Friday, March 4, 2011

Barca over Valencia 1 - 0

In the most anticipated match of the season since El Clasico, this week FC Barcelona travelled to the Mestalla to take on Valencia, currently the third place team behind Real Madrid and Barca.  Adding to the anticipation of the match, was the fact that this encounter marked the return of former Valencia star David Villa to this former home stadium, as well as the fact that both defender Carles Puyol and keeper Victor Valdes were out of the lineup, giving the talented Valencia side some hope.

Employing an odd yet effective 3-5-2 formation, Pep Guardiola's side played evenly for much of the first half aginst Valencia, with the home side having a go-ahead goal dissallowed for offsides which would have certainly shifted the match in Valencia's favor.  After that, Barca began to assert itself, with Lionel Messi missing several close chances.  After the exciting but scoreless first half, the only goal of the match came in the 77th minute, when Barca built up a thorough stream of one-touch passes, allowing Adriano to send a pretty crossing ball over to Messi, who put it into the bottom left corner despite Valencia keeper Guaita getting a hand to it.  With that, the life went out of Valencia, and the match ended with a 1- Nil Barcelona victory.

It was a difficult victory over a talented side, as reflected by the fact that Barcelona maintained only 57% of possession, instead of the 70% or better which usually characterizes their games.  FC Barcelona returns home to Camp Nou on Saturday March 5 for what will likely be a much easier match against Real Zaragoza.