Copa del Rey semi final 1st leg: Valencia CF 1 FC Barcelona 1

Barça and Valencia drew 1-1 tonight in Mestalla to go all square into next Wednesday’s second leg at Camp Nou. In the first half Valencia gave us plenty of problems and deservedly took the lead after 27 minutes through Jonas Gonçalves. As at the Santiago Bernabeu two weeks ago Carlos Puyol ghosted in at the far post to head home from a corner to level the scores. Barça could easily have won it in the second half but Leo Messi had a penalty saved by Diego Alves, and Dani Alves was denied a goal by the far post.

The game was played at a very high pace from the beginning with both teams pressing up and causing the other defence difficulties on the ball. In the 6th minute Cuenca chased back to win the ball for Messi who was then fouled on the edge of the area. Messi tried to curl the ball inside the post with his free kick but didn’t quite get enough curl. At the other end Busquets was robbed leading to the first danger in our area and both Gerard Piqué and Carles Puyol, playing at right back in place of the benched Dani Alves, had some early nervous moments. However, Valencia again showed similar problems at the back allowing Messi to rob the ball but after getting to the edge of the area his shot hit a defender.

With no Xavi or Iniesta, the midfield of Thiago and Cesc failed to take control of things. Valencia looked for the early ball behind our defence and in the 18th minute Miguel sent a through ball for Soldado to chase with Piqué. Pinto who wore the name “Colorado” on his shirt in homage to his grandfather who died recently, came running out of his goal and managed to get his hand to the ball, but replays showed he was marginally outside the area when he touched the ball and he could have had no complaints if the referee had shown him a red card. Fortunately the moment was very fast and it was certainly not easy for either the linesman or the ref to see it.

Soldado hooked a volley over from a corner as we looked more and more on the back foot. Despite Puyol playting at right back we still struggled to control Jordi Alba and Mathieu. In the 27th minute three quick passes opened spàce for Mathieu on the left as Puyol was caught out of position. Piqué had to leave Jonas to come across to cover, Puyol then failed to cut out Mathieu’s centre and Jonas was on his own to shoot high past Pinto into the roof of the net.

Barça tried to react but Messi pulled his shot five yards wide. Then in the 34th minute Cuenca made a brilliant Messiesque run before slipping a great ball into Alexis who might have done better but Diego Alves saved. From the resulting corner Fabregas swung the ball to the far post, Diego Alves came for the ball and got stuck in no man’s land, Victor Ruiz failed to spot Puyol who rose majestically to head into an empty net. It was a gift but it seemed to take the wind out of Valencia’s sail and we hardly suffered at all after the equalizer.

Alexis had the ball in the net at the start of the second half but he was correctly called just offside. Valencia’s pressing was not the same now and we began to find spaces though unfortunately it was not Messi’s best game and he lost the ball several times trying to make his characteristic runs. We needed another moment of magic from Cuenca, sending a glorious pass to Thiago who was then brought down by Miguel. The ref had no choice but to point to the penalty spot, though Messi’s penalty to Diego Alves’s left lacked conviction and the Valencia keeper made a relatively easy penalty save.

Guardiola brought on Dani Alves on the right wing as Barça began to push for the winner. Abidal got forward to force another save, and then Piqué headed over from close range afdter Messi headed back Cesc’s corner. Valencia were limited to some less intense counter attacks but Piqué was alert to cut out a couple of centres while Mascherano had an excellent match getting in front of the Valencia forwards time and again. Alves did not offer a great deal on the right but in the 74th minute he played a not-great ball inside to Messi who had to stretch to get a touch but managed to send the ball back in for Alves who was now just faced with his namesake in the Valencia goal. The angle wasn’t great but Dani should have done better, his shot bouncing out off the far post, Thiago following up had his shot blocked.

It was the last real chance as the game dropped somewhat near the end. Valencia had nothing more to offer while I think Barça were probably quite happy with the result. It was another game where we failed to control things as we like to, but perhaps compared to other games at Mestalla we didn’t suffer so much. Messi is going through another quiet spell but we know that he won’t take long to bounce back. I also feel I should again stress that I think we get a lñot more out of Alves playing from right back. The most positive thing for me was the performance of Javier Mascherano back in defence, I really think he should be a starter whatever that may mean for the Puyol-Piqué partnership.

Finally, I cannot finish without sending out my heartfelt condolenses to all those affected by the terrible tragedy after the Al Ahly-Masry game. I have no idea what was behind the problems but the scenes I saw briefly on TV were awful. What a terrible shame.

Valencia: Diego Alves; Miguel, Rami, Víctor Ruiz, Mathieu; Albelda, Banega; Piatti, Jonas, Jordi Alba; Soldado.

Barça: Pinto 6.5; Puyol 6.5, Piqué 6, Mascherano 8, Abidal 6, Busquets 6, Thiago 6 (Dos Santos m79), Fabregas 7, Cuenca 7 (Tello m87), Messi 6, Alexis 6 (Alves m63, 5.5).

Goals: m27 Jonas 1-0, m35 Puyol 1-1

Yellow cards: m34 Banega, m41 Mascherano, m46 Albelda, m53 V.Ruiz, m74 Alba, m80 Pinto, m87 Mathieu

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12 Responses to Copa del Rey semi final 1st leg: Valencia CF 1 FC Barcelona 1

  1. layibiyi says:

    yes, alves is better at right back but we all know what happens when he comes up against valencia’s overloading of their left flank at the mestalla. we cant keep allowing that to happen so good move by pep even though they still scored from there. This is the first mestalla game in a while we didnt suffer much. I thought it would have been tougher.

    good result even though we could have saved some energy for the 2nd leg by grabbing that second goal. mascherano and cuenca were impressive

  2. layibiyi says:

    pep just called it our best game at the mestalla as well.

    • barcacentralnic says:

      Pep may be right but as I said in the preview, it’s never easy at Mestalla. That said, I don’t think we played very well by our standards and we still look a bit jaded. This is something we usually suffer at this time of year, and I’m sure the trip to Japan in December won’t have helped. Considering all the negative factors: injuries and a very busy fixture list, we have done incredibly well to get where we are.

  3. Lee says:

    Pinto was “marginally outside the area.” Ha. “Marginally” best word? Try: obviously, stupidly, blatantly, irresponsibly, spastically, self destructively, psychotically, ridiculously, obnoxiously, drunkenly?
    I do like that you had Puyol “ghosting in” on the far post, though.

  4. Lee says:

    Every other article I’ve read has highlighted Pinto’s blatant error (referees blindness) in the first paragraph. How many paragraph did it take BC before noting this “marginal” mistake?
    I’m tired of my team getting hand-job calls from refs. It’s got to stop. Be objective. Or at least try.

    From Spanish Sports Blog:
    VALENCIA CF finished the match with a 1 – 1 draw against FC BARCELONA. The main controversy was the “handball” by Barça goalie Pinto in the early part of the first half that should have been a direct red card. Barça has been publicly complaining these last days about the bad treatment they receive from the referees & tonight they should consider changing their discourse as they were clearly favoured.

  5. Caleb says:

    @Lee,

    Marginally isn’t a terrible way to put it. If the ball is touching the line it is defined as being inside the Penalty Box. It was not quite touching it, but in real time it was by no means easy to tell. Marginally seems an appropriate term to use. If it wasn’t a close call, I’d like to see what you think is?

    For me it’s far worse how blatant the fouls have been against us in recent games. Nearly any time a player of ours gets space and starts to run with the ball the player behind them will just resort to pulling their jersey. No attempt for the ball. I know it’s smart. But it also is the type of thing that ruins the game. Mash did this once tonight, but Valencia did it at least 4 times… Probably quite a few more. I’m not saying that I don’t think the ref was overall calling the game in our favor. He was. Not that I think this was intentional. But there is a problem when players stop playing soccer and just grab at an opponent they can’t legally get to.

    Messi had a terrible game. His control did let him down on those runs, but it was made even worse by the fact that he had players available to pass to. He doesn’t seem to be connecting well with Sanchez (i.e. not passing to him much). The only person he passed well with tonight was Dani.

    Good result but doesn’t really feel that way.

  6. Lee says:

    Please, even Mundo Deportivo is loaded with articles about the call. To mention it as an insignificant detail in paragraph three or four, well, I cannot describe that journalistic decision without sounding mean spirited. If you can’t be objective then quit. Look, we have to admit that something is wrong, and we are getting too many important calls in our favor. To continue writing about games as if the officiating is objective is detrimental to the game we claim to love.

    • Caleb says:

      Too many calls in our favor? Like how Real Madrid didn’t have anyone sent off until Ramos in the 88th minute of the second leg even though at least 5 of them could have seen reds before that? We’ve had calls go our way, but I don’t think it’s supremely unbalanced like you’re making it out to be. Real definitely get calls going their way, too. Often Nic avoids blaming outcomes on the ref when things don’t go our way it the ref really had a stinker. The fact that he’s not giving the refs all the credit for a decent result is no reason to tell him to quit.

  7. barcacentralenrique says:

    of course pinto was outside the area. do i feel we cheated valencia, no. you win some you lose some in this game of near incompetent refereeing in la liga. and we’ve lost a few now so dont feel lucky by that. but yes, it was clearly a red card.

    i unfortunately couldnt watch the game, but from the extended highights looks like we pretty much dominated chances, 2nd half in particular. cuenca did some nice stuff and obviously i cannot comment on messi’s overall game but he still did a lot of goods things, including 2 great passes to alexis. diego alves has a sick pk record as well guys, only lets them in 30% of the time.

    anyway, 1-1 is fine in the copa in valencia, more than fine really. league is now where it matters so the game saturday is more important. looking fwd to it

  8. bc9jaCulé says:

    Seriously, Pinto should have actually walked but HEY(!!!!!) stop making a meal about it and RELAX!!!!!. We simply got that in our favour and that aint bad at all considering the COUNTLESS other calls that have gone against us. Remember, many “MORE BLATANT” red card calls have not been made against our opponents. Likewise, many uncalled penalties and non–existent offside calls have ruined our chances in numerous games this season. So, the calls (both for and against) are yet to even out if the equation were to be balanced on both sides.

    My point? The match officials still owe us a lot. Although, I’m not particularly encouraging or asking for their favours. But, if and when we do get these ‘favourable’ calls, people need to quit reacting as if a tornado just erupted and swept off the club the call went against. By and large, the officials must sharpen up and endeavour as much as possible to make balanced calls without any iota of sentiments, emotions or being biased. I get the feeling that many anti–Barça fans just love to pounce on any ‘reason’ to criticize and maim the pedigree of Barça basically because of our unparalleled supremacy both locally and all over Europe since Laporta’s presidency and are just anxiously impatient and desperately longing for Barça’s downfall. Will you all BACK OFF, please?????!!!!!

    About the match, we had our chances to finish off the tie but Lady Luck wasn’t so generous last night. But then, the boys did fairly OK. It’s just that they may be very tired and exhausted after all these years of consistent excellent football the world has never seen before. The boys haven’t been too convincing lately but I choose to call it a temporary bad patch that will be shaken off soon enough. God willing, we’ll make the final after the second leg in Camp Nou. And Messi should practice penalties more often in training because it won’t do any good to the pedigree of a player being touted as the best in history to miss penalties so often. All the same, I trust the abilities of these rare group of players and I strongly believe they’ll pull through and fly high in ALL the competitions they are negotiating.

    Som–Hi Barça!!!!!

  9. Fredegar says:

    Man of the match: Carles Puyol! Not for his goal, and despite his responsibility for the Valencia goal, just for his insane double “roll and turn” in the midfield. I think we don’t really need Iniesta, let’s just start playing Puyol in his place 😉 Was a great moment, it made my evening.
    Other than that I just caught the last 35 mins, but what I saw felt very strange with Pinto throwing long balls from his goal and our midfield completely losing control, which made for a pretty entertaining match of football. Fabregas is no Xavi and it showed, maybe with more practice it will come.
    Valencia are really a spectacular team to watch and our games against them are among the most entertaining you can watch in the game. I would really like them if only they would stop to bottle it against Madrid.
    And on a specific note, I’m glad we scored once more on a corner, we seem to have worked very hard on them as it’s the second time Carles can score on the far post and also Messi received the ball twice in this same area…

  10. FCB-Parbo says:

    It’s now very obvious that teams are beginning to play a la RM with their rough tackles. We were so unfortunate last night to win the match. It’s not over yet, but our team played better than in the last two games. Really, I don’t expect much from Messi right now coz the opponents are trying very hard to rip him off. He has been marked by more than 2/3 players and when he manage to dribble pass them he will then get hacked. To be fair and to make matter worse, Messi isn’t at his best right now and maybe he carries too much burden on his shoulders. I know he will bounce back, coz he is as cool as ever. So sad he missed that penalty, but I hope he can make it right at Camp Nou.

    Oh yeah, I hope Pep starts with Tello in the return match. Well, if not, bring him at least right after halftime. He’s such an explosive guy. He can’t do much in 5 min. Pep, so please give him more playing time. We need somebody like him right now.

    Som–Hi Barça!!!!!
    Visca Barça!!!!!
    Forca Barça!!!!!

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