FC Barcelona 1 Valencia 0

Barça stay top of La Liga tonight after Adriano Correia’s 23rd minute strike earned a narrow 1-0 victory over Valencia at Camp Nou. The victory should have been more comfortable but Barça missed chances which led to a nervous finish with Valencia twice going close in the closing minutes.

Before the game Andres Iniesta came out to show the crowd his Uefa best player award but the surprise was that he started on the bench. Tito Vilanova gave a first start to Alex Song in place of Sergio Busquets, joining Xavi and his ex-Arsenal team-mate Cesc Fabregas in midfield, while Dani Alves returned at right back with Adriano again being preferred over Jordi Alba at left back. It should also be noted that Vilanova had to watch the match from the stands after his sending off last week which meant his number two Jordi Roura was on the touchline to direct the team.

In the very first minute of the game Dani Alves received a knock that had him looking uncomfortable early on and he would eventually be substituted at half time. He didn’t seem too affected and Barça generally started in fine flowing style with Song fitting in very well, showing good positioning, distribution and anticipation. The first goal attempt came in the 8th minute when Fabregas and Alexis worked the ball to Pedro on the right and the Canaraian cut inside before shooting low straight at Diego Alves in the Valencia goal.

It must be said that Valencia never sat back to defend, with coach Mauricio Pelligrini instructing his defence to push up when they could. In the 11th minute a long ball found Soldado, Piqué allowed him a yard of space and the Valencia forward curled a wicked shot just wide of Valdés’s far post.

Soon after Piqué was booked for putting up an arm and catching Jonas as he jumped for the ball, but Barça were generally controlling things. in the 16th minute Messi headed well over from Adriano’s cross, and a minute later Messi got a better header, this time from Dani Alves’s cross but Diego Alves got down well to save.

Barça continued to push Valencia back with typical slick patient build-ups. In the 22nd minute Messi found room to shoot but his shot was deflected for a corner on the left. Xavi took it short to Messi who played the ball inside to Adriano who, from just outside the corner of the penalty box, struck a beautiful curling shot high past Alves into the top corner.

Two minutes after the goal Xavi sent a brilliant pass through to Pedro who, stretching, forced another save from Alves. Barça were really buzzing now and a couple of minutes later Xavi and Messi combined to set up Fabregas with a golden opportunity, ten yards out, but he pulled his clipped shot a bit too far as Alves came out and the ball nicked the outside of the far post and went out.

There was one worrying moment for Barça in the 33rd minute as Piqué left his arm up going for another header against Soldado but this time the ref preferred not to see what looked like a clearer foul than the one in the 13th minute. Near the end of the first half, which was dominated by Barça, Valencia managed to worry our defence a little, though in the most dangerous incursion Feghouli was greedy before shooting wildly wide. The half ended with a Barça free kick and then a corner as the ref allowed injury time to run on but Messi’s final effort at the end of the half was blocked.

Jordi Alba came on at half time for Alves, meaning Adriano switched to right back and Valencia began the second half looking more dangerous, winning three corners in the first five minutes. Then Adriano tried his luck from the attacking right back position but he couldn’t repeat his earlier effort from the left, sending his shot well wide.

Barça were back to dominating but the second goal wouldn’t come. Alexis, who had a pretty quiet game, mainly on the left, switched to the right and in one moment of brilliance he turned past Ruiz before pulling the ball back to give Fabregas another great chance but this time he leant back too much and sent his shot well over from about twelve yards out.

Adriano had yet another effort, this time straight at the goalkeeper after a good one-two with Fabregas but with the score still at 1-0 the lack of a second goal began to be worrying. Ruiz had the ball in Barça’s net but was flagged for being offside from Tino Costa’s free kick and not long after Barça brought on Iniesta for Fabregas with the intention of maintaining control.

Xavi, along with Song, hardly put a foot wrong in midfield, in one moment of brilliance Xavi dragged the ball back before slipping the ball through Guardado’s legs and now with Iniesta on the pitch our possession game looked very solid. However, we sometimes seemed almost too worried about losing the ball that our attacks often seemed to turn themselves back rather than go for the goal.

Messi went on a couple of typical runs with no success and with the minutes running out Valencia made a final push forward for an equalizer. With Busquets coming on for Alexis for the last five minutes it was clear Barça were holding on to the lead. Valdés missed one corner that Adriano headed out, then in injury time Tino Costa sent in a corner from the left which found Ruiz jumping to head just a foot over Victor Valdés’s crossbar, and with fingernails being chewed all round Camp Nou Jonas sent a looping volley that dipped just too late, landing on the top of the net as it came down.

The final whistle came as a big relief today but in general terms we dominated enough tonight to deserve the victory. It should be remembered that Valencia already got a draw at the Bernabeu which should demonstrate the importance of the win. Apart from the Xavi masterclass in midfield I was especially impressed again with Alex Song who is looking as though he grew up in La Masia and if he continues in such form he will give Busquets a much needed challenge for the defensive midfield role. Adriano also deserves credit despite his golazo, as he performed well both at left back and right back, and it is certainly not going to be easy for Jordi Alba to win a regular first team place.

Barça: Valdés 6; Dani Alves 6.5 (Alba m45, 7), Piqué 7, Mascherano 7, Adriano 8; Xavi 9, Song 8, Fabregas 6.5 (Iniesta m63, 7); Pedro 7, Messi 7, Alexis 6 (Busquets m87, –).

Valencia: Diego Alves; Pereira, Ruiz, Rami, Cissoko; Albelda (Gago m77), Tino Costa; Feghouli (Nelson Valdez m82), Jonas, Guardado (Viera m77); Soldado.

Goal: m23 Adriano 1-0.

Yellow cards: m13 Piqué, m28 Guardado, m88 Rami

Attendance: 76,352

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13 Responses to FC Barcelona 1 Valencia 0

  1. Pingback: FC Barcelona 1 Valencia 0 « denniscoble

  2. kevinimills says:

    Reblogged this on kimmblog.

  3. barcacentralomer says:

    A narrow win for Barca. Still not sure whats up with Alexis and Cesc. They both look rusty and again it seems rather strange that the two high profile signings of last season don’t look like they’re good enough to Barca starting XI material at present.

    Pique is up to his antics again and picking up bookings for stupid reasons. Maybe Shakira wants him to practice his dance moves on the football pitch.

    @Nic: While I agree Alex Song seems to have fitted in quite easily into the starting XI, the question IMO still remains – did Barca need a backup/competition for Busquets or did we need a top CB. Maybe Song will perform as a CB also and then I’ll eat up my comments about the rationale behind his signing….:)

    • bc9jaCule says:

      I understand thatyou directed your question to Nic but here’s my two cents on it.

      Truth is; Song gave our defensive core a much-needed solidity I haven’t seen in a long while in the sense that he was always rightly positioned in his ‘4’ area. This also enforced Pique & Masche to play closer to Valdez, the end result being that we were defensively well-covered and Valencia rarely had a clear shot on goal all night. Song held the ball well with tip-top distribution (I still can’t believe his seamless understanding of our complex tiki taka possession game. In fact, even Fabregas haven’t shown the such understanding in our midfield setup.) coupled with the fact that he’s got the physical strength, the pressing verve and the attacking edge. Ultimately, I noticed that Xavi was very very comfortable playing with and around him. And, as Nic rightly highlighted, he, along with Xavi, scarcely put a foot wrong last night. Again, we all shouldn’t forget that he made a very impressive debut against Madrid @ the Bernabeu despite being one man down and followed that up with a solid and reassuring display against Valencia which makes it two masterful display against two top teams. Believe me, if we had played so defensively organized from the off the last time out against Madrid – while still playing such breathtaking attacking football – they wouldn’t have carved out our defense so much & we most probably would have whipped them silly in front of their own fans.

      I know it’s still early days but if Song continues down this lane he has embarked on, we might be having another Yaya Toure in our midst and you might bet that he’ll ALWAYS start especially in the BIG, BIG games.

    • bc9jaCule says:

      That was quite some good game with non-stop attacking display — simply electrifying for the whole 90.

      In fact, almost everything was OK in the game except that;
      Fabregas really needs to WAKE UP or risk being shipped on loan to anywhere else (Ibra, anyone?). I might be too harsh on him but for how long is he gonna be napping on his responsibilities? He’s definitely not comfortable playing in the midfield and even in his preferred forward-roaming role, he’s totally lost it. With each passing game since the 2nd half of last season, he’s been unfolding to be a player not worthy to play for Barca. Now, my major concern is that Fabregas might be a cancer to realizing Thiago’s full potential and IMO, Thiago is already an all-round better player than him.

      One question: For how long is the club willing to wait on him to come good?!?!?!?!?!

  4. layibiyi says:

    I feel this setup is the best we can offer fabregas when using the normal 433. With a little more confidence, he could have ended up with a brace. Hope he finds a way to come through. I was encouraged by alexis taking on his man on occasion and succeeding, he passes backwards too much attimes. People would like to complain more about the scoreline but considering what valencia did versus madrid, we should be happy we won and created more chances.

  5. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    Great write up as usual Nic. Before beginning my comments about this game….firstly i would like to again thank you Nic…and all of the rest of the fans in here for keeping this blog alive and kicking. I must say….that this blog means alot to me. All these years, since FCBNEWS…..i have never missed 1 match review from you Nic. There was a time when you announced that you could no longer keep up with the blog….at that moment i have to tell you that i felt so down and sick in the stomach…..it was as even worser feeling than the one i had when Ronaldinho lost his Barcelona magic and when Yaya Toure left us. It left me in a daze for many many days. Yes, i do read up about Barcelona at many other sites and read some news from places like ESPNSOCCERNET, TRIBALFOOTBALL and stuff….But as far as Barcelona FC is in concern,,,this has always been and will always be my number 1 place to go. Thanks again to Nic and all of you folks in here!

  6. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    Here’s what i can say about the game. Similar to the write up above,,i felt we definitely dominated the game in general. I would have loved for us to have a little more penetration upfront. Could the usage of a David Villa in the box have increased our goals scored for the night??

    @barcacentralomer – I have to mention that feel that your assessment of Fabregas and Alexis for this match seems a little harsh. Yes, its true that they weren’t so good in this match…but having said that, this was certainly one of the better performance from the both of em…We can afford to give them more time….but they have to put in more work. Alexis on his finishing…Fabregas, on his passing…and dominating of that midfield. I expect a much better pass completion rate and alot more killer passes from him…..which seemed to have dried out lately.

    Apart from those TWO…i must also say that ADRIANO’s goal was indeed sublime. Wonder strike from the guy. But, still i am really not confident with his defending. He has to buck up and show some improvement in defending. He can be awesome going forward at times, but his defending is still substandard for this Barcelona team.

    Messi didn’t have a good game for his standards,,,and i must add that at times we must take that brave move to sub him out. Sometimes, the team has got to learn how to mix it up a little…LEARN how to play some minutes without their main man. In this way, people like Alexis Sanchez will learn how to take charge of things and not just hope for 1 man to always get the job done. Messi is great and all,,,but sometimes he needs to be rested. Sometimes, the team needs to learn. I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHAT YOU FOLKS GOT TO SAY ABOUT THIS??

    • FCB-Parbo says:

      FCB Rocks- you’re spot on! I loooove Messi, but sometimes he dissapoints me when he doesn’t track back when he himself loses the ball. Go run and get the ball back. I know I know, not that he doesn’t defend at all, but maybe by his standard he comes over as lazy for not tracking back. Good old Xavi does track back, why should Messi not. Maybe Messi is getting irritated that he has been surrounded by three or more defenders. The kicking and shoving, it all draws energy from him. But, not seeing Messi on the pitch would be a little weird and not so exciting I must say.

      It’s time for Cesc to WAKE UP!!! Really, what happened to him. After the winterbreak of last season he hasn’t been himself anymore. His confidence is very low, maybe Cesc should start and Messi on the bench (that would never happen if he’s not injured, touch wood).

      Alexis should man up. Glad to see that he didn’t fall at every little touch. It will also be good for his play and reputation.

      Visca Barca!!!
      Forca Barca!!!

  7. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    I just hope the manager gives Messi a break in those easy matches…or atleast minimize his minutes. The guy is essential for us for the entire season….and the rest of the team has to learn somehow to PLAY WITHOUT MESSI in case of an emergency or an injury to our KING.

  8. I’m hoping Cesc plays next week…he’s been benched for way too long.

  9. Pingback: Preview: Valencia vs FC Barcelona (game 22 liga 2012/13) | barçacentral

  10. Pingback: Preview: FC Barcelona vs Valencia (game 22 liga 2013/14) | barçacentral

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