Lionel Messi and Pedri were two of few players who impressed, as Barcelona were held to a 2-2 draw by Valencia at Camp Nou on Saturday.
Barcelona named a strong attack-minded lineup, but it was Valencia that took the lead just ahead of the half-hour mark, as Mouctar Diakhaby powered in a header from Carlos Soler’s corner. The hosts, though, pulled back on level terms on the stroke of half-time through Lionel Messi.
But that was before a period of confusion that saw Diakhaby get sent off before VAR revealed that it was Jose Gaya who brought Antoine Griezmann down for the penalty, with the Valencia captain only getting a yellow card. Messi had his spot-kick saved, but the Barcelona captain headed in from a cross by Jordi Alba, who pounced on the melee resulting from the rebound.
Early into the second half, Barcelona grabbed the lead with a fabulous solo effort by Ronald Araujo, who powered in an acrobatic effort past Jaume Domenech. However, the spoils would be shared as Maxi Gomez converted Gaya’s low cross from close range. The deadlock would not be broken again, as Barcelona dropped points yet again this term. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ronald Koeman’s men.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 7/10
Yet another occasion when ter Stegen did all he could to help Barcelona grab all three points. Alas, this time around, his defenders did not help him enough, despite the fact that the German made a couple of top-class saves to deny Valencia. Could not have done anything to keep out the efforts of Mouctar Diakhaby and Maxi Gomez. As ever, dependable with the ball at his feet.
Sergino Dest: 5/10
After a run of top-class performances, this was a leveller for Dest. The teenager was well off his best on Saturday, and it was his error that led to the corner from which Valencia opened the scoring. The USMNT international also carried little threat down the right flank, lacking the imagination needed to make any sort of difference. Perhaps affected by a lack of rest.
Ronald Araujo: 7/10
The best of the lot at the back, Araujo was composed in the critical moments for the most part but was caught out of position leading up to Gomez’s equaliser. Otherwise, though, the young defender barely put a foot wrong, with his numbers (6/7 duels won, 4 clearances, 3 interceptions, 2 tackles) being mighty impressive and as was the finish for his goal – a striker’s delight.
— Barça World (@BarcaWorldEn) December 19, 2020
Oscar Mingueza: 5/10
Like Dest, Mingueza endured a harsh leveller on Saturday, with Gomez, in particular, troubling him on a few occasions. This included Valencia’s second goal, for which the Uruguayan outsmarted him with his movement. Paid the price of inexperience, but this outing will surely aid Mingueza and his growth. Set up the goal for Araujo, though.
Jordi Alba: 6/10
A game of hits and misses for Alba. The Spanish international saw a lot of the ball and invariably played the most key passes (4) on the day. However, he was not quite at his best in the defensive phase, which heaped the pressure on young Mingueza. Having said that, the former Valencia star did get the assist for Lionel Messi’s historic goal.
Sergio Busquets: 5/10
Starting as the Anchor Man in a 4-1-4-1, Busquets was overwhelmed in the first half whenever Valencia took the game to Barcelona. And so, after being outrun a number of times, it was not really surprising that he was hooked off at half-time.
Antoine Griezmann: 5/10
The player to watch in our preview, it was yet another frustrating outing for Griezmann, who, apart from winning the penalty that Messi missed, did little of note. The Frenchman hardly got into good scoring positions, never really getting on top of Jose Gaya. Worked hard off the ball, but switched off when Diakhaby scored, as his compatriot ran off him to score Valencia’s first goal.
@Pedri 🆚 Valencia
100% aerial duels won
86.7% pass accuracy
10(7) ground duels (won)
8 final third entries
4 ball recoveries
3(3) Dribble (succ.)
2 chances created
— Spandan (@ZerotuoNinety) December 19, 2020
While the rest of the Barcelona youngsters failed to impress against Valencia, Pedri’s star continued to rise on Saturday. The teenager carried the ball with intent and played some delightful passes while creating a couple of fine chances. Displayed a lot of maturity in putting in a shift off the ball with a couple of interceptions and 3 tackles. Rightly a regular for Barcelona.
Philippe Coutinho: 5/10
Reinstated in the starting lineup in place of Frenkie de Jong, Coutinho failed to impress and it was quite inexplicable how he lasted nearly 80 minutes. The Brazilian did not lose the ball cheaply, but hardly posed a threat in the final third. The only notable moment in the game for him was when he forced Jaume Domenech into a decent save. Otherwise, this was Coutinho being quite listless.
Martin Braithwaite: 6/10
Stationed on the left-wing yet again, Braithwaite was given the freedom to roam into the central areas too at times. The Danish forward nearly scored as a result of this freedom, only for Domenech to keep his headed effort out superbly. Did all he could despite not being involved a great deal.
Lionel Messi: 7/10
A historic evening for Messi, who equalled Pele’s record of most goals scored for a single club when he found the back of the net for the 643rd time in Barcelona colours. Did so dramatically, missing his penalty before showing tremendous awareness to meet Alba’s deflected cross. Also played 3 key passes, but those chances were not met with the right kind of finishes. Grew out of the game late on.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) December 19, 2020
Frenkie de Jong: 6.5/10
On for Busquets, de Jong gave Barcelona a greater authority in the game in the second period and created 3 chances as well. Completed each of the long balls (5) he attempted, won each ground duel (4) he contested. But, his efforts could not yield Barcelona all three points.
Francisco Trincao: 5/10
On for Griezmann, Trincao carried on in the same vein as the Frenchman, struggling to find his way into the game.
Clement Lenglet: N/A
Lenglet replaced Coutinho late on and helped keep things tight at the back.
Miralem Pjanic: N/A
A late introduction, Pjanic did not have enough time to make a difference.