Lionel Messi notched his 643rd goal for the Catalan giants on the brink of half-time, scoring in the aftermath of having a penalty saved by Jaume Domenech. The goal triggered hype in social media, but in the end, the individual landmark of Messi was overshadowed.
Ronald Koeman surfaced a team with an attacking intent that contained just one holding midfielder and for which Barca were regularly caught out at the back.
Barca were below-par in the first half, struggling in attack and defense and allowing Valencia to be comfortable with and without the ball and bring plenty of danger on the counter.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen bailing his side out with a good save to deny Carlos Soler.
Valencia played very well and deserved the lead, and they did it thanks to some terrible defending from Barca and a free header for Diakhaby. The visitors created another huge chance through Gomez, but Ter Stegen made a great save. And as Barca looked destined to go into halftime losing, they were given a gift in the form of a Jose Gaya penalty.
The second half was much better for the Catalans.
They mounted the pressure which resulted in a quick goal thanks to a great volley by Ronald Araujo, but Valencia managed to weather the storm, avoid the third goal from Barca, and equalized through Maxi Gomez.
In the final 20 minutes, both teams searched for goals and plenty of action happened at both ends.
There was plenty of attacks and counterattacks, but Valencia halted Barca.
Back-to-back victories had revived Barcelona’s title hopes, but this draw leaves them eight points behind Atletico Madrid – 3-1 win over Elche earlier on Saturday – having played a game more.
Barca had 73 percent of the ball and managed 25 shots – compared to 12 for Valencia – and should have won, but in the end, Valencia fought well.
It might be regarded as a good game for Barcelona because of how they pulled themselves up after a terrible display in the first half; but still, they are not the unit to challenge the might of big teams and prove to be shaky under pressure.
The pressure will now be back on Koeman following this latest disappointing result – the seventh time Barca have failed to take maximum points in 13 league outings this term.
The substitutions of Koeman should be questioned and until now, his ability to maintain the shape of the formation on the pitch remains less satisfactory.
The over-dependency on Messi is still evident and this will not bring anything good for the Catalans in the long run.
Philippe Coutinho is on the decline and despite being given the freedom; he is not able to lift himself up. Perhaps, his days in Barcelona are coming to an end and also, Koeman might have to make an early departure.