FC Barcelona could not get the El Clásico hangover fully out of them as el blaugrana were held to a 1-1 tie against a resurgent Valencia at the Mestalla on Sunday.
Valencia had a good shot at the opening goal as Andres Guardado's shot was blocked by Dani Alves. No hand ball was called on the Brazilian.
Ever Banega got the scoring started in the 33th minute as the Argentine took the deflected pass and slammed the ball past Victor Valdes for the 1-0 lead.
Just six minutes later a foul on Pedro inside the box lead to a penalty. Lionel Messi stepped up and slammed the spot kick past a diving Vicente Guita for the equalizer. It was Leo's 34th Liga goal this season. Messi extended his own record by scoring in his 12th straight Liga match.
Messi becomes the only player in the history of La Liga to score 34 goals after 22 games (via @champ_ian).
In the second half, Roberto Soldado just missed giving Valencia the lead in the 51st minute as his diving header just missed.
Cesc Fabregas just missed giving Barça the lead in the 55th minute as a fabulous Messi pass found Cesc, but the former Arsenal captain went slightly left of the post. Tino Costa's free kick went straight to Valdes in the 58th minute.
Messi had an open shot in the 61st minute, but instead of taking it Leo crossed it into the middle only to find no one. Valdes made a tremendous save on a Sergio Canales shot in the 68th minute.
David Villa came in for Cesc Fabregas in the 72nd minute. The crowd at the Mestalla clapped for the former Che player.
A beautiful run by Dani Alves found the cross to Villa, but David missed wide right in the 77th minute.
Aly Cissokho picked the pocket of Pique in the 89th minute, and passed it to Pablo Piatti for the shot. Piatti's shot was blocked by Valdes, then Victor saved Soldado's shot from point-blank range. Incredible by VV.
FINAL: Valencia CF 1 - 1 FC Barcelona
A fair result for both teams. Valencia wanted the win more than Barcelona, but Barca earned the one point thanks to solid play from Victor Valdes and Jordi Alba.
There were few talking points from this game, so let's just look at two takeaways "From The Mind of Xoel" from FC Barcelona's 1-1 draw against Valencia on Sunday.
While Lionel Messi got a goal against Valenica, Leo was completely off his game. Don't get me wrong, Messi still made solid passes to his teammates. But his game was not 100 percent there.
Leo has had a difficult few games. Real Madrid did a good job giving Messi a tough time, while Valencia did the same. Messi was getting easily frustrated by the Valencia defenders and midfielders.
It's not typical to see Leo get frustrated, or even complain, during a game. But Messi was complaining at the referee a bit too much during the Valencia game.
I don't know if Messi is suffering from an El Clásico hangover, but he hasn't been the Leo we all know and love. Given, he is allowed to have a bad game or two.
Perhaps we just expect too much from Lionel Messi. Then again, he's set the bar so high—even for himself.
Messi needs to bounce back next week against Getafe at the Camp Nou. I'm not worried about him, but in order to get out of this funk he's in, Messi needs at least two goals in the game.
Am I asking for too much?
I don't think so.
Jordi Roura went with a great starting lineup against Valencia on Sunday.
But as great as the number one starting lineup is, it's time to switch things up.
Let's get things clear: The lineup of Valdes; Alba, Pique, Puyol, Alves; Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Cesc; Pedro, Messi, and Iniesta is still the number one lineup Barcelona can present. This is the lineup that should go up against Real Madrid in the second leg of the Copa del Rey semifinal, as well as Champions League action.
But some of the players on the bench need more starting time. David Villa looked extremely rusty when he came on for Fabregas against Valencia. Thiago Alcantara has continued to play well when he's in games.
And with Xavi being out for 15 days with an injury, Thiago definitely needs to start.
For the Getafe game, I'd start both Thiago and David Villa. They need and deserve more playing time.
Speaking of playing time, how about giving Marc Bartra or Cristian Tello some time on the pitch?
It's not that I'm upset at Tito Vilanova or Jordi Roura. It's just that I want to see things get switched up. With all due respect to Getafe, they are not Real Madrid. The number one starting lineup is not needed next week against Getafe.
As much as some Barca fans may not like me saying this, Alexis Sanchez is going to need a start as well. We gotta see if he can redeem himself.
With Atletico Madrid's win against Real Betis, the Liga lead for Barcelona is now nine. While it wasn't the scoreline that Barcelona fans wanted, give credit to Valencia who arguably played better the entire game. Things could have been worse.
Look on the bright side, at least Barcelona went up one more point on Real Madrid in the Liga standings this weekend.
Time for this team to bounce back.
Time for FC Barcelona get a win against Getafe at the Camp Nou.
Xoel, The Voice of FC Barcelona
Don't forget to check out my other columns: