After an ecstatic finale, Barcelona deservedly claims some hugely important 3 points, beating a tough Valencia side 1-0 thanks to Robert Lewandowski’s injury-time winner. With that, Xavi’s boys are closing on Real Madrid at the top of the league, just one point behind the Royal Whites.
Barca News Network brings you 4 talking points from the cathartic victory in the Mestalla on the 12th matchday of the season.
1. A game of two halves
Although the stats show a dominant display by the Blaugranas, in fact, it was not so seamless. Despite a positive start and a rather strong first half, where we managed to keep control of the game and create chances, and, eventually score through Ansu Fati – indeed, it was disallowed for offside, and rightfully, though – the second half saw a significant relapse from Xavi’s men.
After half-time, Valencia started to take over the control, aggressively looking for an opener, which eventually arrived – but again, been overruled by VAR, the ball having slightly touched by Marcos André with an unfortunate move before the goal. But as time went on, Barcelona began to grow into the game and dominate in proceedings, but lacked the final touch, until the miracle happened in the dying minutes.
2. Lewandowski the savior
Concretely, the name of this miracle is Robert Lewandowski. The Polish superstar, again, stepped up when it was needed the most, and with an acrobatic move, turned Raphinha’s pinpoint cross into a goal, clinching the victory for the Blaugranas in the 3′ minute of extra time.
With that, Barça’s new number 9 increases his tally to 13 goals in the league, leading the race for the Pichichi trophy by a country mile. In plus, take into account his 5 Champions League goals in 5 games, and we have an incredible total of 18 goals in 17 official games this season, which exceeds the mighty 1 goal per game ratio. No words.
3. Pedri Potter
When talking about amazing individual performances, we shouldn’t forget about Pedri González too. The Canarian prodigy has been continuously at the top of his game this season, and this match was just another casual masterclass from our new number 8.
With silky touches and elegant passes, the little magician always pleases the eyes of the fans, and his smooth dribbles and incisive vision make him able to create out of thin air, while also showcasing his playmaking abilities, pulling the strings behind every attacking move of the Catalans.
That said, he was a lively asset in creating chances and played an essential role in the goal that won the game for us, while his calmness and refined technique helped us retain control in possession. Yesterday, we could catch a glimpse of his tremendous talent again, and we hope to see a lot more from the little wizard, reminiscing to a certain Argentine great…
4. The curse continues to strike
However, we couldn’t leave the Mestalla free from care as we have lost two further players, namely Jules Koundé and Eric García from the center of the defense. The Spaniard was forced to leave the field due to muscle problems, and was replaced by Marcos Alonso in the first half, while the Frenchman suffered a seemingly lighter injury, but was replaced by Piqué to avoid any complications.
These are bad news to the Blaugrana camp, especially knowing that Araújo is out for a long time and Christensen is still not fully recovered yet, and despite all the summer reinforcements in the squad, we only have the veteran Gerard Piqué as the only central defender in the first-team squad. Probably the solution will be shifting Alonso into the left center-back position, where he has already played some games, producing mixed feelings.
All in all, a great victory to recover from a demoralizing defeat suffered from Bayern München in the middle of the week, and boost the team morale when we really need it, ahead of some must-win games before the World Cup starts in the middle of the month.