Oct 18, 2009

Barca Drop Their First Points of The Season; Valencia - 0, Barca - 0

FC Barcelona's winning streak came to a hold at the Mestella, when they were held to a goal less draw by Valencia. Actually Barca was lucky not to have lost the match, a combination of great goal keeping by Valdes and some poor finishing by Valencia players prevented a Valencia win. Valencia were the better team in both the halfs, especially in the first half. David Villa was ruled out of the encounter and would have definitely made a difference with his finishing. For Barca Ibrahmovic and Bojan both started from the bench. Valdes kept the goal ahead of a defensive formation of Alves, Puyol, Pique and Abidal. Xavi, Keita and Toure formed the midfield. Iniesta, Pedro and Messi formed the attacking trio. The lack of a genuine centre forward means that we were going to struggle knitting up attacks. And to make matter worse we lost the midfield battle in the absence of Iniesta from the midfield. In attack Iniesta was the best Barca player in display.

FC Barcelona was lucky not to have gone behind in the 2nd minute. Valencia broke on the counter with Silva who slid the ball ahead of the defense to Pablo in; but Pablo could only shoot straight at Valdes from a one on one situation. In the 5th minute Valencia again counter with pace from a Barca corner on the other end;Pablo cuts inside to beat Iniesta and skip past Abidal and send in a cross which Mata could only send high under pressure from Puyol. The only Barca player who looked dangerous in the opening exchanges was Iniesta but he was kept on bay by some neat defending from Valencia. In the 20th minute Valdes was quick to deny Mata from a great througball from Banega. In the 32nd minute Mata wasted another chance by firing over. In the 35th minute Alves send s in a good ball to Iniesta in the box but valencia goal keeper reads the danger and comes early to cut the angle. In the next minute Alves and Iniesta combines well again but Valencia defense held their own conceding a corner. The first half ended with not much effort from Barca and the second half could only be an improvement.

Barca looked more determined in the second half. Once again Iniesta was at the centre of all good moves of Barca which unfortunately were few compared to their usual standards. In the 62nd minute Messi had the real first genuine chance for Barca but Cesar was ionce again upto it. In the 64th minute Xavi receives the ball in the right and sends in a great chip to Pedro who arrives in the middle of the box; Pedro instead of going for the shot takes a touch giving Valencia defense time to and his subsequent effort was deflected for a corner. In the 68th minute Pablo tries a long lob from Valencia half , Valdes somehow backtracks and tip the ball over. The rest of the half wend without much fanfare. In the 88th minute Cesar spills Toure shot but was able to recover it from going into the net.

This was a very much below par performance from Barca. But the fact they stayed afloat in the match gives enough comfort as we are still on top of the La Liga. Real Madrid who won earlier is one point behind us. Iniesta looked ok in attack apart from that no player were able to make their stamp. Valdes was the best Barca player followed by Puyol and Pique.

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