Barcelona cling on to beat Valencia, keep clear atop LaLiga

BARCELONA, Spain — Raphinha struck the one purpose of the sport as 10-man Barcelona returned to profitable methods in LaLiga by beating Valencia 1-0 at Camp Nou.

The former Leeds United ahead headed house within the first half as Barca moved 10 factors away from Real Madrid, who journey to Real Betis afterward Sunday.

– LaLiga: Standings | Schedule | Statistics

Ferran Torres missed a penalty to double Barca’s lead and Xavi Hernandez’s aspect have been compelled to see the sport out a participant down after Ronald Araujo was despatched off for a last-man problem.

Rapid response

1. Patched-up Barcelona again on observe in LaLiga

Barca have responded effectively to final week’s shock defeat to Almeria, beating Real Madrid within the Copa del Rey on Thursday after which beating Valencia on Sunday to get their title cost again on observe.

Neither efficiency has been spectacular, however Barca will level to mitigating circumstances. They stay with out the injured trio of Robert Lewandowski, Pedri and Ousmane Dembele, whereas Gavi additionally sat out Valencia’s go to via suspension. They then misplaced Araujo for the ultimate half-hour of the encounter, however nonetheless managed to get throughout the road.

The hosts did begin effectively and deservedly led when Raphinha flicked house a superb Sergio Busquets cross. Valencia got here into the sport on the finish of the primary half, although Barca improved after the break, albeit with out reward.

Ferran missed from the spot, hitting the publish after Hugo Guillamon had dealt with the ball, with Ansu Fati then putting the opposite publish from open play moments later. The recreation swung with Araujo’s dismissal moments later, although Valencia couldn’t discover a method via.

They have been aggrieved to not be given a penalty for a Franck Kessie problem on Fran Perez, however solely have themselves responsible for less than mustering one shot heading in the right direction.

2. Barca’s defence is sustaining their title problem

Despite beating Real Madrid on Thursday, Xavi has fielded criticism for dropping the possession battle on the Santiago Bernabeu and being compelled to defend. However, the reality is that it’s Barca’s defence, not their star-studded assault, that’s underpinning their push for the league title.

– Stream a replay of Barcelona vs. Valencia on ESPN+ (U.S.)

Sunday noticed goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s 18th clear sheet in 24 LaLiga video games. They have conceded simply eight occasions within the league. What’s extra, solely a kind of objectives has been conceded at Camp Nou — and that was a penalty towards Espanyol. They haven’t conceded from open play at house this season within the prime flight.

That run of resolute defending was put to the check within the remaining half an hour towards Valencia, however even with out Araujo, who has been one in every of their standout performers this season, they restricted Valencia to only a few clear-cut possibilities. The result’s three extra invaluable factors as they chase a primary league title since 2019.

3. Baraja’s enormous job at Valencia

Sunday’s defeat leaves Valencia nineteenth in LaLiga, two factors from security. Only Elche, who’ve gained simply twice all season, are under them within the desk. Their season is not going to depend upon outcomes towards Barca and Madrid, in fact, however Valencia’s toothlessness was on full show on Sunday.

Against a Barca aspect arguably with out 4 of their most essential gamers — Lewandowski, Dembele, Pedri and Gavi — after which lowered to 10 males, that they had an enormous probability to at the very least take some extent house with them. That they failed to actually bother Ter Stegen could have annoyed new coach Ruben Baraja, who lately changed Gennaro Gattuso.

Read also  WWE Hall of Famer Jerry Lawler recovering from stroke

There was a response to Baraja’s appointment within the type of a 1-0 win over Real Sociedad final weekend, however there’s nonetheless quite a lot of work to be accomplished to keep away from what could be an surprising relegation.

Best and worst performers


– Raphinha, FW, Barcelona: Still not constant sufficient, however his fourth purpose in eight video games since Dembele acquired injured might show essential on the finish of the season.

– Andreas Christensen, DF, Barcelona: Kept Barca’s defence so as after Araujo’s purple.

– Sergio Busquets, MF, Barcelona: With Pedri and Gavi out, he lined gaps in midfield and arrange the purpose with a luxurious cross.


– Ronald Araujo, DF, Barcelona: Left his crew with 10 males for the ultimate half-hour, though might argue his problem helped Barca maintain their lead.

– Ferran Torres, FW, Barcelona: If he scores the penalty, Araujo might by no means should make the problem that noticed him despatched off, after which Barca might have had a way more snug remaining half-hour.

– Giorgi Mamardashvili, GK, Valencia: Caught in no man’s land for the purpose which price his aspect defeat.

Highlights and notable moments

Raphinha had the cool end, however how about that help by Sergio Busquets?

And then got here the doubtless vital second within the second half, when Araujo deservedly noticed purple.

Lucky for Barca, it did not influence the ultimate rating.

After the match: What the gamers/managers stated

“We have to know how to kill games off. We had a lot of chances to do so and we didn’t do it, then with the Araujo red card, we suffered at the end. These are games when we should be talking about a comfortable victory, but the lack of effectiveness in the final third forces us to suffer. We were able to, though, even with a lot of players out and then with a man less.” — Barcelona supervisor Xavi

“We had chances to leave with something. There were spells when we struggled to get adjusted to the game. We can do better on the goal as well. But the team reacted well to that setback and we had chances to level. With a player more, we looked to get wide. They defended well. We had chances but did not take then. If we could have been a little more clinical, we would have been going home with a positive result.” — Valencia supervisor Ruben Baraja

Read also  Rashford can full comeback by ending Man Utd trophy wait

“It was a difficult game. The important thing is to keep picking up points. It’s hard to play a man down. We did what was needed. [Regarding the ref card,] Araujo was the last man, so it’s normal that he’s sent off. The Valencia player was in along on Marc [Andre ter Stegen]. For me, it’s a red card. Sometimes we have to do these things for the good of the team.” — Barcelona ahead Raphinha

Key stats (offered by ESPN Stats & Information analysis)

– Araujo acquired the second purple card of his profession with Barcelona in all competitions. (He additionally acquired a purple card on his debut towards Sevilla on Oct. 6, 2019.)

– Torres’ missed penalty means he’s now 15 video games and not using a purpose.

Up subsequent

Barcelona: Xavi will take his aspect to tackle Athletic Club subsequent Sunday, earlier than the small matter of a house LaLiga clasico on Sunday, March 19 to guide into the worldwide break.

Valencia: It’s again on house turf on Saturday when Valencia host Osasuna, then it is one other tough away recreation on Saturday, March 18 at Atletico Madrid.