Valencia vs Barcelona result: Five things we learned from boring Setien-ball to life after Rodrigo

While Barcelona try to rediscover their spark, the end result is that Real Madrid could now take control of what is an incredibly tight title race

Saturday 25 January 2020 17:51
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Lionel Messi could do nothing to stop Barcelona's defeat
Lionel Messi could do nothing to stop Barcelona's defeat

1) Setien-ball fails to inspire

Sterile possession and devoid of imagination beyond his specific philosophy, Quique Setien will require time to snap Barcelona out of this lull, which makes his appointment mid-season so peculiar.

The visitors had the overwhelming majority of possession at the Mestalla throughout this contest, yet when Maxi Gomez stabbed the ball towards goal after the break, with Jordi Alba’s deflection ensuring it found its way into the back of the net, there was a sense of inevitability. Marc-Andre ter Stegen had performed heroics to ensure his side remained level, but Valencia, with far less time on the ball, had conjured up many, many more clear-cut chances.

Yes, Luis Suarez is out and will not return for several months at least, but Setien already faces a backlash if he presides over such a blunt, unimaginative Barcelona.

2) Gomez makes amends

And how. When Maxi Gomez missed a penalty, saved by Ter Stegen, Valencia must have felt their chance had slipped away. But the Uruguay international persevered and struck twice in the second half to sink Barcelona, the second with a sublime curling finish into the far corner. Having turned down West Ham in the summer, Gomez is flying at the Mestalla with his ninth and tenth goals this season against the champions, while Valencia are beginning to get their money’s worth from a £40m transfer.

3) Valencia will have life after Rodrigo

It looks like this could be the end for Rodrigo at Valencia. The 28-year-old Spain international is set to depart, with Barcelona touted as a possible destination, and that was why the striker was left out of the team this afternoon. Rodrigo has struggled for goals this season with only two Liga strikes in 17 appearances, well short of the form that saw him get 16 in 2017/18. But Gomez is showing that there is life after Rodrigo, while the consistent goalscoring by Dani Parejo from midfield has proved an important addition. If Kevin Gameiro can refind his scoring touch then Valencia will soon move on.

4) Ter Stegen performing the De Gea role

If this match was anything to go by then Ter Stegen could start to become an awful lot busier under Setien, at least until the manager’s plans bed in. Here the German was reminiscent of the Spanish No1, David de Gea, making crucial saves to make a super club, in De Gea’s case Manchester United, look better than they really are. If this is Ter Stegen’s role for the next few weeks, they could scarcely call upon a safer pair of hands.

5) Advantage Real Madrid

While Barcelona try to rediscover their spark, the end result is that Real Madrid can now take control of what is an incredibly tight title race. Real have some favourable fixtures coming up and a win over Valladolid on Sunday will see them climb above their fierce rivals. Within one outstanding team, this season might come down to a matter of a point or two, and it is days like this one that Barca could well rue in May.

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