Barcelona 2-3 Valencia: 6 Things We Learned
All is not well at FC Barcelona. After falling to Valencia at the Camp Nou to the tune of a 3-2 scoreline, La Blaugrana find themselves in serious danger of being pushed down to third in the La Liga table by the end of the weekend.
The Catalans had a strong start to the game and Lionel Messi showed his normal dazzling self. However, defensive errors and lack of a killer instinct allowed Valencia to get the result no one was expecting.
With that being said, let's take a look at six things we learned from the shocking upset at the Camp Nou.
*All statistics are courtesy of WhoScored.com
Messi Showed His Best
Lionel Messi has been back from injury for a while now and he is finally starting to show his regular unbelievable self.
The Argentine was involved in both of Barcelona goals on the night, giving an assist and scoring from the penalty spot later in the match. Messi was by far Barcelona's most dangerous player and he made his presence felt.
Messi was able to get eight shots off during the match, but the most incredible statistic was that he also won a total of nine dribbles. He was everywhere.
In truth, Messi was the only real bright spot for Barcelona. Without him this match could have ended up being a lot worse for La Blaugrana. There is always a silver lining, and this time it is that Messi looked very good.
A Lack of Options Can Still Kill Barcelona
Barcelona is known as a team that can be beaten if an opponent deploys just the right tactics. Though Valencia struggled greatly at times, they did what was needed to take down the Catalans.
As stated earlier, Messi was the only bright spot for Barcelona. Only at the rarest of occasions did other players step up and make something happen and that severely hurt Barcelona in the long run.
Alexis Sanchez and Pedro, though in incredible form as of late, were neutralized by Valencia. At the same time, the midfielders were kept from really making something happen meaning that Barcelona's attacks became stagnant at times.
In the end, the Barcelona defense will be blamed the most for allowing Valencia to score three goals, but the offense needed to change things up to take the pressure off of the backline.
Valencia Still Aren't Going to Play in Europe Next Year
Valencia fans will be celebrating this victory for a while, and they should. It was a massive result for a club that has been struggling this season and they deserve to be extremely proud of winning at the Camp Nou.
However, this result does not change things for Valencia in the long run.
The club is still struggling to win the games that they should and will remain the dark horse side for finishing in the European zone of the table. It is easy to get very optimistic after a result like this, but the club must be realistic.
Valencia will be fighting the likes of Athletic Club Bilbao, Villarreal, Real Sociedad and Sevilla for European play, and quite honestly all four of those clubs have been playing at a higher level all season.
It is true that a result like this can always spark a wonderful run of form that could spur Valencia to a great finish in the league, but that is still a very unlikely outcome at this point.
Errors All Around
Barcelona were not just beaten by Valencia, they gave the game away.
Victor Valdes made more than one mistake in goal. Jordi Alba got sent off. Even the midfielders gave the ball away far too many times.
It was a disappointing and poor result for the Catalans and they really have no one to blame but themselves. Play was sloppy and Valencia knew how to take advantage of mistakes in order to get a result.
Champions League play will be picking back up very soon, and this showing from Barcelona was the opposite of what they needed. They are now set to face off with Manchester City in the coming weeks and they can't afford to play this way.
Times are tough for Barcelona. Manager Tata Martino has a lot of work to do and the Catalans have to respond.
Tata Martino Has to Accept Some of the Blame
Despite the players not putting in a good performance, manager Tata Martino must also take some of the blame as his decisions were questionable as well.
Martino did start a very strong side, but when things got tough he did little to stop it. After Messi tied the game at 2-2, the manager should have looked to either go for another goal or ease the pressure on the back.
There was absolutely no change and it cost the Catalans. A few minutes later Paco Alcacer gave Valencia the 3-2 lead and even then Martino still waited to make a change.
The manager eventually brought on both Andres Iniesta and Cristian Tello, which made sense due to their attacking abilities. However, both Xavi and Cesc Fabregas were subbed off meaning there was no creativity in the midfield needed to set up scoring chances.
Martino has to accept some of the blame because he did little to stop the bleeding. From this point on, the manager has to make some adjustments or things could get even worse for Barcelona.
Barcelona Are in Danger of Falling Behind in the Title Race
As of right now FC Barcelona are still leaders of the La Liga table. But that will most likely not be the case by the end of the weekend.
The loss to Valencia marks the third time in 2014 that Barcelona have dropped points. The new year has not been kind to La Blaugrana and that is seriously worrying.
It is hard to pinpoint just why Barcelona has been struggling over the past month, but it is clear that something isn't quite right. Combine that with the drama that has been plaguing the club recently and you have a major issue.
The next month will be a decisive time for the club. They have a lot of things to work on, and if they want silverware at the end of the season, changes must come immediately.
What did you take away from Barcelona's loss to Valencia? Is the club in danger of falling behind in the La Liga title race? Leave your thoughts and comments below!