Barcelona – Valencia: Messi rescues point against dangerous Valencia (2-2)
Barcelona took a risky approach in possession against Valencia’s counterattacking threat, and found themselves 2-0 down just over thirty minutes in. Valencia’s brave possession structure kept Barcelona’s backline busy, hurting them with well-executed quick breaks. A moment of individual quality from Lionel Messi was required - again - to find a way past Valencia’s compact defense.
Tactical analysis and match report by Josh Manley.
February is shaping up to be a big month for Barcelona, as they prepare to face Real Madrid over two legs in the Copa del Rey semi-finals, as well as visiting Lyon in the Champions League round of sixteen. They also travel away to Athletic Bilbao and Sevilla for potentially tricky LaLiga games, looking to retain their title.
With one eye on the midweek Copa del Rey visit of Real Madrid to the Nou Camp, Ernesto Valverde decided to rest Clement Lenglet and Jordi Alba, meaning Thomas Vermaelen stepped into the back four, and Sergi Roberto filled in at left back with Nélson Semedo on the right. Sergio Busquets was serving a suspension, so Ivan Rakitić was required in defensive midfield. Carles Aleñá completed the midfield three alongside Arturo Vidal in Valverde’s 4-3-3 system.
Valencia look like they might struggle to replicate last season’s top four finish, although they came into this game in decent form having won four of their last six in all competitions. Four changes were made from the last league game against Villarreal, with Gabriel Paulista, Toni Lato, Daniel Wass and Kevin Gameiro all being introduced into Marcelino’s 4-4-2 formation.
Valencia's compact and deep 4-4 . . .