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Sunday, February 19

Barcelona 5 - 1 Valencia: The Lionel Messi Show

A look at Barcelona passing Valencia off the pitch en route to a 5-1 victory.

And it all started so well for Valencia.

With Barcelona's Martín Montoya getting the nod at right-back for the suspended Dani Alves, Unai Emery's starting of Pablo Piatti over Jordi Alba made sense: with Montoya not the marauder down the right flank that Alves is, it made sense to play the more narrow-favouring Piatti to run at Barça's centre-backs.  And, sure enough, it was Piatti -- not Valencia striker Roberto Soldado -- finishing a Sofiane Feghouli cross to put Valencia up early, a goal coming from the employing of tactics not unlike their previous Copa del Rey outing in the Camp Nou, only mirrored to the right flank.

Much of the focus on Barça's La Liga campaign this season has been on their away form and ten-point-deficit to Real Madrid atop the table, but Piatti's go-ahead put Los Che in an overlooked position: should Valencia hang on, they'd only find themselves five points back of the Blaugranas for second place.  While either position guarantees its holder a Champions League Group Stage entrance, for Valencia to even be within sniffing distance of Barça after their summer sell-off is a meritorious feat.

But Piatti's goal wasn't without blowback for Valencia: it woke the Catalan giants up.  From that point on, Barça's superior tactics and technique provided a scoreline perhaps worthy of an even greater final margin, so soundly and thoroughly dispatching of La Liga's third best side, passing them off the pitch.

As such, the tactical chalkboard of Barcelona and Valencia's second La Liga encounter, after Piatti's opener:

Liked this?  Then for blog updates and 140-character-limit ramblings.  Also, you might enjoy this similar look at the tactics of Barbados defeating Grenada 4-2, a game where Barbados both scored an intentional own goal in hopes of bringing the game into extra-time and had to defend both nets at the close of regulation.