then Fab was really cool in taking it down and placing it around Guaita.  2-2.

We really came on after that, Cesc in particular.  He was darting into space, hustling our opponents, making tackles, just really top effort stuff.  We pressed their goal hard and I really thought an opening would happen.

And it did, but the very unimpressive Villa missed the most golden of chances.  Now, previous to this I was ripping my hair out with Villa.  Not only are his touches poor this season, but his tactic play is nonsensical.  He simply refuses to leave that left touch line, as if the sky would fall down if he did.  Too many times Messi drops deep, we are pushing forward and then no one is in the box but Villa is standing on the left not creating any danger.  He needs to start taking a chance and moving in the middle and if the attack fails, fine, return to the left.  But this obsessive hugging of the wing isn’t intelligent and he’s better than that.

In this specific miss, I find it unacceptable.  We bought him because his caliber means he finishes those chances 10/10 times.  Messi held the ball in the box, had 4 defenders swarm around him, but genius saw the space for Villa, put a perfectly weighted ball into an area barely 5 meters from goal, and then David did everything right except the finish.  Yes the save was good, but a striker of his status does not lift the ball in that scenario, you keep it low and across the keeper, giving him no chance whatsoever of a save.  Not impressive stuff.

A minute later Adriano got down the right, played it right across goal, but no one was there to touch it that 50 centimeters it needed to get home.

Barça pushed on but time just ran out, though not sure by only 3:30 of 4 minutes was played, especially since Alba was given a red card and wasted a good 60 seconds complaining.

So another 2-2, but our best 2-2.  Yes we could have won in that second half, and with Madrid’s pathetic 0-0 earlier it would have been such a bonus, but in the first the experimental 3-4-3 got ripped apart.  Pep may get some people blaming him, but let’s not, he’s earned it.  He at least corrected it 2nd half, yes should have done so during the 1st, and the rest of his subs showed astute thinking.  Well done to Emery and his team for a great performance, without parking the bus or being overly physical, that showed an ability to keep the ball, dictate play, counter attack brilliantly, and defend well.  The sooner we get Pique back the better cause we have looked shaky, but all things considered 2-2 in our 3rd hardest league game of the season against a really good Valencia isn’t a failure.

 

 

 

 

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37 Responses to Valencia 2 – Barcelona 2

  1. Hilal says:

    What an amazing game. Two team league my ass. Valencia were fantastic tonight, hats off to them. We could and should have knicked it in the end but in this game sometimes things dont go your way. On another day Messi would have got the clear pen on him, abidal wouldnt have scored an own goal, Villa would have scored the best chance we had, Messi would have finished his one on one and we would have won the game comfortably. It really is a game of inches.

    The pen not given against Messi early on in the game was ridiculous though. It was such an obvious call, not even close really and the player was already on a yellow. That probably would have been 2-1 against 10 men with most of the game left. Would have been game over. Oh well, sometimes you just have those nights I guess, at least Madrid look like they are imploding. Would love to see them go to Valencia and try to get a result. I just hope Valencia continue to play like this all season, would be great to see them challenge for the title!

  2. Hilal says:

    Oh yeah and Ever Benega is f’ng class!! IF Madrid were smart, and thank god they aren’t, they would have bought this guy already.

  3. Hilal says:

    One more last thing… Villa is really starting to get on my tit. What is it with strikers in our system? We should just not bother anymore and stick to mids/wingers who score. He better watch out because at this rate he is gonna find himself warming the bench. How I wish we had Sanchez to bring on tonight. I really think he could have had an impact, certainly more than Villa, who managed to kill pretty much every single attack that went his way and miss the best chance we had. He can learn a thing or two about finishing from Mr Fabregas.

  4. FC Barcelona Rocks!! says:

    Valencia had a gr8 1st half. Gr8 tactics in that half i must say. Barcelona were forced wide in many an occassion. They totally killed us on that left flank in the first half.

    However when Barca got their stride on with a slight change in tactics , especially when Dani Alves got back to being an attacking rightback and the introduction of Adriano and Thiago, Barsa started being Basa again !!

    In a really gr8 match, i have to say that the refereeing was pretty damn poor. I would have loved to see Barsa snatch the victory late in the game where they had many a chance, but that’s football people. Valencia were every bit worth that 1 point.

  5. Payman says:

    Lets not be Mourinho-esque guys. Valencia played a great tactical match and it shows the genius of their coach Unai Emery. Lets give them some credit. Remember that Soldado missed a howler in the first half: an open net sure goal. I think in some ways we were fortunate to get the point. Madrid would have lost 3 or 4-0 tonight with the way Valencia played. Two horse race my a$$ …… oh yes lets not forget that Madrid dropped points to lowly Racing today LOLOLOL

  6. Noureddine says:

    Great game that we shouldve clinched at the end of this epic battle, there’s much to say but I’ll just sum it up by saying Abidal fucked us up big time tonight, and I would love to see CAVANI carrying number 7 next season instead of our so called striker Villa.

  7. FC Barcelona Rocks!! says:

    @ Hilal. David Villa is often played out of position. And our current system always allows Fabregas and Messi to interchange the ‘False Number 9 role’ which also unfortunately leaves David Villa with very less minutes in the central position / striker role that he prefers. David Villa is basically been forced to become a 2 nd ‘Pedro’ on that left channel.

    Many a fan are quickly putting that boot on Villa’s face at the moment which i find rather harsh. Villa is not doing that bad if you pay close attention. Just that, as a striker, you always wanna score, and for a striker like David Villa who is been played on that left wing, sometimes he might tend to get uneasy / nervous/ anxious to break that scoring duck all the time whenever he can sneak into a central position.

    Many quickly and almost conveniently forgot the goals he scored in the 5-0 drubbing of Madrid (where he was allowed to switch roles from left channel to central striker more often), the Champions League Final and The Spanish Super Cup to name a few big occasions.

    The inclusion of Fabregas into our current system 3-4-3 has been remarkable in terms of goals and assist, but i have to say, that in a way or two, it has also put a limit towards David Villa’s scoring and passing range (David is a better passer then a crosser) as Villa is given lesser opportunities to switch into a central position.

    David Villa is Spains all time record goalscorer and has performed very2 well for us in many big occasions. It is fair to say that Villa’s reputation for Spain is way bigger then that of Fabregas. If we cannot respect ‘EL Guaje’ and give him more time , if we cannot appreciate the contribution he has made to us and Spain, what good are us FC Barcelona fans in any sporting grounds?

  8. FC Barcelona Rocks!! says:

    @ Hilal again…..i know that you probably wrote that piece in a very emotional state of mind.

    But when you say you would prefer Alexis Sanchez over David Villa who played as a sub on the left Wing last night, you really ticked me off!! I feel really embarrassed sharing FC Barcelona with fans who conveniently forget contributions of a player like David Villa in the face of one of the stiffest competitions with Mourinho and Madrid.

    As a fan of FC Barcelona we are sometimes spoilt brats with an overdose of super football every damn week . But we also need to learn how to respect others. Pls take a few minutes to rethink some things before ‘stabbing our own heroes’ on our own blog !!!!

    David Villa , you have my support. If ever Pep gives you more chances to occupy that central role you should grab the opportunity and kill these doubters off once and for all. Bang the f#ckin goals in like nobody’s business and show em what you’re made off.

    David Villa is not getting half the respect that Chicharito is getting in Man United despite being twice better then the United Super Star!!

  9. layibiyi says:

    this was a real tactical war….and i’m surprised pep didnt get up to it quick enough. like zonalmarking.net points out, emery has used this 2-solid-attcaking-left-backs-vs-alves formation against us about 4 times in a row now and he keeps getting closer. His only problem has just been messi (which is normal). Other teams have tried it but valencia are better with their 1-2s. Our transition and cover was really messed up in that area especially as xavi was the closest to alves.

    A lot to talk about like you said but my morale is low. Mainly because i wanted us to take advantage of madrid’s slip up further so more pressure can be heaped on madrid n mourinho.

    kudos to emery, he has really proven himself. I like their 2 new center backs. they just need to show more quality in the champions league as well.

  10. FC Barcelona Rocks!! says:

  11. FC Barcelona Rocks!! says:

    @Blaugranaboy do take note that Villa never likes to stay on that left flank hugging it in that sort of manner. This is clearly the manager’s instruction for him to do so. And also in the 75th minute it was Thiago who played Messi through and not Xavi. Also we didn’t exactly change the formation early in the 2nd half, infact we tweaked by placing Dani back into his prefered RB position while on the other end of the park we had Abidal move to a more attacking LWB come LM position.

    Our lack of usual control and passing flow could also be more about Mascherano, Keita and Busquets playing together than anything else. All three of these lads don’t have that passing ability and control in comparisons to Fabregas, Xavi, Iniesta and the up and the up and coming Thiago. As soon as Thiago was introduced Barcelona started to look more like the team we are used to seeing.

    Only somewhere around the timing of Thiago’s introduction did we revert to our title winning 4-3-3 for abit. The 3-4-3 will be not be my preferred formation against big/strong opponents such as Valencia, Milan and others especially when Pique is not available at the back for selection. It seems to me that this 3-4-3 is more about making way for Fabregas to make the pitch rather than anything else! With Fabregas sharing the central space upfront switching between himself and Messi makes it totally no room for Villa to bud in every now and then. Villa being played out of his prefered position 80-90 % of the time is not worthy of the stick he is getting in here surely.

  12. FC Barcelona Rocks!! says:

    About the dying minutes failure to score by David Villa. Did you realize that it was more a less a 30-70 chance of scoring? Villa reacted quickly to get to the ball, but at the same time the goalkeeper was quick as well. And there were also a truck load of Valencia players really closeby. The angle itself was pretty tight.

    By all means i don’t think Ronaldinho, Messi or even Pele will have the guts to proclaim that they will score that goal by 100% a chance if given to them.

    Abidal, Mascherano, Keita and Busquets had a pretty mediocre game as well. Messi missed a clearcut 1 v1. Why izzit Villa gets the biggest stick? Because of the sum we paid for him? Well atleast he contributed when it mattered the most didnt he? To me that money we paid for him is every bit paid back to us by his contributions last season. When a player like Villa is not at his best, we as fans should get behind him and show some support. We should be the first to lift his spirits instead of throwing him further below.

    I am sure Nic will agree with me that as a writer, we should write more responsibly. What if Villa or his family members are reading this?

    Sorry Blaugranaboy. Although i understand your frustrations in regards of Barsa not getting the three points at the Mestalla, your harsh criticism of David Villa is not justified. As a writer, you need that tiny blend of responsibility, judgement, and leadership. You should set a better example. Villa is Spains alltime top scorer and has contributed a significant amount of goals in his first season for Barsa. He deserves everybit his place in the best club in the world, FC BARCELONA!!!!

  13. layibiyi says:

    take it easy ‘@FC Barcelona Rocks’….I’m sure you have been following up this blog for a while so you should know blaugranaboy didn’t mean to sound that deep about villa being a cast-off. You are right in some aspects of writing ethics but your heavy rants makes it seem deeper than that. Besides, we are more like a family here, evidenced by the fact that writers occasionally give their opinions and write some things in the heat of the moment, things they would not have written in a professional sense. Everybody is welcome to disagree. That’s what makes the blog what it is.

    About villa himself, he gets on my nerves at times, but i’m sure he’s trying his best despite not playing in his favourite position. I don’t think anybody in our team would intentionally not give his all.

  14. blaugranaboy says:

    Thanks for the backup layibi. Lol

    BarcaRocks, take a breath my man. It’s great to have a new person here, and stick with us, but as you have never written before, maybe only read a few weeks, you cannot make absolute calls on people saying this and that. No one here is throwing Villa under the bus, we aren’t disrespecting him. I was massively excited when we signed him, and feel proud he is part of our team. Hilal was too. We both had wanted him originally when Etoo was pushed out.

    I do think you are overdoing it a bit. Just because a player is on your team doesnt mean you have to support him blindly. Thats nonsense and helps no one. And dude, we arent booing him in the stadium or anything, thats when fans cross a line. But what you discuss with friends, etc isnt not supporting. Please dont say your one of this people that believe a bad word can never be said about a player? He can be put under some criticism just like anyone else. And the fact is he isn’t playing at a high level, the level we expect of him because we’ve seen him do it. Even his passing and shooting is looking below par this year, you cant dispute that.
    I will promise you that if you ask Villa if he is happy with his play right now, he’d say no. Remember how frustrated with himself we he was last year? It was written all over his face. Last year I was in fact massively in his corner, despite local media even poking fun at his finishing issues, because despite missing quite a few chances I’d expect him to finish, he was doing lots of other positive things, amazing things in fact. His passing and vision last season surprised me massively and during his slump I kept saying “don’t worry class is permanent”, and I’d be annoyed when he was subbed cause I wanted to see him given the chance to break through it. So rest assured, I want Villa in our team, but I think he can improve and I’m sure he’d agree.

    I don’t agree on the left wing thing though. Obviously Pep is asking him to take that side, but it doesnt mean he has to obsessively stay there every single moment. Our system asks for and allows players to use their brain to best position themselves and I’m sure Villa would be allowed to venture into the middle during some of our attacks. Keeping position and structure is important, but at Barca you can use your own footballling IQ to move if it help the team and if the moment calls for it. Too often the team is pushing forward from through the middle and instead of trying to cut behind the defence he is sitting there on the right not creating danger at all. I know he’s frustrated on that left role, but he can use his own judgement once in a while. That’s all I’m saying.
    And I wont budge on the final chance. Thats cake for a striker you obviously hold so highly, as do I. The only reason I criticized it so hard is because Villa is an elite forward, worldclass finishers, Spanish record holder, etc and I expect more from him than other forwards, in or out of Barca. He anticipated that ball, had no defenders near by, and just didnt keep it low. He has to finish that. No one is calling for a replacement or berating him for being useless. I’m just saying David boy, you gotta stick that chance in.
    I don’t think I gave him stick and never pointed to him or that miss for being the reason for the draw, I was looking at that one attempted finish in isolation. I didn’t mean it to come across when I said “if not for an unacceptable miss” that he was the reason for the draw. It was more, he missed a chance which I do deem easy for his calibre and that would have put us 3-2 up, not he is the reason we didnt win. If you get my meaning. Neither did I play the blame game on the less than great games from Alves, Abi, Busquets, and Keita. I was clear on attributing the draw more to our opponent than anything, which I totally believe. So no need to get so concerned for Villa or his family, I’m 100% sure they arent reading this and I’m 100% sure Villa is still kicking himself for not finishing a chance he would expect himself to.

  15. Hilal says:

    Haha. Wooow. Somebody REALLY likes David Villa 😉

    I am not gona argue too much with you because everyone has the right to their opinion, but David Villa has not been scoring goals that he should be scoring, its as simple as that. Not just in this game but the last 6-8 months. Lets not forget he went for a stretch of about 14 games last season without scoring a single goal and its not like he didnt have the chances (the longest in his career). That is not to say he doesnt work his ass off, run for the team and try his best. I am not questioning his commitment to the team or his effort, but we bought him to score goals not to faff about on the wing and miss chances he should be burrying in his sleep. If this miss was a rare occurence I wouldnt give a crap tbh, strikers miss chances, it is just the way it is, but Villa has been missing waaaaay too many of these chances. That is just a fact. Those who know me on this blog will know that I am more than happy to be patient with strikers. I was patient with Ibra and I was patient with Villa last season, but there is a point at which a player has to start living up to his potential. Villa is paid to score goals. Tatical nuances aside.

    When I said Sanchez would have had more of an impact it had nothing to do with Villa and his lack of form. I would have said the same thing even if Villa was on top form. Sanchez brings a completely different skill set to the table; he is fast, aggressive and direct, all attributes that would have wreaked havock on the tired legs of Valencia defenders. Its not really a dig at Villa, who has his own attributes, but in this game and under these circumstances Sanchez would have had more of an impact, which is exactly why we tried so hard to get him. Shame he is injured.

    Also please dont act like Villa is some Barca legend that has done soo much for the team and should never be critisized. He is no Samuel Eto. He has had one semi-decent season in which he missed plenty of chances he should haved scored.

    Oh and if you knew anything about Blaugranaboy you would know how much he loves Villa and how excited he was when he joined and how patient he has been with El Guaje. Like any good fan he calls players out when they deserve it and he gives them credit when it is due.

  16. layibiyi says:

    @hilal, aren’t all first team members of this ‘dream team’ legends….think of how we’ll be referring to them in the future:
    ‘on the left, they had david villa, spanish all time record scorer who scored 50goals in 2 seasons on the way to 2 champs league and 2 leagues’ (just a prediction, lol)

    sounds legendary 🙂

  17. Hilal says:

    “He anticipated that ball, had no defenders near by, and just didnt keep it low. He has to finish that. No one is calling for a replacement or berating him for being useless. I’m just saying David boy, you gotta stick that chance in.”

    Exactly. Couldn’t have said it better myself Blau!

    It is because we know he is so good that we expect better of him.

    I definitely dont blame him for the draw though, want to make that clear. Messi missed a chance too that he should have taken, i certainly dont blame him. We win and lose as a team. That is what makes us the magnificent team that we are.

  18. FC Barcelona Rocks!! says:

    I don’t mean to be another TTMD or anything =D i know you guys meant well, but i still feel that there is a little script to what Villa is doing at the moment though i hope its just me. I have a hunch that Villa isn’t given much freedom and is forced to do certain things down that left flank. I hope things get better for Villa. But most importantly i hope Barsa will do just as well as last season or perhaps better.

    Three cheers to Hilal, Layi and Blaugrana. I’m sorry for the rants earlier, I was surely very3 emo about the whole Villa thing earlier on. My apologies. I have hope that Pep will sort our very few flaws out real soon.

    Visca Barsa !

    • laoahpeh says:

      If there is anything Villa done wrong… it’s the hair… i think it makes him look lethargic…

    • Hilal says:

      No problemo, we all get emotional at times 😉

      I can certainly understand your desire to jump to the defense of David Villa, I did the same thing for Ibra in his season with us. At the end of the day Villa is a Barca player and we all want him to do well and score plenty of goals. We all know that he is an amazing player who can and will contribute hugely to our team.

      P.S The hair is unforgivable though

  19. layibiyi says:

    nice, u know TETMD, you are definitely an old-timer….

    speaking of which, where’s TETMD now….probably at manchester city i guess with yaya toure, miss that cule especially since we won the champions league without yaya toure

  20. barcacentralnic says:

    Hi guys, here I am in an internet cafe in Edinburgh so I haven’t really got time really to read everything and respond. I see there3 is some debater on Villa and it has been a while now that he has been getting criticism. Wile it is true he was bought for his finishing I think it is a bit unfair to blame himj for his “miss”, when in fact it was an excellent save from the keeper. These one-on-ones are never as simple as they seem and if wew look back we would remember some of the misses of great finishers such as Samuel Eto’o who also missed his share of golden opportrunities. Anyway, I don’t want to go on about Villa, for me the most interesting question is the back three. At home against Villarreal and Osasuna it worked a treat, but in more difficult away games I think it may be just a touch too risky. When Puyol moved across to cover Mascherano it left only Abidal in the middle and he was outnumbered on a couple of occasions which left us looking a mess in the first half. At least pep knew to rectify but I am worried by a couple of his decisions this season. I suppose he needs to try new things to keep that one step ahead of the opposition, however, when it doesn’t work, it could prove to be costly.

    • FC Barcelona Rocks!! says:

      I am equally worried about the 3-4-3 formation Nic. 3 guys at the back without Pique being one of em makes me worried sick. We had neither superior strength or good speed at the back. Things get worst especially when we are not controlling that midfield domination of possession well above 60 % . I still prefer our 4-3-3 alot more.

      Dani is much more effective being on his RB position in many ways. His presence at the back thou minimal when we are in ‘domination mode’ brings some sort of stability at the back for Barsa.

      A BACK THREE MAKES ME PANIC EVEN BEFORE THE GAME STARTS.

  21. Fredegar says:

    Well, my two pennies guess on Villa then: I also find you a bit harsh BBoy, and the others agreeing with you. The miss was far from awful in my opinion, he received the ball with the keeper just in front of him, who made a great save, it was a difficult chance and for me there was no shame in missing it. About the left wing position, please take the time to note that it’s this position that allowed Fantastic Fab the space he needed to score our second. And he apparently had enough of intelligence to leave this left spot to put himself in the postion to miss this last chance. And I agree that it’s on Pep’s instructions that he stays there, it was clear from the start that Pep wanted a lot of width with Alves stuck on the line and Pedro playing very wide too.
    Villa has already scored plenty of goals this year and I think he has put his terrible spell of last year behind him. He might not be at his best, but is still working a lot, creating space for others while scoring his fair share of goals, so I wouldn’t rush to condemn him. I’m not totally happy with him either, but as long as he makes what is asked of him without complaining a notch while still contributing in the stats, I won’t criticise him.
    So much to say about this game, I’ll try to come back later cos’ you wouldn’t believe it, but I’ve got work to do… Such a shame…

  22. Fredegar says:

    Ok, back I am!
    What a fantastic game of football, you’re never disappointed by a Valencia-Barça! First of all, congrats to the Valencia team, they gave us a hell of a 60 mins and could have been deservedly leading by two or three goals at this point in the game, in which case we would probably have looked at a defeat rather than a draw. They gave their all, played with a lot of agression (not Madrid-like agression!), attacked in numbers and dominated us in a way I have not seen since Pep took the lead, so well done for their point.
    While we could have (undeservedly IMO) snatched it at the end, I will always be glad with a draw in the Mestalla, and this doesn’t make exception, particularly in the light of another tame draw from Madrid, and particularly as we got it after having faced defeat in the face. The attitude of the team must once again be commanded, and the last thirty mins were a joy after the suffering of the first sixty.
    I’m not sure the problem is three at the back, more who are the three, how they are positioned and how the rest of the team is shaped. Here we started the game with something like a 3-3-4-0. Under pressure from Valencia, Xavi, Busquets and Sergi, who were intended as a strong midfield to compete against the pressing from Los Che I imagine, played all three very very deep. They had no real outlet in front of them wich led to a lot of lost possession in dangerous areas. As Pedro and Alves were further forward than Messi, they couldn’t properly cover our wings, and it’s where the back three became exposed in a number of occasions. Still it was clear that these three in particular didn’t work very well together, but maybe it’s just a question of adaptation, after all Puyol just came back and must not have had too many time to adapt…
    But really, for me the problem was not the three, it was the general shape, and Pep got it right second time with Thiago in the place of Keita, Alves in the place of Masch and Masch in the center. Sure Valencia were tired at this moment, but I think our main problem at the start was that Busquets and Keita in particular both played in the same area leaving too much of the rest of the pitch empty, so Thiago provided an outlet a bit higher up and we found our flow again.
    A point about Alves: I don’t like much to see him used as a winger. Much of his value resides in the fact that he is both a fantastic defender and a constant threat on his flank, like two players in one, but if you lose one of these two players and the better one at that, you’re left with a winger that I wouldn’t call average cos’ that would be insulting, but I wouldn’t call him world class either. As a winger, we have better alternatives as was proved by Adriano, and I wonder why Guardiola didn’t consider Affelay for this position, I think it’s exactly where he would be at his most effective. And finally, losing Alves in the defense is a burden, he showed in the last 30 mins that he can perfectly play in the three man defense with a very strong and disciplined end of game for him.
    And a final word of admiration for Guardiola: he got it plainly wrong at the start but, while many have said that he is stubborn with his substitutions, he wasn’t afraid to go back to 433 at the start of the second half and come back to 343 15 minutes later, while changing all his personal before the 65th minute. The end of the game is as much a testimony to Valencia’s efforts in the first part of the game than to his adaptabilty, reactivity and capacity to change a game!

    • layibiyi says:

      but emery has always focused on attacking our right hand side even when we played 4 defenders against him(even with 4 defenders, alves goes forward a lot). So valencia were only bound to be more successful down that side when we switched it to 3 defenders. If you check the highlights of the 2 games against valencia last season, they created the same type of chances as they did yesterday (pablo’s miss at the camp nou from the exact same position he scored yesterday should stick out). 343 is not bad but we are all aware there are a lot of factors involved. The fact that emery is ahead of our other opponents in exploiting us made it even seem worse.

      yeah, pep deserves credit for switching it up but i would have preferred he worked more on the 343 against other teams before we try it against one of the top exploiters of our system. We might still not have won but it would be more familiar at least and we would have a balanced game over both halves.

      whats this i’m hearing about afellay being out for about 8 months….thats really really deep

      • FC Barcelona Rocks!! says:

        Damn it. I feel really sorry for Afellay. He hasn’t really had the chance to show us much since his arrival. Really unlucky. I Pray for his speedy recovery alongside Iniesta and Sanchez.

        We are hit pretty bad with injuries early in the season. Lucky we haven’t got too many tough matches ahead. We need this guys to recover quickly. Hopefully the medical staff does a great job on the boys. The squad is pretty thin especially if you look at the cover we have on the wings. Adriano will have to be really sharp and focused. Its his glorious chance to shine now !!

  23. blaugranaboy says:

    really good to have debate back guys

  24. Noureddine says:

    Well, now this is more like a real blog, it’s ok to disagree as everyone is entitled to his opinion, but we should keep it in a respective manner.

  25. lee says:

    Wow, was great comments after a great game. I had a different take on game, one that might be too Mourinho in its paranoia. The Spanish League started season with terrible PR about being a two team league; suddenly those two teams are struggling. Messi had fouled in the box twice if not three times: no call. Game got whistled before the 4 minute added time even though a red card was given in added time (huh?). I wish there was some way to wonder out loud about this without taking anything away from Valencia–they played great–but Messi should have gotten two PK’s. That aside, he still had an amazing game. Such a versatile player.

    I hate Villa until I love him. He’s that type of player.

  26. FCBarca88 says:

    The tie was fair for both teams. Regarding Villa, I think he is definitely trying his best but Pep wants him on the left side, so he just stays there. Villa isn’t given the same freedom as Messi. So because Villa keeps getting the ball on the left side, it’s getting almost predictable what he’ll do each time. The same situation with Pedro, I think they are both struggling right now but they’ll start playing better soon. We definitely need Alexis and Iniesta back fast though especially with Affelay out for probably the rest of the season.

    I’m mostly worried about the defense now. Valencia scored 2 goals, but it should have been more. Even against Sociedad and Osasuna, we had trouble in defense. Osasuna went forward like three times all game long, but they had good chances, we can’t let teams get to goal so easily. I’m really worried this might hurt us later on in the season in more important games. They really need to start defending better.

    Also, I think that Adriano is just amazing. When he came on as a sub, he was so good going forward. When he crosses the ball in the middle of the box, there needs to be someone inside, we never ever have players inside the box, that needs to change.

  27. Fredegar says:

    About Pep playing the 3-4-3 too soon against too good an opponent: I might be too fond of him, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he intended it exactly as an acid test, it was the perfect occasion to see if it can work in the most hostile atmosphere you will find and where there is still work to be done to ameliorate it. After all, losing this game wouldn’t have been the end of the world. I’m probably pushing my desires for Pep’s sainthood a bit too far here, but who knows?
    A real shame for Affelay, now it will be very difficult for him to make it in this team, I’m really disappointed for him and for what he could have brought us… Get well soon Ibi!

  28. layibiyi says:

    For the villa argument:

    “I am proud to be doing well and to be enjoying football from a position that was not my own until recently.

    “Pedro has helped me a lot. When I had doubts, I observed him. When I was a bit lost on the field, I would look to see what Pedro was doing on the other side and he would guide me.”

    Dude is really trying his best

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