Monday, October 18, 2010

Barca 2-1 Valencia

In a classic "tale of two halves," on Saturday FC Barcelona came from behind to defeat Valencia 2-1.  In the first half of play, Valencia trotted out a mid-field dominance strategy that effectively stunted Barca's vaunted ball-control offense, denying Xavi and Iniesta any room to work their magic.  Frustrated and looking for a clue, Barca looked flat when in the 38th minuted, Valencia star Pablo caught Pique and Alves out of position, leading to a goal and a 1-nil lead for Valencia.  Valencia's mid-field control in the first half was exceptional, and it was only sheer luck that prevented a second Valencia goal in the 40th minute, when Valdes made a desperate save to keep the score close.

It would be interesting to know what Pep Guardiola told his side during the half, because Barca came out after the break and looked like the all-dominant Blaugrana side we all know and love.  Xavi and Iniesta re-asserted control over the midfield, which almost immediately produced results.  In the 47th minute Xavi played one-two with Iniesta and then calmly slotted the ball past Valencia goalkeeper Cesar for the equalizer, and after that the floodgates opened.  Barca posted shots on goal in the 55th and 59th minutes, and then in the 63rd minute Puyol slammed a header home from a cross by Xavi to put Barca up, 2-1.  In the 65th minute Messi Wan Kenobi had a brilliant shot somehow saved by the defense, and then in the 94th minute he collected a chest ball and put it home, but was ruled offsides.  And that finished the scoring, to give Barca a much-needed and well-deserved come-from-behind win, thus keeping their title defence in La Liga alive and well.

Barca's next match is this coming Wendesday October 20th, when they return to Champion's Leage play against FC Kobenhavn.  If they can win this match-- and they should-- Barca will advance to the next round of play in the Champions Leage.  And thanks to this result against Valencia, Barca is also alive and well in La Liga competition.