Valencia – Barcelona: Messi Brace Beats Out Bats To Maintain Title Challenge (2-3)
Failing to seize the initiative in mid-week, Barcelona came into this game looking to get back to winning ways. A lack of final third incision in the first half and a well-worked set-piece in the second put the team on course to drop points again. But the star names showed their worth once more, coming in clutch to seal a precious victory.
Tactical analysis and match report by Emmanuel Adeyemi-Abere.
This season has been one to forget for Valencia. Amid mass turbulence off the field, this decimated outfit has struggled for consistency, still searching for their first win since the end of the international break. Now sitting just six points above the bottom three with five games left to play, an unlikely result here would go a long way to ensuring top-flight status for another year.
Barcelona were hoping to get the show back on the road in their bid for the league title. Laboring over the line to edge past Villarreal, a mid-week win against Granada would have put the guests top of the table. But a shock 2-1 loss left the Catalans in third place, frustrated at their failure to seize the golden ticket to the summit. Now the three points were vital as they could not allow for any more mistakes.
Javi Gracia set up the hosts in a 5-3-2 system, looking for stability off the ball. Three players came into the side after drawing last time out to Alavés. Jasper Cillessen replaced Jaume Doménech in goal, while . . .