Fc Barcelona fought a long and grueling clash against Gennaro Gattuso’s Valencia right down to the wire at the Mestalla and bagged all three points courtesy of an injury-time winner from Robert Lewandowski.
Yet, despite all the hurdles, injury scares, and missed chances, it was the Catalans who would walk away from this game with all 3 points secured thanks to a stoppage time connection starting from Pedri to Raphinha, with the Brazilian then lofting a cheeky through ball to Robert Lewandowski who, as he often does, made no mistake in putting the ball in the back of the net.
Going through the 90 minutes, the game was constantly full of intensive pressures and defense rigidity from both sides, and in retrospect, a lot of flaws were also found in Barcelona’s game today that could be associated right back to the loss against Bayern, where despite the effort to organize something the physicality and cohesion was always lacking. Similarly, in the game against Valencia today, despite their efforts Barcelona were simply left nullified for most of the proceedings, making clear-cut chances to score quite the scarcity today.
Barcelona dominated proceedings when it come to various statistics during the game, ranging from possession to chances creation, as they typically do. The reality is most of these chances did not amount to much of a goal threat in the overview.
Taking 13 shots in total, with only a meager 2 being on target, compared to Valencia’s total of 3 shots and a singular one out of them being on target showcases the wastefulness amongst the Blaugrana ranks. A lot of off-target shots were also there to be seen, which rightly frustrated the visiting fans as well as the coaching staff throughout the game.
In terms of goal generation, Barcelona managed an xG of 1.59 throughout the 90 minutes,
however, they only accumulated an xG of 0.54 in the first half, and it was through the 2nd half that they managed to generate an xG of 1.04.
On the other side of things, Valencia were able to generate a total xG of only 0.21 throughout the 90 minutes, and most of that was the 0.12 generated in the first half, as they were only allowed to generate an xG of 0.09 in the second half courtesy of Barcelona’s ball repossessions and defensive rigidity. The home team also struggled to create chances when they did in fact have possession as well, and when they did manage to get a breakthrough, it was allowed due to a handball just prior to the goal.
La Blaugrana also had a goal by Ansu Fati disallowed for offside, but positively, the young star was consistently testing the Valencia defense throughout the time he was on the field,
particularly with the timing of his runs, as he may have even walked out of this clash with 2
goals to his name on another day.
Moreover, Lewandowski himself came close to putting the Catalans in the lead when he saw a well-timed header strike the post in what would’ve been an assured goal had it been just slightly to the left of where it landed.
There were a couple of injury concerns following the game as well, with both Eric Garcia (groin issue) and Jules Kounde (hamstring discomfort) being seen getting taken off by Xavi to much dismay amongst the Blaugrana’s fanbase. However, Xavi does state in his post-match press conference that it seems like simply a discomfort for the latter and not an injury in itself, which is a positive note to take.
This win now puts the Catalans on top of the table for at least right now, with Spanish arch-rivals Real Madrid set to face off against Girona tomorrow at the Santiago Bernabeu. La Liga now remains the primary priority for Fc Barcelona, and it is a title they will need to carry themselves towards till the very last matchday.