Barça responded with precision to the pressure at Mestalla. The stage and the classification pressed the azulgrana, who freed themselves with a devastating win that allowed them to regain their place in the Champions zone. The Barcelona snipers were far superior to the Valencianists in a duel of forwards that was not led by Ferran Torres but by Aubameyang. The former Arsenal attacker was very precise in a duel between intemperate teams and sometimes even maddened by his poor performance in the League. In the absence of consistency and stability, reliability prevailed: Barcelona shot six times and scored four goals, nothing to do with the game against Naples, when 21 shots only earned him 1-1.
Mamardashvili, Omar Alderete (Eray Cömert, min. 84), Mouctar Diakhaby, Foulquier, Gayá (Lato, min. 64), Bryan Gil Salvatierra, Carlos Soler, Hugo Guillamón (Maxi Gómez, min. 45), Moriba Kourouma (Uros Racic , min. 65), Gonçalo Guedes and Hugo Duro (Marcos André, min. 84)
Ter Stegen, Sergiño Dest, Eric Garcia (Óscar Mingueza, min. 45), Ronald Araújo, Alba, Frenkie De Jong (Pedri, min. 59), Busquets, Gavi (Adama Traoré, min. 80), Ferrán Torres, Aubameyang ( Luuk de Jong, min. 80) and Ousmane Dembélé (Nico González, min. 70)
goals 0-1 min. 22: Aubameyang. 0-2 minutes 31: Frenkie De Jong. 0-3 min. 37: Aubameyang. 1-3 min. 51: Carlos Soler. 1-4 min. 62: Aubameyang.
Referee Charles of the Big Hill
Yellow cards Alba (min. 34), Moriba Kourouma (min. 52), Ronald Araújo (min. 55), Nico González (min. 71), Lato (min. 75), Carlos Soler (min. 76) and Sergiño Dest (min. 92)
Perhaps because the squad has increased, and therefore the resources, it is still not very well known who the Barça starting eleven will be. The slogan is unequivocal: we must fight relentlessly for victory because defeat is prohibited by decree, a plan that in times of Barça’s rehabilitation forces them to mix possession with recovery regardless of whether the game is played at the Camp Nou or in Mestalla. The dilemma favored Dembélé’s alignment. And the Frenchman, a winger by definition, capable of unbalancing his opponent or unhinging his own team, fit perfectly in a team without Pedri, the midfielder who thinks about football to the rhythm of Xavi.
Barcelona played with fluidity, serenity and, at the same time, at a devilish speed in their transitions, as selective and effective in their attacks as when they thrashed Atlético. The azulgrana had three arrivals and three goals before reaching the break: 0-3. Dembélé opened the pitch, Frenkie de Jong energized the game, Jordi Alba went deep and Aubameyang evoked his times as an Arsenal striker. Bordalás’ team never arrived in time to torpedo Barça’s joyful football, wild in attack and vulnerable in defense, favored by the circumstances and by the VAR measurement, which did not validate a shot by Carlos Soler after a rejection by Jordi Alba .
Valencia’s defense defended Aubameyang’s entries much worse. The striker’s breaks behind the center backs allowed him to gain meters and also time to finish off the 0-1 and later clinch Gavi’s center at 0-3. Frenkie de Jong made it 0-2 after a cross from Dembélé. Xavi’s team played, passed and stretched viciously, dominating the tempo and rhythm of the clash, and Bordalás’ team did not stop running without getting anywhere. There was no possibility of interrupting the game, nor of forcing a free kick, nor of stopping a match that was running smoothly for Barcelona. The afternoon turned in favor of the azulgrana, as successful as they were accurate, given the impotence of Valencia.
Until the break came and Mestalla lit up with Carlos Soler’s goal. The midfielder headed like the best of the battering rams a temperate center from Bryan Gil: 1-3. The azulgrana lost competitive tension, relaxed and gave ground for Valencia’s charge. Maxi Gómez’s entry was as intimidating as Eric García’s injury, replaced by Mingueza, who had been recruited due to Piqué’s suspension. The centrals come and go without knowing very well who is worth and who is not, often passive, and active instead when it is not appropriate, just as it happened in Koeman’s time, when defeats were explained from individual errors , including those of goalkeeper Ter Stegen.
Valencia attacked with four strikers when Ferran insisted on a ball that ended up bouncing off Alderete. The refusal was left at the feet of Pedri and the player from Tenerife hooked a shot from outside the area that surprised Mamardashvili after touching Aubameyang, who was awarded the goal by the referee. Although he had appeared to temper the game, Pedri was decisive as a finisher at the moment in which the match opened from area to area, uncontrolled by the lack of personality of the contenders, the midfielders were overcome, the midfielders were exposed and the forwards were very interventionist, even after Nico’s appearance.
The goal saved Barcelona’s victory. Football, on the other hand, declined badly due to Barça’s inability to rest with the ball, to tame the contest, to subdue a rival trapped by a defeatist dynamic: seven games without winning and four goals conceded against Barcelona. Not even in a surprisingly easy game like the one at Mestalla did the azulgrana stop suffering, lacking pause, brake and calm, determined that each play be a goal, either in the opponent’s area or in Ter Stegen’s, decisive and solvent when the score was already decided with 1-4.
Barcelona have lost their memory and today they don’t know how to defend with the ball, have long possessions, give continuity to the game and control the game in situations as advantageous as the one at Mestalla. Bet on resolving the matches by effectiveness and its solvency was much higher than that of an even more tachycardic and lost opponent such as Valencia. Barça did not forgive in Mestalla after taking pity on Naples. The Europa League awaits on Thursday after saving the Champions zone.
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