Lionel Messi scored a match-saving brace as Barcelona snached a point off a determined Valencia at Camp Nou on Saturday night. Valencia silenced Camp Nou with two goals in the first half, but Messi, as always, came to his side’s rescue and scored on either side of the half-time to salvage a point.
Here are three things we learned from Barcelona’s 2-2 draw with Valencia in La Liga.
3. Valencia’s Brilliant Start
Marcelino’s Valencia came to Camp Nou with a clear plan — go out and put pressure on the league leaders. In the opening half an hour, they harrowed and hassled Barcelona off the ball, and eventually got the reward they deserved. Rodrigo Moreno’s pinpoint pass found Kevin Gameiro inside the area, who made no mistake putting the ball past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Their tempo dropped a bit after the opener, but they still got an opportunity to double their advantage from the spot just seven minutes later; which Dani Parejo converted to send the away fans into a frenzy.
2. Messi Saves the Day
Valencia’s explosive start rattled Barcelona and they found themselves out of answers. The Blaugrana skipper also took a bit of time to find his feet, but once again came up with the decisive goals.
In the first half, he converted from the spot to pull Barcelona back into the tie after Nelson Semedo was fouled inside the area. The Argentine’s second goal reflected his quality, as he curled the ball home from 20 yards to restore parity for his side in the 64th minute.
1. Warning Signs for Valverde
Valencia were almost untouchable in the first half, true, but the league leaders should have done a better job in keeping the visitors in check. The away side ran circles around their lofty rivals in the opening 30 minutes, and had it not been for Messi’s genius, they probably wouldn’t have been able to get anything out of last night’s tie.
Barcelona coach, Ernesto Valverde, is lucky to have a player of Messi’s calibre at his disposal, but he can’t possibly count on him every single matchday. The Catalan outfit need to learn to cope without their talisman, and soon.