Barcelona were subjected to a third consecutive defeat on Sunday by Valencia at Camp Nou as Lionel Messi’s goal milestone amounted to nothing in the 2-1 defeat.
Goals from Guilherme Siqueira and Santi Mina gave Valencia maximum points on the road, condemning the defending Champions to three straight La Liga defeats with Lionel Messi’s 500th career goals serving a mere consolation for the Catalans.
Sunday’s defeat makes it the first time since February 2003 that Barcelona will lose three La Liga matches in a row.
Dani Alves came under fire for wearing a wig and pretending to be his girlfriend in an Instagram post, suggesting Barca’s Champions League elimination to Atletico Madrid on Wednesday “was just a game of football”, and he made way for Sergi Roberto at right-back as Valencia brought in Enzo Perez for Paco Alcacer.
Having gone three matches without a win in the League, Barca began the game intent on banishing their bad run of form, and the ‘MSN’ all got opportunities to give their side an early lead, only for Diego Alves to stand in their way.
Messi unleashed a finish with the outside of his left boot straight at Alves from point-blank range, before the goalkeeper clawed away Neymar’s volleyed lob and Suarez failed to slide home Jordi Alba’s low cross into the penalty area.
A corner was then flicked on at the near post by Javier Mascherano, which set up a gift for Suarez, but the striker couldn’t keep his free header down. The Catalans squandered a fifth chance through Messi, whose curling shot was parried away by the goalkeeper, and it proved one too many for Los Che.
Suddenly, Barca’s defence left in sixes and sevens as a simple through ball splits Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano and was ran onto by Rodrigo, but the striker’s finish drifted inches wide of Claudio Bravo’s left-hand post.
Atletico Madrid fans, as well as those of Valencia, were sent into delirium when Siqueira – owned by Los Colchoneros – drove into the box from the left and saw his shot at the byline deflect goalbound.
Sergi could then only ball-watch as Santi Mina got in behind the right-back to coolly dispatch a finish across Bravo and into the bottom-right corner of the goalkeeper’s net on the cusp of half-time to leave Barcelona staring into the void.
After the break, Messi and his team-mates Barcelona continued to toil for their first goal.But it was just at that moment when the champions responded and it could only come from one man: Messi. Alba collected a ball down on the left and found Messi who artfully slid his shot in past a blocked Alves to make it a 2-1 affair.
The goal gave Barcelona life, but they still had to contend with Alves in the Valencia net and the visiting goalkeeper pulled off another massive save with a quarter-hour left, diving to his right to stop a Rakitic shot.
Valencia kept their composure and soon found chances of their own with Barcelona pushing so many numbers forward -Gerard Pique playing just behind the front three.
There was drama aplenty in the final 10 minutes with Barcelona throwing everything. Neymar had a good look at the equalizer, but Shkodran Mustafi blocked the shot with his body.
Valencia then should have put the match to bed on a counter but somehow Paco Alcácer managed to fluff a shot from four yards out.
But the chance that will be remembered by the home crowd was the one that fell to Piqué who was left unmarked and had a clean look at goal at the far post but fired wide for the final opportunity as the Barcelona slump has now reached a new low.