Barca maintained the only 100% record in La Liga making it 9 points from 9, however it was far from a convincing performance all round in the Camp Nou this evening, but it was Barca new boy Alex Song who shone as the star performer. His positioning was brilliant, passing, tackling, vision, were all top notch. It’s very clear the new boy hasn’t taken long to settle in.
The first 20 minutes brought very little excitement to the game with only Soldado coming somewhat close as he curled wide of Victor Valdes goal. Suddenly Barca seemed to settle and the ball began to flow with Messi heading over on 21 minutes, before a sublime goal from Adriano on 23 minutes as the Brazilian utility man cut in side onto his right foot and curled in an absolute rocket past Diego Alves in the Valencia goal. It was very nearly 2-0 on 24 minutes as Barca turned up the heat when Messi had a free header from a Dani Alves cross which was saved well by Diego Alves flicking the ball away from the bottom left hand corner of the goal. Fabregas also combined nicely with Messi only to chip wide of the goal when for someone of the standards of Cesc, it seemed easier to score. Things calmed down somewhat from that point on and Valencia’s only had the stand out figure of Soldado to threaten, but he lacked support from the midfield resulting in the Spaniard being very much isolated for most parts against Mascherano, Pique and Song as Valencia lined up 4-4-1-1.
Pedro had the only other chance of the half latching on to a brilliant through ball over the top by Xavi but Pedro could only get an outstretched leg to the ball which was too close to Alves to cause the keeper any serious trouble.
Valencia thought they had equalise through a Victor Ruiz header from a Tino Costa free-kick only for it to be ruled out offside which replays show was the correct decision, all be it, incredibly marginally.
New boy Song showed spectacular stewardship.
The second half began with Valencia on the front foot causing Valdes some nervy moments in the Barca goal but then on 52 minutes Alexis squared for Cesc who ballooned well over into the Gol Nord from 8 yards when he should have at least hit the target despite pressure from the Valencia defence.
Alexis began to show some promising signs after the hour mark but was somewhat frustrating to watch and his lack of confidence showed as he was reluctant to let fire when he had a sight on goal and instead opted to move the ball out again.
Iniesta replaced a weary looking Cesc and took control alongside Xavi as Barca started to shift the ball around well in the final 20 minutes but only Adriano’s left footed effort was the only save Alves had to make which went straight down his throat.
Valencia threatened a late equaliser as Valdes who seems shaken after his mistake against Di Maria last week, as he flapped on a number of occasions when he should have come and collected with relative ease. Jonas attempted a spectacular effort in stoppage time as he struck on the volley but a back pedalling Valdes was relieved to see the ball land well onto the roof of the net.
That proved to be the final threat and the game ended 1-0 in favour of Barca. It may be 3 points but Vilanova would not have been impressed by his sides attributes as they seemed happy to sit on a one goal lead. Man of match from my prospective was Alex Song but Valencia can take a lot away from the game as they held a very tight defensive line not allowing Barca to break through the centre.