Barcelona – Valencia Liveblog

A huge match today against Valencia before the international break. Vilanova said in his press conference the team needs to concede less – and it would be nice to keep the first clean sheet in official games during the Vilanova era. Other than that, it’d be great to see Villa score a goal against his old team (or really see anyone other than Messi score a goal).

Starting XI: Valdés, Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Adriano, Song, Xavi, Fabregas, Pedro, Messi, Sanchez

Bench: Pinto, Bartra, Alba, Busquets, Iniesta, Tello, Villa


Montoya, Fontas, Dos Santos, and Thiago will watch from the stands


Match starts at 21:30 Barcelona time / 3:30 PM EST and the liveblog will start 5-10 minutes before that


  1. From Twitter:
    Barça lineup: Valdés; Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Alba; SONG; Xavi, Iniesta; Pedro, Messi, Tello. #fcblive

    1. Barcelona line-up (official): Valdes – Alves Pique Mascherano Adriano – Xavi Song Cesc – Pedro Messi Alexis

    1. He looks good. but his positioning has to improve..He is still not as disciplined as Busquets..But I can see what he can bring to the team. Strength and height. Seems like Xavi is targeting him on set-pieces and corner kicks..

    2. In defense, Song’s positioning is fine but when we are in possession he doesn’t move into space well yet. It will come with experience.

  2. That was sort of an ugly win. I’m starting to doubt our strikers’ ability to score goals.
    Positives: Everyone except our strike force.

  3. This was the kind of game Barcelona would drop points from last season. Just like the game against Osasuna. I’ll take that as a good thing, even if they really should have killed off the game.

    Alexis Sanchez took a lot of grief (deservedly) for his past couple of games. But he was very good today, the best player in the attack, even ahead of Pedro.

    On the down side, Messi seemed distracted most of the game, and Cesc needs to find his bliss. Somewhere.

    I like Song’s lateral range in defense. He covers the flanks better than Busquets. The defense looked great in the first half.

    But things went pear shaped in the second half after Alves had to be substituted, and Adriano went to the right. I can’t believe that Montoya was once again left off the bench. And this time, the team *knew* that Alves was in iffy shape. So, no excuses.

    1. Alexis was finally beating his man this game – that’s what we want to see. However, we would also like to see him as a goal-scoring threat, which he was last season but he is neither consistently getting in position to shoot nor shooting when he is in one.

      Add to that the fact that Messi was sleepwalking today and we were effectively playing without strikers. Against a well organized 2-banks-of-4 defense, this is guaranteed to cause problems.

      Cesc’s case is a mystery – typically players struggle initially when they join the club, then gradually pick it up as they learn the system. He started firing, then something happened and he hasn’t been the same – misplaced passes, lack of confidence in possession, the runs behind the defense from deep that resulted in so many goals last season (mostly after Messi assists) are nowhere to be seen. What happened???

      Alves’ substitution was indeed what changed things – even half fit – in the last 20 minutes of the first half we seemed to be finally breaking them open, but we missed several good chances, and then in the second half we created none…

    2. I agree that Sanchez had a good game. I really like what Song brought to the team. I feel confident with him in the box for defense on corner kicks and free kicks. Busi gives me no confidence at all. I still can’t believe we keep getting beat on the back post on free kicks and corners. Luckily, it was an offside call this time. I find it hard to criticize Messi for being absent. He was quadruple marked the entire game and had no space up front because there were no runs behind the defense from Sanchez or Pedro. When Iniesta came on that opened up space. I saw Villa warming up and I thought he would have made a difference, but he never made it into the game.

  4. Quick Comments:

    On the plus side : Alex Song looked very impressive and played well , I liked the way Adraino recovered from the Supercopa , Xavi was instrumental and Pedro was self sacrificing as usual .

    Am I the only one noticing that Messi is becoming more and more selfish ? , and I think the number of shots Alexis took at goal since the start of the season is an embarrassment . He should aim more at goal and take more chances at dribbling rather the casual back pass.

    1. I don’t think Messi was selfish. He was marked tightly for the entire game, but I don’t think he’s at 100% fitness level. Messi gave Cesc a perfect shot at goal earlier but it hit the post. Diego Alves is our voodoo doll :/

    2. I kinda thought Messi played a deeper role and passed the ball off a couple of times when he could have gone for goal himself but I kinda understand your feeling…

    3. I am not sure about Messi being selfish..but he seemed reluctant to pass to Pedro today. preferred Alexis or Alves, else went solo.

    4. Messi selfish? I think all great goal scorers are to an extent. There were a couple of runs he made where he could’ve made a pass to the flank, but he also drew fouls and got a free kick right on the edge of the box. As messifan said, he was marked by 2,3,4 players at a time and neither Alexis or Pedro made much space for him by getting behind the defense. He was stranded in the middle unless he dropped deeper to get the ball and then he had 8 men waiting for him. Can’t do much with that.

  5. Was impressed with how well Song fit in. Wrote an article about him fitting Tito’s system, but maybe not Pep’s a couple weeks ago that went largely unnoticed.

    /end shameless self plug

    What I didn’t mention though is how his mobility and ability to cover a large part of the pitch will be very helpful in Tito’s system when we are losing the ball a bit more often than in Pep’s system. That said I’d still take Busquets over him – would be interesting to see them on the pitch together…

    My only nitpicky thing to mention is that he didn’t position himself really well right after we won the ball. He was often hiding behind a defender or positioned too near a defender. That will come in time and it would’ve been surprising if there was nothing he didn’t do very well already.

  6. Cesc Fabergas.
    – The guy with Barca DNA.
    – The onw who supposedly could play, Xavi or Inesta or even Busquets role.
    – The one who would fit seamlessly into our system.

    What happened? I dont understand. Most of the time he seems confused, like he has no clue what his position is. Pep and Tito in fact are tweaking the system to accommodate Cesc, rather than the other way around. I know it is too early but it seems Alexis, Alba and even Song seem to have integrated into the system more than Cesc.

    1. Mutation at Arsenal changed his DNA structure 😛

      Honestly, I have know idea what’s going on with his head. Gonna keep telling myself it’s still early in the season, he will adjust.

  7. This brand of liveblog just doesn’t work for me. Boo.

    We actually played really well today. Adriano, Xavi, Song, Pedro, Alexis all had excellent matches. Masche & Pique were solid. Alba & Iniesta were both great when they came on. Messi was marked so tightly he couldn’t do very much, but his very presence drew defenders away from Pedro & Alexis and gave them tons of space. Cesc should have done better with his chances, but overall was much better than he has been.

    It would have been nice to see Villa, but I think Jordi Roura made the right choice bringing Busquets on for added strength at the back. We conceded too many set pieces as usual, and Busi was more useful under the circumstances.

    Overall I am happy with the whole team’s performance. Valencia are always a difficult team to play. We got the three points and still have a 5-point lead over RM!

  8. I thought the team looked very impressive today, except lacking some sharpness/awareness in and around the area. That should come soon enough but the build up play was really good today.

  9. Apart from the two missed opportunities, Cesc had a good game, imo. This further underlines my belief that he plays his best in the 4-3-3 with Xavi as his midfield partner, not Iniesta.

    The overall play was pretty good. Offense, however, needs to improve. Movement was non existent in the second half but I put that down to tiredness from the midweek match playing with 10 men. And the forwards need to finish their chances/ take more shots instead of looking to pass to Messi (who was surrounded by 5 guys for most of the game)..this applies to Alexis! Pedro! was great as usual. Unlucky not to score.

    Song really impressed me. He was pretty much everywhere.
    Adriano was great in the first half as well, not to mention his golazo! He was always way better at LB than at RB.

  10. I was happy enough with the match for the first 60mins or so.
    Valdes had very little to do for the match.
    The back four looked better even if we were pushed back more in the second half.
    Song was composed in midfield and made a few interceptions. When we were in possession he didn’t position himself well but was good other than that.
    Cesc was much better today than recently, it was just a pity he didn’t get his name on the score sheet.
    Messi would have fitted in well on The Walking Dead for portions of the match. He made poor decisions on too many occasions and was very selfish.
    Alexis was one of our best players today but he was too hesitant to shoot. A couple of times he beat a player or cut inside onto his right foot but then just passed the ball backwards.
    Pedro was good again.

    A decent showing all in all…

  11. I’m not understanding the Messi was “selfish” stuff being said. I can remember 1 time he made a deeeeeep run attacking 4 or 5 players and either Pedro or Alexis was on his right. He could’ve passed it, but kept making the run trying to bring in the defender closer to him and further away from Pedro/Alexis. He was chopped down at the edge of the box and we received a free kick. What more can you ask. He was quadruple marked the ENTIRE game. Valencia played 8-9 behind the ball and in a 4-4 formation in the box the entire game. Alexis and Pedro made no runs behind the defense to open up that space for Messi to get behind them. That said, they didn’t get much service to make those runs because Xavi was playing a deeper roll and Cesc, well, Cesc didn’t provide anything in MHO. Messi could’ve been a lot more ball hoggish in MHO. He’s smart though. He’s not going to try to create “magic” every time he touches it and there are 8 to 10 defenders in front of him. Valencia played well. They had a very compact defense that was in sync and helping each other out. I was impressed. I hope they play that well against EE! 🙂

    1. They did play that well against EE! They very nearly took all 3 points, but a draw is not too shabby either. 😀

    1. I think this is a publicity stunt by EE tbh. Just to get the press talking and Barca to lose concentration wondering what’s going on in the capital. He’s the most spoiled player in the world, even Messi doesn’t get babied at Barca as much as Crissy.

      If he was big enough to say he’s sad to the press, at least go all the way and tell the whole story. Unless something else comes of this, i think it’s a publicity stunt.

  12. Adriano redeeming himself? I don’t blame him at all. If it spurred him on to make it right, I believe it was worth it. La Liga (and 5 points) are much too important.

    We kept a clean sheet! Hooray for that. Yes the defense has some issues with deadballs but its still September.

    Song looked solid. I know its early on, but such a showing against Valencia is promising. Definitely not in keeping with what has been said about him by almost everyone. All those years at Arsenal have to pay off right?

    And you have to give Valencia some credit. They shut us down. Apart from the goal (and those two misses) we never really looked as if we were gonna score. Oh and the boys owe Kimcelona a goal after what they put her through 😛

    I think it was Calvin (might’ve been vicsoc8, I dunno) who pointed out in the loveblob that Cesc was getting into scoring positions yet still floundering – kinda like Torres. This isn’t a bad sign IMO, and hopefully he’ll score if he’s keeping it up. But he has to do it quick, playing time is at a premium here.

    Finally, I know the appeal of being rich, handsome and a great player, but would you feel sad if you had this?

    1. Your link doeesnt work Vj. it says access denied. Does the link got to do something with irina shayk 😛 ?

  13. Pento Pelota : ” Chris sees everybody renewing their conrtact with the club and he’s not. Also, Kaka’s wage is similar to his and he’s not doing much at all “

  14. Yes it was painful to watch at the end and we had a tough time on offense….but remember this is Valencia we’re dealing with. I think we played a solid game but we need more movement up front. Everyone seems to think “Messi’s lost his touch” or “Messi is selfish and isn’t playing well” But its up to Alexis, Pedro, etc to give him more space to run into. Even the best in the world can’t go through 8 guys consistently ;)I noticed that Messi and Alves linked up quite nicely…was Messi playing on the right or center? ALSO I liked the crosses that were being sent in the first half…I think Tello would be great for this. May be a good way to change up play? Enough about the offense though! It’s too early to tell, but Song has been very good so far. Also, congrats to Adriano who made me eat my words when I got upset that they started him over Jordi Alba. Has anyone else noticed that Tito is rotating the players a little more than Pep did?

  15. Not a faboulous win, we were that close to a draw.. But what matter is we’re still on top of the table, 5 points above EE! Yay!

    Like many of you have mentioned above, Song Billong looks promising. Even more convincing than Mascherano’s debut on La Liga (that infamous Hercules game, right?).

    I just realized next Barcelona match will be on September 15th. Booo.

  16. It seemed Valencia played with 8 defenders, 2 banks of 4 and narrow, crowding the center of the pitch. This will be a common tactic against Barcelona. Tito has to come with a plan B.

    – I felt Tello would have been useful in such a match, drawing the defenders wide and freeing up the middle.

    -Counter Attacking. Why have we become so bad at it. During the Ronaldinho era, we used to be successful with swift counter attacks. now it seems we have forgotten it. I remember the long balls to Ronaldinho and the way he used to waste no time and run at defenders causing chaos. Now, even when we have the opportunity to counter attack, we just wait near the opposition’s half for more players to arrive or pass the ball back, giving a chance for the opponent to reorganize themselves.

    – We need to start shooting more from outside the box. Adriano proved it (brilliant goal btw. Surprising not many have praised the goal here). Right now, it is like a rule, that we have to thread the ball inside the D and then only score a goal. The opposition knows that, and crowd the box making it extremely difficult for us.

    – W.r.t Song, good solid game. One thing though was when the full backs surge forward and the center backs were drawn apart, Busquets used to fall back between them and act as a sweeper and provide more protection. I noticed Song didn’t do that. That makes us susceptible in the middle. He was good at providing cover to the flanks though.

    1. The thing is that few teams attack Barca right down the middle. The Madrid teams come to mind, along with maybe Bilbao. Most teams prefer to try their luck down the wings. So I was glad to see how adept Song was at working the flanks. That’s not something I remember noticing in his Arsenal game.

      Still, with neither Mathieu nor Pablo Hernandez in the side, Valencia are a lot less threatening down the wings, and Song wasn’t especially taxed.

    2. Anyone know why Mathieu didn’t play last night? If fit, he’d be one of the first players that I would put on the team to play vs. Barca. He’s a scourge!

      Hernandez has gone to Swansea.

  17. If another player had the match Messi had, we’d be all over his ass. Misplaced passes, poorly weighted passes, selfishness (on more than one occasion) continual foolish runs at 4-5 men. He had a bad match, simple as that. We don’t need to make excuses for him, such as “He was covered by 3 or 4 men.” Yes, when he got into the danger zone.

    There were any number of occasions where a simple pass could have sent a teammate in on goal. Twice with Pedro, once or twice with Sanchez. Maybe if others were given the chance to take up the scoring slack, they could.

    –Song was a delight. Comparisons to Busquets are unfair. Judging one player by another player’s template means that only one player is guaranteed to measure up.

    –Xavi was brilliant. Adriano also had a blinder and Pedro! is back in form. This was a big match, and the side was tired. That they were able to take care of business was huge. Getafe is the next test. Pass that one, and who knows?

    –When he makes those faces, Vilanova looks like Mr. Bean.

    1. Is it possible that Messi might be reacting, perhaps subconsciously, to losing a major award? I have no doubt he’s genuinely happy for Iniesta, but maybe some small part of him is (absurdly) thinking he should be doing even more to distinguish himself from his stellar teammates.

      I sincerely hope this isn’t the case, but for someone so defined by football (and so young), it’s conceivable. And of course Messi would internalize the disappointment instead of being petulant about it, like you-know-who.

    2. Hmm. I don’t think so. I think it’s more of a case of him thinking that even if he passes they’ll just pass back to him anyway. Which certainly seems to the case recently….

    3. TBH, Messi hasn’t sparked yet this yr. He seems a little heavier and as we all saw, towards the end of the Valencia match, he was clearly out of breath and fatigued by that run. Yes he’s been scoring goals but, he hasn’t been his usual sparkling best. For a good part of the matches, he seem to be just walking around and not working hard enough or chasing loose balls. He can be forgiven coz, he really has worked his butt of for Barca in recent yrs. Team needs to be a little less Messi dependent anyways.

      Am also glad that Alexis didn’t dive today like he’s been doing in recent matches and Cesc needs to improve A LOT!!!

      Defence still needs to improve as well as attack. I think we are the only team that when they counter attack, reach the D and pass the ball back. Very frustrating.

    4. Folks, this is Valencia, a CL quality side who came and parked. It was never going to be easy , especially after our efforts against RM. this was a potential banana skin for us and we overcame it.

      Also, I’ve no problem with people criticising Messi’s choices but before having a go at his effort have a look at his chasing in the closing minutes despite the fact he was knackered.

    5. Chasing and defending is part of his job. Everyone was tired. You do what you’re supposed to do to help the side.

      And the devil’s advocate in me recalls a certain ex-Arsenal French striker who wouldn’t get credit for the same kinds of efforts.

      As I said, Messi is human. He has poor matches. Sanchez has a poor match or two and people want him pilloried. Messi has bad matches, and excuses are made. I might have to start an SFC (Sanchez Fairness Committee), for those of you with the tenure to recall the HFC (Henry Fairness Committee).

    6. I think you’re saying this as a general statement but for the record, I’m not really making excuses for him per se. He was guilty of all the things you and nia mentiond imo especially the giving the way away cheaply on more than a few occasions. To be honest, I think he – like other forwards – didn’t have best of games yesterday to put it lightly (Alexis needs to really work on that final ball….)

      True, it’s expected from the whole team and I credit everyone on the team (particularly Pedro! and Alexis) for their defensively effort — but that’s the thing isn’t it? The whole team does it and that includes Messi.

      Now what I agree with Jim is this — when evaluating Messi’s defensive contribution, one should keep his position in mind. His area of pressing is the Valencia backline (particularly the CB) and they sat deep, rarely touching the ball except to boot it out of dodge. And as the offensive focal point, he stays up field. Wings are a bit different in.that those players have to track back to cover, especially yesterday as we played two offensive wingbacks. Did he have a mediocre match yesterday? I think so. And I think his movement was a little stiff, but then I could say the same for the whole team. (Except Xavi, that man is a machine. Oh, and Song.)

      It’s a shame Henry never got much credit, but I think Alexis’ situation is more comparable to his than Messi.

      If you start an Alexis Fairness Committee, I’d join as vice-president in a heartbeat. 😉

    7. We dont need to cause youre always gonna be there to point how horrible Messi was at any particular time *shrugs*

      I honestly didnt think Messi had a worse match than Sanchez has been having for the last 2. It really doesnt matter if you call them excuses or not (funny you dont think things like “its only the second match” when applied to how Sanchez played is an excuse) its fact that he was surrounded by 4-5 defenders for most of the match and many times he had no one to pass to cause of lack of movement from the other forwards.
      Yes he misplaced passes, just like, *gasp* Xavi, and he lost the ball but I dont think it warranted “getting on his ass.”

    8. Yes, because somebody has to point out when Messi is (shudder!) human. There is a double standard when it comes to him, and there shouldn’t be.

      As for Sanchez, I have brought up before the ease with which he finds the carpet, the silly card gestures and his inability to finish off of a move. As a matter of fact, my just-coined nickname for him is 95%, because he does 95% of the move right, then screws up the last bit.

      And you will never hear me making “Oh, it’s the second match” excuses for him. Others have, yes. I don’t believe in that. He’s part of this club for going on his second season. He should be as fully integrated as anyone else. Hell, Song just showed up and has looked better integrated than Sanchez. Granted, the latter has an infinitely more difficult task, in finding space to play around a very mobile Messi. Still ….

      Messi and Sanchez screwed up balls yesterday. And yes, the forwards were at times static. But when they moved, and presented themselves for passes and through balls, Messi was tilting at windmills. It’s as simple as that. Nobody is saying the emperor is naked, or anything of the sort. No player on this club should be above just criticism, and the fact of the matter is that, the two goals against Osasuna notwithstanding, Messi was crap that match, nor was he all that convincing in the SuperCopa final, despite that sublime free kick goal. Yes, I recognize that it is often my “job” to say stuff that nobody else wants to, such as “Messi is off form.” I’m okay with that.

      Neither he nor Sanchez have been on form, and if they do nothing else, they should be thinking about ways to get Pedro!, who IS on form, more involved in the offense. He shouldn’t have to rely on long balls from Mascherano to get good scoring chances.

    1. if he did not succeed in making 6 out of 67 passes, didn’t he lose 6 balls?
      I am ignorant of this!

  18. Last year (possibly pep’s worst year) we scored 190 goals in all competitions with a goal difference of +142! thats mad.
    I’d say even if we can achieve 50% of that GD, it’d be great. but it seems like we’re having some difficulty scoring goals.

  19. -I don’t understand all this attack on Cesc.

    R. Sociedad – I read the match comments post first but hardly saw his name being mentioned. When I finally watched the match, he actually had a good game.

    Valencia – Read the match comments post first ones again and thought that he had a stinker but after watching the match, he seemed to had an average to good match.

    – Messi was heavily criticized too. But I thought that Messi probably had one of his most un-selfish matches in a while.. He was really generous.

    -Ozil looks like Prof Xavier in the latest spin off of Xmen: First Class.

    -Is CR7 really sad because of money? I really doubt it. He is alright making a billion dollar a year, okay maybe I’m exaggerating but he certainly makes more than enough so I really doubt it.

    It must’ve been because of him again losing out on a personal trophy. Not just that but he couldn’t even beat Messi when Messi didn’t win any major trophy and didn’t have a summer tournament.

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