Barcelona's Lionel Messi (C) fights against Valencia's Victor Ruiz (R) and Rami (L) during their Spanish First division soccer league match at Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, September 2, 2012.
(Photo : REUTERS/Albert Gea )
Barcelona became the only team in the First Division of the Spanish League to win its first three games after a 1-0 win over a struggling Valencia. Barca won their first match 5-1 over Real Sociedad two weeks ago before dropping Osasuna 2-1 last weekend.
Coming off a heartbreaking loss to Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup on Thursday, Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova started the match against Valencia with Victor Valdes, Dani Alves, Gerard Pique, Javier Mascherano, Adriano, Alex Song, Xavi, Cesc Fabregas, Pedro, Alexis Sanchez, and Lionel Messi.
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Valencia countered with a starting lineup that included Diego Alves, Aly Cissokho, Adil Rami, Joao Pereira, Victor Ruiz, David Albelda, Sofiane Feghouli, Andres Guardado, Alberto Costa, Jonas, and Roberto Soldado.
The match got off to a torrid pace with Valencia applying as much pressure as they could. Soldado and Ruiz both missed prime scoring chances in the early going due some poor defending from Dani Alves. After 10 minutes, Barca settled into the match and started creating opportunities of their own. In the 22nd minute, they would be rewarded with the match's only goal. Adriano, who had a strong first half, took a pass from the left corner, ran to the outside of the box and blasted a rocket into the right side of the goal.
After the goal, Barcelona seemed more subdued and produced few chances. Fabregas missed two golden chances to add to the score, but other than that there was little more from the first place squad. Valencia on the other hand continued to pressure and a goal was disallowed due to off-sides.
The match was far from Barcelona's most inspired as they seemed a bit lethargic throughout, likely a result of their playing on Thursday against their most hated rivals. Lionel Messi, always in the spotlight, was particularly uncharacteristic on the pitch. He had one prime chance, but lacked the creativity and explosiveness that makes him the world's most lethal striker.
Both squads are off next week due to an international break. They resume play on Saturday September 15 when Valencia takes on Celta Vigo and Barcelona takes on Getafe.