The first of five finals. This Sunday evening, FC Barcelona had to raise their heads in Valencia after their surprise defeat at Camp Nou against Granada (0-1) on Thursday, when they had the opportunity to take control of the championship. The Blaugranas had no other choice but to leave with three points from Mestalla to keep pace with Atlético de Madrid, leader, and Real Madrid, second, both winners on the occasion of this 34th day of La Liga, to hope to win the Spanish championship at the end of the season. To resume his march forward against a team from Valencia far from its usual standards that can still be relegated to the lower echelon, Ronald Koeman, who was serving the first of his two suspension games, aligned his typical team in 3-1- 4-2 with Piqué, Lenglet, Busquets or even the Messi-Griezmann duo in front. For his part, Javi Gracia composed a 5-3-2 to try to resist the Catalan assaults with Paulista, Gayà or even Guedes and Gomez at the forefront.
From the outset, Barça imposed his style and, at the conclusion of a nice collective movement, Pedri missed the frame in the area (3rd). Faced with a grouped block, very low in its half of the field, FC Barcelona monopolized the ball but could not be dangerous in the game and tried his luck on a set piece. On this free kick kicked by Messi, Araujo saw Cillessen push back his weak attempt with his left arm at close range (12th). The che club operated against and obtained its first opportunity after a full-axis breakthrough from Guedes, who served Gaya whose shot fled the frame of ter Stegen (20th). Ronald Koeman’s men then struggled to set the pace in this part against a well-organized formation leaving little space. Neither Messi, whose free kick passed over the goal of his former partner (31st), nor Pedri, too short on this ball in front of the goal (40th), did not manage to relieve the situation before the break.
Messi-Griezmann duo strikes again
When the 22 players returned to the pitch, Valence started very strongly. After a rush from Soler, taking advantage of a climb from Lenglet, Guedes infiltrated the surface but came up against ter Stegen (49th). And on the next corner, Gabriel Paulista extricated himself from Lenglet’s marking, again him, and pushed the ball with a diving header into the empty goal abandoned by ter Stegen, who, embarrassed, could not intervene (1-0, 50th ). What to push Barça to react immediately: on a ball to Frenkie de Jong in the box, Toni Lato was guilty of a hand fault in disaster and offered a logical penalty to Messi (57th). La Pulga, who missed his attempt, saw the ball return to his feet after a rescue on a strike from Pedri and still equalized closely (1-1, 58th). The match was launched more than ever and five minutes later, Griezmann pushed the ball into the net in fox surfaces, after a superb header signed by Jong on a cross from Alba, and gave his team the advantage (1 -2, 63rd).
Valencia were clearly taking a hit in the back of the head. This did not get better when Lionel Messi (author of his 28th goal in La Liga, the 21st in the last 17 games) increased the score with a sumptuous free kick 23m from the goal of Cillessen (1-3, 69th) to seal definitively the fate of this meeting, the golazo of Carlos Soler not changing the outcome of this part (2-3, 83rd). Mission accomplished for FC Barcelona (3rd, 74 points) which, thanks to this precious success (3-1), 11th in its last 12 trips, reunites with Real Madrid and returns to two units of the leader, Atlético de Madrid . A result which has something to make even more exciting the 35th day of La Liga, which will see the first four of the championship compete (Barça will receive the Colchoneros while the Merengues will host Sevilla). For its part, Valencia (14th, 36 points) goes on to a 6th game without a win. The che club, whose last success dates back to March 21, will have to fight until the end of this 2020-2021 exercise if it wishes to remain in the elite of Iberian football.
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