analysis | 2016-02-04
Match Report: FC Barcelona 7:0 Valencia - The day and the night
Barcelona perform an outstanding exhibition against a soulless Valencia squad to virtually secure a spot in the Spanish Cup final
Gary Neville placed his team in a 4-5-1 formation with a halfway defense. Four full backs (Gayá, Siqueira, Barragán and Cancelo), Danilo in midfield with Parejo and Andrés Gomes; and Rodrigo as the only reference in the attack. If Málaga or Atlético de Madrid were able to show how you can damage this Barcelona or at least, compete better against them by troubling their build-up plays, closing the internal lanes and not letting Busquets play, Valencia did quite the opposite although all the players they lined up with have a defensive profile.
Andrés Gomes losing the ball on the halfway line was the first gift for Neymar who saw Suaréz breaking the defensive coverage from the outside and the Uruguayan beat Ryan with a crossed shot. But if Barça’s first goal was in an offensive transition after Neymar’s recovery, their second one also from Suárez, was with the Valencia squad defending in their positions. Or should we say, looking helplessly at how an all alone Busquets saw Aleix Vidal losing his marker. The Catalan passed the ball back to Suárez who nailed the goal. It was just the 12th minute and we were 2-0 already.
For Valencia, playing from the back was a mirage. It was taking them a lot of time to recover the ball and when they did so, they lost it in three seconds and two passes. Neville’s ranks allowed Busquets to receive and think in the 3/4 and central zones. With astonishing ease, the Badia-born was able to combine with Iniesta who activated Neymar in the internal lane. The Brazilian found Messi who was entering the goal area without opposition with a backheel pass.
The dynamic didn’t change with Feghouli replacing Danilo. Messi hit the crossbar in another counterattack and Neymar missed a penalty which came at a high price for Valencia because Mustafi was ejected as he was the last defender. The German footballer was the only one who was showing some intensity and self-respect in the previous minutes, by covering the spaces their defensive partners left.
The script did not change for the second half. Barcelona were enjoying themselves and Valencia were wishing for the match to end without displaying a pinch of self-esteem. Luis Enrique’s squad swept the Valencians in the Spanish Cup semifinals not only for their gameplan but also for their intensity, after a demanding clash against Atlético de Madrid. The Asturian coach seized the moment to make his rotations – Iniesta, Piqué and Alba were replaced. Luis Suárez and Messi did not rest, though. They dribbled Valencia defenders like they were training cones. Two more goals for each one of them in the second half. Messi by conducting the ball after stealing it from Parejo; Suárez by taking advantage of an Adriano cross and a through pass by Arda. The goals fell with an unheard of easiness in the Camp Nou.
Valencia’s match, who arrived in agony and left the Camp Nou shocked, was embarrassing. It was a team without soul and with an apathetic display, indolent in defense and incapable on the attack. For Gary Neville’s footballers, the match was over when it had not yet begun. Bare on the inside and disjointed on the outside, Valencia’s biggest challenge will be to regain their courage after this blow. Neville has not won yet in the league and the Spanish Cup dream is over.
The abysmal Valencia match does not cast a shadow over the sublime culé demonstration, exemplified to perfection by Sergio Busquets who made the rival area his home, by recovering the ball up high, managing the game and even attacking Ryan’s goal sometimes, always without neglecting his primary duties. Of the seven Blaugrana goals, four were by Suárez and three by Messi. Barcelona have now scored 105 goals so far this season, 80 of them came from the trident and 35 from the Uruguayan; and 500 goals for Messi in official matches during his entire career. Barcelona have nine consecutive wins and 27 matches without losing. The rhythm and the calendar are demanding, but the autoexigency of Luis Enrique and his players is even greater.
The sun keeps shining on the Camp Nou and darkness settles in Mestalla. Barcelona and Valencia are the day and the night.
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Article translated from Spanish to English, originally published at the Perarnau Magazine by Ismael Ledesma.
WRITTEN BY: Ismael Ledesma
Ismael Ledesma coordinates and writes at Martiperarnau.com. He also collaborates with the press department of UD Levante @LevanteUDDM and LevanteUDRadio.
TRANSLATED BY: Jaime Ibarra
Jaime is a chemical engineer from Venezuela who is passionate about football and Barça. He loves the club’s history and he has been an unconditional fan since Ronaldo “The Phenomenon” amazed the world with the Blaugrana colors.