After the setback against Granada, it was time for Lionel Messi and Barcelona to travel at the venue named Mestalla, where winning a game against the home side – Valencia is one of the toughest tasks. Be it in the top European competitions or in La Liga or Copa del Rey – Valencia simply choke the life out of the opposition at Mestalla and Barcelona experienced the same until Messi lifted his boys up.

Barcelona found the going tough in the first half and scoring goals lacked the luck and finishing touch, but after the break who else but Messi rose to the occasion and saved the night for the Catalans.

The starting XI for the suspended coach Ronald Koeman saw Pedri and Sergino Dest return to the squad, while Oscar Mingueza was rested, giving Ronald Araujo a start.

Barcelona had two golden opportunities to score in the first quarter of an hour – first on a Pedri shot that flashed wide after the slick build-up, followed by an Araujo chance off a Messi free-kick that former Jasper Cillessen managed to save.

At the other end, Uros Racic should have done much better when he latched onto a shot from outside the area after a cutback pass from Jose Gaya.

Valencia were dangerous on the counterattack and they almost broke through after a goalless first half when Guedes was played in, but he could not beat Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

However, the subsequent corner kick proved fruitful as a slight slip from Ter Stegen permitted Gabriel Paulista to squirt free and head into the goal for a 1-0 Valencia lead.

A blow for Barca and the drama was unfolding.

The visitors would get a slice of luck when an Antonio Lato handball resulted in a penalty.

Mesi took a poor spot-kick which was blocked by Cillessen, but Busquets pounced first on the rebound and eventually, Messi was able to clean things up to pull his side level.

The goal was a big lift for Barcelona and soon enough they had a lead when an inch-perfect cross from Jordi Alba found the late-charging Frenkie de Jong, whose initial header was blocked, but Griezmann swooped in to score the rebound.

Then Messi produced a moment of magic when he curled the ball over the Valencia wall and banked it in off the post for a 3-1 Barcelona lead.

Valencia weren’t about to go away, though, and a sensational strike from distance from Carlos Soler pulled Los Che back to make for a grandstand finish at Mestalla.

There were some nervy moments for the Barcelona defence in the final minutes, but in the end, they managed to hang on to collect a crucial three points and keep alive in the title race.

“We have won a game after the unexpected defeat [vs Granada] to continue fighting until the end,” Pique told Movistar.

“We are still there in the fight. We are there, that was the goal.”

“We would like to be able to close the games earlier, they are dynamics and things that could happen. You have to analyze goal by goal, they shoot us less, but the problem is that all those shots go inside. Thursday’s defeat did a lot of damage, but winning against Villarreal and Valencia gives us confidence.”

“We prepare us for the Atletico Madrid game with the only idea of winning. It’s in our hands. We have to win, there’s no other option.”


This victory has made the clash against the leaders Atletico Madrid next week a mouthwatering prospect.

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