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Deportivo La Coruña
September 2, 2012
• Camp Nou, Barcelona
Referee: Miguel Pérez Lasa
• Attendance: 76352
Adriano Correia 23'
Thanks for your contributions this evening, much appreciated. Tom Woods over and out. See you next time.
Final whistle! Well that was anything but comfortable for Barcelona. In the end, it took a wondergoal from Adriano to separate the sides, but Valencia will feel so hard done by to have played so well and come away with nothing. Victor Ruiz scored one goal that should have been given, and missed an absolute sitter right at the end. It ends Barcelona 1-0 Valencia.
90' + 2'
Fantastic from Messi. With the crowd whistling furiously for full-time, the Argentine carries the ball over 50 yards, taking five or six men with him. Precious seconds eaten up.
90' + 1'
JONAS! What a goal that would have been, as the Brazilian sends a dipping volley at goal from way out. Valdes is scrambling, but it's just over. Huge sigh of relief around Camp Nou.
...RUIZ! That is a huge chance. Valdes was nowhere, and the centre back meets the kick with a free header, under the crossbar. The net should have bulged, no question.
Another corner to Valencia...
Yellow Card Adil Rami
This is neat from Barcelona, with Alex Song and Xavi side-stepping challenges to keep the team moving forward. Xavi fancies a go from 30 yards, but sees his shot slam into the first man.
Sergio Busquets is coming on for the Blaugrana, replacing Alexis. They may need another cool head in midfield here.
...close, but scrambled away by Adriano. Barca hang on.
Alex Song dives to intercept Soldado's through-ball to Valdez. Corner Valencia...
Five minutes to go. Bit of a nail-biter all of a sudden isn't it?
It might not be going in for Messi tonight. He skips through a crowd of bodies, but his placed shot it blocked by Cissokho, with Tino Costa on hand to clear the danger. The defending from Valencia really has been excellent.
Valencia are going to throw as many long balls as they can muster, mostly through Tino Costa by the looks of it. The latest effort finds Rami making a run forward, but his effort loops up into the arms of Victor Valdes.
... but the kick doesn't clear the wall. Meanwhile for Valencia Nelson Valdez, the Paraguayan striker on loan from Rubin Kazan, has come on for Sofiane Feghouli.
Lionel Messi goes on the rampage, and Rami cynically fouls him right on the edge of the box, dead centre...
There are ten minutes to go here, and I fancy there may be one further twist to come...
Alexis and Jordi Alba combine neatly down the left, but Valencia are able to deal with the cross comfortably. Wonder if David Villa might add that telling presence inside the box?
Jose Andrés Guardado
Valencia make a change, as Andres Guardado is replaced by Jonathan Viera, newly arrived from Las Palmas. Looks a like-for-like swap from Pellegrino there.
Mascherano does very well to head another Tino Costa free-kick away from Jonas. Barca are having to defend very, very well here to keep Los Che at bay.
Tito Vilanova looks on from the stands, typically nonplussed. But I bet he would be sitting more comfortably if his side could find a second goal...
Lionel Messi is not having one of his more imperious nights. Every time the no.10 receives the ball, he is surrounded by two of three white shirts. Even he is going to lose the ball more often than not in those situations.
Messi attempts to burrow his way through three Valencia defenders, but is crowded out. The ball is immediately played forward, and Mascherano can't deal with Soldado's presence. Pique is forced into a heavy back-pass to Victor Valdes, who clears. After his recent incident against Madrid on this ground, he won't want to receive too many of those.
Alexis has had a bright second half, and absolutely does Adil Rami with an exquisite drop of the shoulder. See ya.
Their current tactic may be to wear Valencia down. Twice inside the last few minutes, Los Che have been forced back to their own keeper when looking to build an attack. You can't overemphasise how exhausting that is.
Superb standing tackle from Xavi, winning the ball from Guardado and then turning him with a back-heel deep inside his own half. Barca come pouring forward again. The spark is coming back into the Catalans...
Valencia have retreated to their own half just for the time being, but the combination of Rami and Ruiz is standing up well to the lofted through balls that Messi is currently attempting. Could go either way, this.
Yellow Card Albelda
Andrés Iniesta Luján
It's Cesc Fabregas who will come off, paying the price for those earlier misses. If there was ever an attacking spark to bring off the bench, this is it.
Ah, they heard me. Andres Iniesta is stripped and ready to come on...
Well, Valencia look stunned with that, and none of the officials are offering much of an explanation. But one thing is clear. Barca are going to have to improve if they are going to hold on to this lead.
...GOOOAA... NO! Victor Ruiz gets a toe onto Tino Costa's free-kick and pokes it beyond Victor Valdes, but it's been ruled out! What for, I don't know. The defender was clearly onside and I didn't see a push. Lucky escape for Barca.
Valencia win a dangerous free-kick on the right-wing...
Great hit from Adriano again, but this time, it's straight at Diego Alves. Might be too much to expect two screamers in one evening from the Brazilian.
Nothing in that for Barca. The Valencia defence is standing up very well here, forcing the Catalans to pull out their full range of tricks in order to find an opening.
Fabregas is looking to make amends here, and has just forced Rami into a diving challenge that concedes a corner.
Fabregas again! Alexis makes absolute mincemeat of Ruiz, turning the defender three or four times before teeing up Cesc with what looks like a tap in. He leans back and skies it. Are Barca going to regret these missed chances?
It's Valencia's turn to test their opponents on the flank, and Sofiane Feghouli is taking every opportunity to fire crosses into the box. This is a real test for Barca at the minute.
...headed up and away by Mascherano. Barcelona break with typical pace, but the back-heel from Alexis can only find Rami.
That man Adriano intercepts another dangerous cross to concede a corner to Valencia...
A change at half-time to bring you by the way. Jordi Alba is on to face his old club, replacing Dani Alves. He will slot in at left-back, while Adriano moves over to the right.
And now we have defending of the last ditch variety from Dani Alves. Victor Ruiz was so close to connecting with Soldado's knock-down, but the Brazilian defender sticks out a long leg to just nudge the ball away. Interesting start from Los Che.
Almost a wonderful reply from Valencia. Soldado wins another long ball before letting Joao Pereira take over. The right-back finds Jonas on the edge of the box, who shapes to bend one into the top corner, and Mascherano has to make an excellent block.
Barcelona get us back underway...
Twitter, you are on my wavelength tonight. I agree with you on everything so far. But it's nearly time for the second half, so let's see what Camp Nou has in store for us shall we?
@Khaledsaifi "Messi finding it difficult today, but if he scores a goal it will open the door for many more..."
Diego Alves has certainly looked the business tonight. Nothing he could do about that Adriano strike. If he can keep his defence organised, Valencia definitely stand a chance on the break.
@ajand1 "Don't think Valencia can contain Barca. I expect messi to continue his goalscoring form. Barca to win 4-0..."
@RabeaMakhoul "It's only a matter of time until Diego Alves cements his place as the undisputed starter for Brazil, what an impeccable goalkeeper"
Meanwhile on Twitter...
The corner leads to another Messi chance, which is deflected away, but that's the last action of the half. At times, it's been irresistible from Barcelona, but they only have the one goal to show for it so far. Valencia have shown more than enough to suggest they can get back into this, if they can keep riding their luck in defence. Don't go anywhere.
45' + 1'
Messi takes on Guardado, then Cissokho, and is fouled. The free-kick is played towards Alex Song at the back post, but Diego Alves makes a flying punch to concede a corner...
That was Valencia's best spell by a stretch. Los Che elect for the patient build up, and are almost rewarded as Joao Pereira breaks for the byeline, before over-hitting his final ball. So frustrating for the visitors, who still carry plenty of threat here.
Valencia just can't get into the box. Another promising break comes to nothing as they hit a blue and red wall about 30 yards out. And back into their half they go...
This is relentless pressure from Barca. Dani Alves is having an absolute ball on the right wing, and keeps on finding his teammates in dangerous positions inside the box. Valencia are just about holding out, but how long can it possibly continue?
...bit of a waste there. The ball drops for Sofiane Feghouli, but the Algerian shoots wildly over the top after surging into a good position. Soldado was well placed in the middle, and looks distinctly unimpressed.
Guardado is brought down by Mascherano, and Valencia have a chance to find Soldado with this free-kick...
Lionel Messi has had a deceptively quiet game so far, but when he picks up the ball he floats past challenges from all sides. His latest surge forward draws a foul from Albelda and a cheap free kick for his side.
Gerard Pique needs to be careful here. He has put in a couple of heavy aerial challenges on Jonas and Soldado in the last few minutes, and the referee is aware of it. Any more like that, and Barca could be down to ten men.
In the face of this Barcelona storm, it's easy to forget how good Valencia can be on the ball. They offer a brief reminder as Cissokho escapes down the left and sends over an inviting cross that just evades Sofiane Feghouli. A reminder for Barca that this game isn't won yet.
Yellow Card Jose Andrés Guardado
What a welcome to the league Joao Pereira and Aly Cissokho are having. Barcelona are finding their wide men with alarming regularity, giving Valencia's new full-backs an absolutely torrid time. Dani Alves is the latest to go close, drilling a low ball across goal that just evades a blue and red shirt.
Andres Guardado fails to retreat from a Xavi free-kick, and earns a totally needless booking. Silly from the Mexican.
FABREGAS! How did he miss? A fantastic move should have produced the second goal, as the former Arsenal man is played into space and has all the time in the world to pick his spot. He elects for the delicate chip, and hits the outside of the post. Big let off for Valencia.
This is an absolutely brilliant match. Some scintillating attacking from Barcelona, but Valencia are by no means finished yet...
Assist Lionel Messi
GOOOAAALLLL! What a hit from Adriano. The corner is played short to the left-back, and he finds an inch of space on the corner of the box. Then bang. A right-foot strike into the top corner. Super goal. Barca into a deserved lead.
Nearly 2-0, as Pedro escapes inside the box and forces another smart save from Diego Alves. He was on the stretch as he hit it, which reduced some of the power in truth.
This is delightful from Barcelona, switching the ball from flank to flank with such precision. Messi hits a shot, and it's deflected behind for a corner...
Diego Alves is beginning to enjoy this. The Valencia keeper comes sliding out to collect Xavi's pass, and sends Alexis Sanchez flying in the process. Purely an accident, of course. But fun.
Good save! No mistake with the header this time. Messi meets Dani Alves' cross with a bullet, and Diego Alves is at full stretch to push the ball away. Barca are knocking on the door.
More patient passing from Barca, and Adriano attempts to pick out Fabregas inside the area, but Adil Rami is across quickly to chest the ball away and clear. Good sweeping up there from the Frenchman.
Alexis and Adriano combine down the left and the Brazilian's cross falls invitingly for Lionel Messi, but he makes a hash of his header from 12 yards out. Looked a good opening too.
What an outlet Soldado is. Valencia have a clear intention to hit their no.9 with long balls, but he is winning everything in the air so far. The newly-booked Gerard Pique has a lot on his plate tonight.
Yellow Card Piqué
Gerard Pique jumps unfairly against Jonas, and earns the first booking of the night from Miguel Perez Lasa.
Some goalkeeping theatrics from Diego Alves, who comes flying out of his area to clear Alex Song's long pass with a diving header. It looked good, but Messi was inches away from intercepting. And then he would have looked a buffoon.
SOLDADO! Almost a moment of magic from the Valencia forward. After killing a long ball stone dead, he easily steps inside Pique and curls a delightful effort towards the top corner. It's just wide, but Victor Valdes was nowhere.
Alves has the ball again, this time catching a cross-come-shot from his namesake Dani Alves. Not quite sure what he was trying to do there.
Victor Ruiz didn't fare so well against the winger however, as Alexis beats him easily before firing at goal from a tight angle. Diego Alves is alive to the danger and makes a comfortable save.
Aly Cissokho will be up against Alexis Sanchez tonight, and the former Lyon man has just won a straight sprint with the Chilean to intercept Fabregas' through ball. Promising signs for the defender.
Valencia are working very hard to disrupt Barca's rhythm in these early stages, and have been able to keep the Catalans away from their penalty area thus far. How long that lasts is anyone's guess.
Alex Song's first contribution of the game is a crunching tackle from behind on Jonas, conceding a free-kick. Arsenal fans give a knowing smile.
Ah there we go. Guardado wins it and attempts to break forward, but Dani Alves puts a stop to that with a crunching tackle. As you were.
Typical Barcelona start, absolutely dominating the ball. I'm not sure Valencia have seen it since kick-off.
Hopefully the answer to that question was yes, because Lasa has just blown his whistle and Valencia have got the ball rolling.
Here come the teams, played in by that familiar Barcelona anthem. At the head of the group is tonight’s referee, Miguel Perez Lasa. Who’s ready?
So is it time for Barcelona strike back? Or can Valencia repeat their heroics of week one? All predictions welcome, get them over to @woodstome.
VALENCIA LINEUP (4-2-3-1): Alves; Pereira, Rami, Ruiz, Cissokho; Albelda, Tino Costa; Feghouli, Jonas, Guardado; Soldado Bench: Guaita, Barragan, Parejo, Gago, Viera, Piatti, Valdez
BARCELONA LINEUP: (4-3-3): Valdes; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Adriano; Song, Xavi, Fabregas; Pedro, Messi, Alexis Bench: Pinto, Bartra, Alba, Busquets, Iniesta, Tello, Villa
Valencia are without the suspended Ricardo Costa, so into defence comes Frenchman Adil Rami, while new signing Aly Cissokho makes his debut at left-back. Captain David Albelda makes his first start of the season at holding midfield, while Mexican winger Andres Guardado will look to support Jonas and Roberto Soldado in attack.
Barcelona, bereft of their coach tonight, are without defensive stalwart Carles Puyol through injury, but Dani Alves is declared fit to return after missing the Clasico in midweek. Adriano, who was sent off during that defeat to Madrid, continues at left-back ahead of former Valencia man Jordi Alba. Elsewhere, Alex Song makes his debut at holding midfield, Cesc Fabregas is preferred to Andres Iniesta, and Lionel Messi will look to continue a ridiculous run that has seen him score in every game he’s played so far this season.
Time for some TEAM NEWS, I think.
Of course, lightning rarely strikes twice, and it’s also worth pointing out that Los Che have failed to beat Barca in their last 11 meetings. After then throwing away a two-goal advantage against Deportivo, Valencia showed that they have plenty of frailties of their own. So perhaps the chances are slim. But they are there all the same.
Valencia, of course, have already shown their opponents how to play in Madrid, after picking up a 1-1 draw at Santiago Bernabeu on the first weekend of the season. Travelling to Real Madrid then Barcelona in your first three games is a pretty good definition of a nightmare start, but Mauricio Pellegrino’s side will still harbour hopes of springing a surprise here. If Barcelona defend the way they did last time out, then I’d say the visitors have a decent chance.
Something very strange happened during the week. Barcelona, a full-strength Barcelona, were the second best side on a football pitch. At times, by quite a distance. After losing the Supercopa to Real Madrid, albeit on away goals, some serious questions will be asked of new coach Tito Vilanova’s resolve. Those questions will not be answered tonight, as the manager serves a touchline ban. But for his players, the message will be loud and clear. Go out there and prove that nobody de-thrones the Blaugrana and gets away with it.
I’m Tom Woods, your source for all things Catalan over the next two hours. Would be lovely to hear from you along the way, so for anything you’d like to add to tonight’s proceedings, whack it over to me on Twitter via @woodstome.
Evening all. Welcome to Goal.com and to Camp Nou. Lovely weekend of football so far, but we’re not done yet. Not by a long shot. Barcelona-Valencia is on its way, and promises to be an absolute thriller. I (almost) guarantee it.
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