Valencia 0-0 Barcelona: Blaugrana Drop First Points Of The Season In Goalless Stalemate
David Villa missed out for the hosts as they lined up with Juan Mata up front. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was only on the bench for Pep Guardiola’s men after picking up a knock on international duty with Sweden. Lionel Messi started despite a gruelling week with the Argentina squad, while Andres Iniesta and Pedro completed the attacking trident.
Valencia had a golden opportunity within the first minute as Pablo Hernandez raced through on goal, but he could only fire weakly at Victor Valdes.
Pablo was causing problems for the visitors’ defence as los Che started well, but Iniesta was also making some endeavouring runs down the left hand side as the champions looked to settle into their rhythm.
Barcelona were slightly over-confident in possession as the hosts closed them down all across the pitch, winning the ball back in key areas. David Silva was also working hard to supply the ball into the danger zone, but Villa’s absence was clear as there was a distinct lack of players that looked to get onto the end of his crosses.
The hosts were working well down the left hand side, and when Jeremy Mathieu won the ball and stormed towards the penalty area it looked like Valencia could take the lead. When the final ball came in, however, Mata and Silva got in each others’ way and the chance was gone.
With half an hour gone, it was all Valencia. The hosts were dominating possession, working harder than the visitors and creating all the opportunities. But the Blaugrana were a threat even then, and Cesar did well to make himself big and save from Iniesta’s close range shot with 10 minutes of the half left.
Los Che continued to press forward as the half drew to a close, but were unable to test Valdes as the first period ended goalless.
Barcelona were revitalised at the start of the second half, with Iniesta at the centre of their attacking moves once again. Messi’s volley in the 50th minute was a statement of intent from the visitors, who started the half as the superior side.
The game was beginning to open up as both sides looked for the opening goal, and Messi tested Cesar with a powerful drive from distance. Pedro should have put the visitors in front in the 65th minute when he received Xavi’s cut-back in the penalty area, but a host of defenders managed to deflect the shot behind.
Jeremy Mathieu, playing in an unfamiliar left wing position, then flashed a curling shot wide of the left post. With 20 minutes to go, Pablo tried an audacious lob from inside his own half, which Valdes had to tip over the crossbar.
The ‘keeper had to come to Barcelona’s rescue once again from David Silva as Valencia took a quick free kick while Dani Alves feigned injury on the floor – a factor that then led to a brief scuffle between both sets of players.
The heat had certainly been turned up at the Mestalla, but the game remained goalless. Guardiola turned to Bojan Krkic and Sergio Busquets in an effort to turn the game in his side’s favour, while Valencia substitute Miku upended Valdes to incur the wrath of the visiting players.
As injury time drew near, Cesar almost gifted Barcelona a goal when he spilled Yaya Toure’s shot, but he grabbed onto the shot as it spun towards his goal. It was the closest the visitors got to a goal in the closing stages, but they closed out a goalless draw with a Valencia side who will rue their missed chances.