Barcelona nearly managed to hold on to their hopes of a twenty seventh La Liga title, as they secured all three factors in an especially hard-fought 3-2 victory over Valencia on the Mestella. They managed to beat Los Che at their floor for the primary time since 2016 when the Catalans gained with the very same scoreline.
After the extremely disappointing defeat to Granada in midweek, the Blaugrana bounced again within the good method to realize a vital victory. On the similar time, they themselves attempt to win each certainly one of their 4 remaining fixtures.
After a string of missed probabilities in a goalless first half, Valencia took an sudden lead by Gabriel Paulista after some dreadful defending from Barcelona from a nook. Nevertheless, Lionel Messi equalised after the ball, happily, fell to him after a missed penalty earlier than Antoine Griezmann made it 2-1. Messi himself then scored the third with an excellent free-kick.
Whereas it was not essentially the most convincing of shows from the Catalans, it was sufficient to maintain them within the operating for the league title. The facet confirmed nice character to return again from a objective’s deficit in opposition to such a difficult opponent away from dwelling. Listed below are three takeaways from the conflict.
1. Messi and Griezmann proceed to fireside
The Argentine and the Frenchman have lastly begun to gel with deadly impact. After a faltering begin to their partnership, Ronald Koeman’s new setup with the 2 forwards taking part in alongside one another has not solely helped their understanding however has additionally improved every one’s particular person output. When it comes to objective contributions, Messi and Griezmann stay essentially the most proficient duo in La Liga.
Lionel Messi’s brace now sees him lead the La Liga high scorer charts by seven objectives, as he scored his twenty seventh and twenty eighth objectives of the marketing campaign in opposition to Valencia. The latter was a fully beautiful free-kick, which now imply’s the Argentine has scored extra free-kicks than penalties because the 2018/19 season.
Griezmann, in the meantime, continues his redemption story as he discovered himself in the appropriate place on the proper time at hand Barcelona the lead and seize his twelfth league objective of the season. His pairing with Messi now appears extra natural, as the 2 have gotten a significantly better learn on one another’s actions.
This was obvious in opposition to Valencia as Messi and Griezmann performed a number of slick one-twos and acquired one another out of tight areas with their intelligent runs. They now not really feel congested collectively even once they occupy comparable areas. With 56 objective contributions between them within the league alone, the 2 are forming an exquisite partnership in a system with no pure striker.
2. Lenglet can’t shake off his defensive woes
Whereas he has loved an excellent patch of kind these days, Clement Lenglet simply doesn’t appear to be at his composed greatest anymore. His errors on the again proceed to pile up and infrequently the top up costing Barcelona dearly. He simply can’t appear to shake off his misfortunes, as each set of excellent performances is adopted by the odd comical mistake that has dire penalties.
Granted, that in Valencia’s opener on Sunday, goalkeeper Marc Andre Ter Stegen might need been extra at fault. Nevertheless, as Gabriel Paulista met Carlos Soler’s inswinging nook, Lenglet was seen on his knees, struggling behind the Brazilian, leaving him to go the ball freely into an open web.
Though his distribution has at all times been a redeeming issue of kinds, in opposition to Los Che, he made some very comical choices with the ball at his ft. Easy clearances went out of play and he couldn’t launch his teammates once they had acres of house to run into. One has to wonder if that is misfortune, a foul patch, or only a common lack of competence.
3. Frenkie de Jong stays imperious as ever
The Dutchman has been completely flying this season underneath Ronald Koeman. Since his switch from Ajax, he has been deployed in a plethora of roles, however he acknowledged a number of occasions that he hasn’t been taking part in in his greatest place. And certainly, as soon as Frenkie de Jong acquired the liberty he wanted to maneuver up and down the sphere, he has struck a wealthy vein of kind.
Towards the house facet final evening, he was close to flawless as soon as once more. Unbelievable along with his ball development and distribution, with a 91% cross success fee. Tireless as ever, he coated each blade of grass whereas urgent and recovering up till the ultimate whistle.
The Dutchman’s late-arriving runs into the field have been a cornerstone of his unbelievable evolution this season. And that aspect of his recreation proved to be a revelation as soon as once more final evening. Jordi Alba’s floated cross into the field discovered De Jong, who had made a sensational run into the field and leapt to fulfill the ball. His header was properly struck and compelled Jasper Cillessen right into a save, however the rebound fell kindly for Griezmann and the Frenchman slotted it dwelling at hand Barcelona the essential benefit on the Mestella.
One other great exhibiting from the Dutchman, who actually needs to be among the many contenders for Barcelona’s participant of the season. His run of kind can be essential within the 4 remaining video games of the season.
Though Barcelona nonetheless depend upon their rivals to drop factors even when they win all of their remaining ties, there isn’t any scope to let up. The margin for error has dwindled to nothingness, as the main target now turns to matchweek 35. Essentially the most enthralling title race in La Liga’s latest historical past will see all 4 title contenders go head-to-head on the identical weekend.
Barcelona will face leaders Atletico Madrid, whereas Actual Madrid tackle Sevilla in what guarantees to be maybe essentially the most thrilling spherical of fixtures up to now this season. Whereas the Garnet and Blue’s title hopes have been severely dented, there may be hope but, after this very important win away to Valencia.