Barcelona suffered a shock 3-2 defeat at home to Valencia last night, and threw the La Liga title race wide open.
Barcelona went into the game on top of the league, but on a sticky run of form. They had won just one out of three in the Primera Division, but were still red hot favourites against a mid table Valencia side.
It seemed like business as usual on 7 minutes when Alexis Sanchez scored what only be described as a fortuitous goal. Valencia refused to lie down, they equalised just before half time through Parejo. Three minutes after the break, Los Che took the lead, Piatti outjumping Dani Alves to nod past Valdes.
Barcelona threw everything they had at Valencia, but still had to rely on the referees help for an equaliser. A harsh handball decision was given against Ricardo Costa, and Messi made no mistake from the penalty spot. The equilibrium was short lived. Five minutes later, Pablo Alcacer stroked the ball past Valdes to give the away side a decisive lead. To compound Martino’s misery, Jordi Alba was shown the red card with twelve minutes remaining.
Barcelona had twice as many shots, and twice as much possession, as Valencia, but they were profligate in front of goal. Their defence looked vulnerable every time Valencia attacked. Worrying signs for Tata Martino as his team prepare to face free-scoring Manchester City in the Champion’s League.
This is a significant blow for Barca’s title chances. Ateltico Madrid and Real Madrid could both go above them tonight. Barcelona are still top, on goal difference, but on current form they have to be regarded as the outsiders of the three.