Valencia 2-0 Barcelona: LaLiga 2019/20 week 21
Valencia 2-0 Barcelona: as it happened
Peep peep peeep! Barcelona are beaten! You can't say Valencia don't deserve it. Once again, Quique Setién's side had almost all of the possession, but it was Los Che who were much the more effective side going forward.
Having been utterly innocuous in the first half, Barça did improve a little after the break, with Lionel Messi going close on a few occasions; simply put, however, the hosts did far more with far less all afternoon.
Indeed, their greater attacking thrust might even have brought more than just the two goals - particularly when Maxi Gómez spurned a penalty and Gabriel Paulista's volley was ruled out for a push on Sergio Busquets.
As it is, Jordi Alba's own goal and Gómez's low late finish give Valencia a first LaLiga win over Barcelona since April 2016, leaving Setién with much to think about. His first three games have yielded a scratchy win over Granada, near-embarrassment against lowly Ibiza, and a fully merited defeat at Mestalla.
Real Madrid now have the opportunity to go three points clear when they take on Real Valladolid on Sunday night.
That's all from me - thanks for reading!
Vidal feeds Messi, who drives into the Valencia box and shoots from an angle - but Doménech beats it out. Messi must have had about 15 shots in this second half.
Jaume Costa brings down Messi in prime Messi-free-kick territory. Can he set up a grandstand finish? No. He blazes it over.
Four minutes of time added on.
Valencia bring off Soler, who gets a huge ovation from the Mestalla faithful as he makes his way to the touchline. He is replaced by Rubén Sobrino.
The ball drops to Rakitic to shoot just outside the area, but it's blocked. Barcelona are heading for their first LaLiga defeat to Valencia in nearly four years: they last lost to Los Che in Primera División was in April 2016.
Messi swivels and shoots, but it's comfortable for Doménech.
Barcelona make two changes, Ivan Rakitic and Álex Collado coming on for De Jong and Ansu Fati.
Jaume Costa came on for Valencia right after their second goal, I neglected to tell you. He replaced the scorer, Gómez.
From the resulting corner, Gabriel powers a volley past Ter Stegen and into the net, but Valencia's celebrations are cut short when the referee penalises the Brazilian for a foul on Busquets.
We go to VAR... and the verdict - finally - is that the corner has to be retaken, apparently because the infringement took place before the ball was played. The second corner is cleared.
Barcelona are on the ropes now. Valencia poor forward once more, Torres slipping in Soler in space on the right-hand side of the box... but Umtiti is there to clear the danger.
This one definitely will go down as a Maxi Gómez goal! 2-0 to Valencia!
Ferran Torres beats Umtiti and cuts in from the right wing, before showing real sang froid to lay a perfectly-weighted ball across the Barcelona backline to Gómez. With time and space to pick his spot, the Uruguayan steadies himself and threads a pintpoint finish past Ter Stegen and into the far corner!
Coquelin lifts a through ball into the right-hand channel for Rodrigo to chase, but Umtiti is always going to get there first and the Valencia forward ends up bringing the Frenchman down.
But back come Valencia moments later, and...
Valencia have barely been out of their half since they scored. Garay brings down Griezmann on the edge of the box, and Messi will have another chance to shoot.
Messi strikes the free-kick powerfully towards the corner... but Doménech beats it away, to huge cheers from the Mestalla fans!
Again Messi goes close! Griezmann swings over a left-wing cross that the No. 10 meets with a firm header - but it flies just past the post! He's had a fair few efforts on goal now.
Barcelona keep the ball for about three minutes, before Alba touches the ball back to Messi to shoot from the left-hand corner of the box - and the Argentina's deft chip towards the far corner is just inches over! It would have been a carbon copy of his strike against Real Betis last term.
Rodrigo turns Piqué and tries to slip in Gómez, but his pass is overhit.
Up the other end, De Jong looks to play in Griezmann, but can't locate the Frenchman's angled run and the ball rolls through to Doménech.
The Valencia goal took such a big touch off Alba, it seems, that it has in fact been given as an own goal by the Barcelona left-back.
Valencia make their first substitution, replacing Gameiro with Rodrigo Moreno.
Close! Messi fires a low, angled shot that has Doménech scrambling to get to his left-hand corner, but it flashes just wide!
Barça are starting to look far more threatening going forward.
What a challenge by Gabriel! Messi had almost carved out space to shoot after combining with Vidal a few moments earlier, and the Argentine is quickly on the ball in the box once more. Alba pings in a wonderful low cross that Messi controls and prepares to bury, only for Gabriel to get a very, very timely block in!
Barcelona make their first change, hooking Arthur and sending on Arturo Vidal in his stead.
Coquelin is booked for bringing down Messi as the Barcelona forward breaks at pace. As stonewall a yellow card as you'll ever see.
It's been really lively in these opening 10 minutes of the second half. Gómez lays the ball off for Soler to curl towards Gameiro at the far post, and only the presence of Umtiti deprives the striker of what would have been a point-blank range chance.
Busquets sees yellow for bringing down Soler. It's a promising free-kick for Valencia... but the delivery is poor and Ter Stegen gathers.
Right away, Barcelona create an opportunity to equalise - and De Jong should do much better. The ball falls to the Dutchman in space to shoot inside the box, but he can only scuff a trundler straight into Doménech's arms.
And Valencia respond to that warning by opening the scoring!
Maxi Gómez atones for his first-half penalty miss by controlling on the right-hand side of the box and drilling in a shot that flies past Ter Stegen, via a big old deflection off Jordi Alba!
It's no more than the hosts deserve.
Within 30 seconds, Barcelona carve out the kind of chance they spent the whole of the first half failing to come up with. Messi receives just outside the box and slips in Fati with a neat angled pass, but the young forward directs his shot well past Doménech's right-hand post. Possibly should have hit with his left rather than his right.
Peeeep! We're back up and running at Mestalla.
"Ter Stegen and ten others"
"Under Setién, Barcelona are Ter Stegen and ten others," says AS' Tomás Roncero.
Piqué penalty pain for Valencia
"Gerard Piqué has given away two penalties against Valencia, both of which were saved by the Barcelona goalkeeper," note stats specialists Opta. "Like Maxi Gómez's today, Dani Parejo's was kept out in 2015."
Peep peep peeep!
That's half time at Mestalla, where the referee is treated to deafening jeers by a home crowd still seething about advantage-gate.
Barcelona have had most of the ball; Valencia have had all of the chances.
Two minutes of time added on at Mestalla.
Umtiti was booked for that foul, by the way.
Valencia are fuming with referee Jesús Gil Manzano after he fails to play the advantage. Umtiti barrels through the back of Gómez and Gil quickly blows for a foul - but if he had waited for just a second or two, he would have seen that Soler had zipped the ball out wide to Torres, who had acres of space to run forward into.
Gil is very apologetic, but that doesn't seem to assuage the ire of either the players or the home fans.
Wass sends a ball into the Barcelona box that is easily dealt with, and the visitors begin another very, very, very patient bit of build-up play. Messi finally exchanges passes with Busquets and almost gets himself into a position to shoot from 18 yards, but is muscled out of it by Valencia's ever-attentive centre-backs.
Valencia get themselves in a mess as they bring the ball out, Soler giving it away and, in the process, presenting Arthur with a chance to find Messi in shooting space inside the box. The Brazilian's pass is overhit, though, and the hosts survive.
Soler is penalised for a foul on Messi 30 yards or so from goal, and Barcelona have a second chance to do damage with a direct free-kick. However, Messi's attempt is easy for Doménech.
Messi tries to run at the Valencia backline, but Garay steps in to take the ball off the Argentine, once more sparking cheers of approval from the Mestalla crowd.
Valencia have created all the chances so far.
Again Valencia get a shot away, Coquelin stinging Ter Stegen's palms with a low strike from the edge of the box! It was well hit, but right down the goalkeeper's gullet.
Double chance for Valencia! First, Gómez gets the ball out of his feet and thunders a strike towards the top corner. Ter Stegen gets his fingers to it and pushes it onto the corner of post and bar, before Gameiro skews the rebound just wide!
Thankfully for Valencia, Messi absolutely skies it.
Messi tries to jink his way towards the Valencia box, but is well dispossessed by Gabriel, cuing roars of approval from the home support.
Moments later, Messi again picks the ball up in the opposition half and buys a cheap foul off Kevin Gameiro. That's very clumsy from the striker: he's handed Messi a very presentable free-kick opportunity.
Barcelona knock it about in front of the Valencia defence for a good 90 seconds or so, before Fati is finally dispossessed and Los Che make an abortive attempt to break at pace. "I don't think Barça have touched the ball inside the Valencia area yet," notes one of the commentators on Spanish TV.
It's all pass-pass-pass from Barcelona, but Valencia have carved out the openings so far. They almost force a Barça own goal when Torres' right-wing cross bounces off a Piqué's shins, requiring a smart Ter Stegen reaction to prevent it from going over the line.
Gayà again puts on the after-burners and speeds down the left wing, before whipping over a low ball towards Gómez on the edge of the Barcelona box. Piqué and Umtiti are there to deal with the danger, though.
Having survived that penalty, Barcelona are back to their pass-tastic ways... before Busquets plays an uncharacteristically sloppy ball that De Jong has no hope of reaching, and Valencia finally get it back.
Maxi Gómez takes... and Ter Stegen saves! He's quite a good goalkeeper. Gómez's penalty is a nice height for him and isn't far enough into the corner, admittedly.
The hosts may have barely touched it, but they have a penalty!
Soler feeds Gayà, who drives past two men and into the area, before being brought down by Piqué!
The Barcelona defender is booked for the foul.
Valencia have barely touched it so far. Barcelona have had 89% of the possession, to be precise. That domination of the ball hasn't translated into any openings thus far, though.
Despite what I told you pre-match, Barça do seem to be operating with a back three once more, by the way, with Sergi Roberto again in the unfamiliar role of centre-back.
It's pretty much been all Barcelona ball so far. Messi picks up the ball in a dangerous area for the first time, but Coquelin is in position to dispossess the Argentina as he shapes to shoot. Moments later, Garay blocks as Messi again looks to test Doménech in the Valencia goal.
Garay pings it forward and the Barcelona defence has to look alive to prevent Gameiro from getting on the end of it on the edge of the box. The Frenchman takes a bit of blow to the head as he battles for the ball, but looks like he'll be OK.
Peeeep! We're underway.
The teams are out at Mestalla, where our match referee is Jesús Gil Manzano. Handshakes done, coin toss done... let battle commence!
Ugly scenes outside Mestalla
Ahead of what is a mouth-watering clash, a game of football we're all looking forward to, there have been some pre-match scenes that no-one wants to see, involving people who seem intent on ruining it all for the rest of us.
Valencia vs Barcelona: how and where to watch?
If you're currently asking yourself how you can watch the match at Mestalla, by the way, then you may wish to peruse our guide on precisely that pressing issue.
Rodrigo rumours dominate Saturday newspapers in Catalonia
As Barcelona look to fill a Luis Suárez-sized hole in their attacking options, their apparent interest in Valencia's Rodrigo Moreno was the topic dominating the front pages of the Catalan press this morning.
"Rodrigo adds edge to Valencia clash", said Mundo Deportivo, who add that a Barça player, possibly Carles Pérez, could be included in a deal for the Spain international.
Meanwhile, Sport lead with the headline: "Setién and Rodrigo under the microscope".
Valencia, Barcelona learn Copa fate
Incidentally, today's sides both found out the identity of their next Copa opponents in Friday's last-16 draw. Holders Valencia were given a clash with Cultural Leonesa - who are, of course, fresh from dumping Atlético Madrid out in the third round - while Barcelona will take on Leganés in one of the stage's two all-Primera ties.
Rested trio back for Barcelona after missing Ibiza trip
As the leaders look to add another three points to those won at the Camp Nou last Sunday, they welcome back key trio Gerard Piqué, Sergio Busquets and Lionel Messi, who all sat out the trip to Ibiza.
In all, there are two changes to the team that beat Granada six days ago, as Arthur Melo comes in and Frenkie de Jong returns from LaLiga suspension, with Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal dropping to the bench.
Having played with three at the back in Setién's first two games as boss, all the indications are that Barcelona will be reverting to a four-man defence today.
Barcelona "must improve" after narrow Ibiza escape, says Setién
Having beaten Granada 1-0 in LaLiga in Quique Setién's first game in charge a week ago, meanwhile, Barcelona arrive at Mestalla fresh from an almighty scare in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, having needed two late Antoine Griezmann goals - the second of which in the 94th minute - to squeak past third-tier Ibiza.
"We played poorly in Ibiza and must improve," said Setién in his pre-match press conference yesterday, admitting: "I got a huge fright, I'm not going to lie."
Barcelona-linked Rodrigo on the bench for Valencia
Geoffrey Kondogbia comes into the midfield in Parejo's absence, while Celades also makes two further changes to the side beaten by Mallorca, with Ezequiel Garay and Ferran Torres returning to the line-up. Rodrigo Moreno - a player being linked with a move to Barça - has recovered from a knee injury but is only on the bench.
Hosts without influential Parejo for Barcelona visit
Albert Celades' men will have to do without Dani Parejo as they bid to close the four-point gap on fourth-placed Sevilla, however. Valencia's captain and playmaker-in-chief is suspended today, after being sent off for two bookings in the defeat to Mallorca.
Valencia out to bounce back from Mallorca mauling
Valencia may have beaten Logroñés in midweek to reach the last 16 of the Copa del Rey, but they're also reeling from a 4-1 walloping by relegation-threatened Real Mallorca last time out in LaLiga.
Los Che sit outside of the European places following that defeat, but they're still well within touch of the top four as they welcome the leaders to Mestalla.
Barcelona team news
Starting line-up: Ter Stegen, S. Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Alba, Arthur, Busquets, De Jong, Fati, Messi, Griezmann
Substitutes: Peña, Junior, Rakitic, Collado, Vidal, Lenglet, Semedo
Valencia team news
Starting line-up: Doménech, Wass, Garay, Gabriel, Gayà, Coquelin, Kondogbia, Soler, M. Gómez, Gameiro, Torres
Substitutes: Rivero, Mangala, Kang-In, Jaume Costa, Esquerdo, Sobrino, Rodrigo
Valencia vs Barcelona: welcome one and all
Welcome to our live coverage of Barcelona's visit to Valencia in what, on paper at least, is the game of the weekend in LaLiga.
Kick-off is at 16:00 CET, about an hour from now, and the team news is in at Mestalla. So let's get straight to it...