Barcelona Held to 1-1 Draw at Valencia
Following Real Madrid's defeat to Granada last night, it was Barcelona's turn to demonstrate that the strains of El Clasico might be catching.
Although that may be unfair on Valencia who put them to the test at the Mestalla—a stadium where Barca have now only managed to win once at in their last seven visits across all competitions.
Valencia took the lead in the first half through Ever Banega but La Blaugrana were soon level.
Pedro Rodriguez was adjudged to have been fouled in the box and Lionel Messi smashed home the penalty emphatically.
Victor Valdes made a brilliant double save late on although Cesc Fabregas could have won it for Barca before then.
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Full Time: Valencia 1-1 Barcelona (Banega, Messi)
Valencia; Guaita; Joao Pereira, Rami, R. Costa, Cissokho; V. Ruiz, T. Costa; Bernat (Piatti), Éver Banega (Canales), Guardado (Jonas); Soldado
Barcelona; Valdés; Alves, Piqué, Mascherano (Puyol), Alba; Busquets, Xavi (Thiago), Cesc (Villa); Iniesta, Messi, Pedro
And that is full time. It has finished 1-1. Valencia attacked again at the end but Canales's pull back found no willing runners in the area as stoppage time ticked to an end.
Valencia should and could have won it! Victor Valdes just made a fantastic double save as Los Che looked set to clinch the three points and then celebrated like he's won the Champions League. Heading into stoppage time. Still level.
Pedro gets a shot in on his left foot but it is a comfortable save for Guaita.
Into the last ten minutes. Still 1-1. The only time in La Liga Barca have failed to scored twice in a game this season? Valencia at home when Adriano's strike gave them a 1-0 win.
Great chance for Villa. Alves gets forward down the right, squares for Villa who can't quite find the target with his first touch of the game. Was a wonderful chance though.
Alba is fouled giving Xavi the chance to swing in a free kick. Puyol's cut back collected by Guaita who releases Valencia for a counter attack which leads to a corner. The corner is easily dealt with by La Blaugrana though.
Each side make another change. Pablo Piatti replaces Juan Bernat while Barca bring ex-Los Che man David Villa on for Fabregas.
Canales is straight into the action. The former Madrid player collecting Guardado's left-wing cut back before shooting across Valdes. The Barca 'keeper makes a good save though and nothing comes from the resulting corner.
Sergio Canales replaces Ever Banega shortly before Soldado flashes a half volley wide at the near post. His first touch was brilliant, the finish not so.
Alba's hand ball leads to a Valencia free kick. Tino Costa's left foot shot fizzes low through the bodies in the box but Valdes watches it all the way.
At the other end Messi fires over from about 30 yards.
Great chance for Fabregas. Put through by Messi exquisitely but can't find the target. In the meantime Puyol has come on for Mascherano who was booked in the first half.
Great run by Soldado to get in front of his marker but his header ripples the side netting. Still 1-1.
Second under way. Soldado already booked for a stamp on Busquets, it was unclear how intentional it was.
An intriguing if not sensational first half in Valencia. Ever Banega gave the home side the lead before Lionel Messi's penalty brought Barca back into the game.
Los Che can boast nine shots to Barcelona's three in the first 45, although, as expected, the visitors have dominated possession at the Mestalla with 64 percent to Valencia's 36 (via whoscored.com)
HALF TIME: Valencia 1-1 Barcelona
A Guardado cross-cum-shot almost caught Valdes unaware briefly before half time as things end all square at the interval.
There's been a bit of flurry after the Barcelona equalizer although little has been created. Valencia failed to produce from a corner, a Barcelona counter broke down and Valdes easily claimed a Los Che cross. Still 1-1.
GOL. Pedro touched in the box, referee points to the penalty spot and Messi dispatches. 1-1.
Banega was allowed time to collect a cross inside the area, take a touch and fire a low drive through two Barcelona players leaving the unsighted Victor Valdes little chance.
GOL. Ever Banega. Valencia 1-0 Barcelona.
Thirty minutes gone and still 0-0. Valencia are pressing well but the question will be how long can Valverde's men keep the intensity up?
Yellow card for Mascherano who brought down Soldado on the edge of the box. Free kick hits the Barca wall, Los Che feel it may have hit some hands ... nothing given,
After 20 minutes it remains fairly even. There have been few chances other than Pique and Rami's headers from corners and Costa denying Pedro. Messi has not yet been as involved as he, or Barcelona, would like.
Ricardo Costa is struggling. The Portuguese defender has gone down injured after denying Pedro a goal. He has hobbled off to receive treatment but it looks like he will continue for now.
Guardado flashes a shot across the area as Valencia make their first impact of the game. Adil Rami then heads over from a corner.
Jordi Alba—returning to Valencia—is wiped out by Adil Rami early on before Pique heads wide from an early Barca corner.
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