Valencia and Barcelona returned to La Liga action on Sunday evening after midweek trips to England in the Champions League, and the honours were even - leaving Valencia in 14th place and Barcelona without a win in four La Liga outings.


The hosts hit the ground running and caught a sluggish Barca side off-guard when they took the lead with just a minute on the clock thanks to a close-range Ezequiel Garay header, but the champions bounced back before half-time with a powerful low drive from the edge of the area from, surprise surprise, Lionel Messi.

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Barcelona had the better of the second half but lacked that cutting edge as both sided laboured towards the full-time whistle. The result sees Barcelona second in La Liga, behind the new leaders Sevilla after their 2-1 victory over Celta Vigo.


Check out the breakdown of the game below.


Barcelona


Key Talking Point


After victory against Tottenham in midweek, Barcelona looked well equipped to find their domestic form and return to the top of La Liga. 

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However, they looked sluggish throughout and even during prolonged periods of possession, they struggled to make Valencia looked worried throughout the duration of the match. 


Manager Ernesto Valverde has to find a way of getting this team of stars to find their way in the league after failing to record a win in their last four. They have somewhat got away with it so far, sitting just a point behind the leaders, but the longer this run goes on, the more opponents will fancy their chances against them and that could spell trouble for the Catalan giants.


Player Ratings


Starting XI: Ter Stegen (6); Semedo (6); Pique (6); Rakitic (6); Busquets (7); Coutinho (5); Arthur (7); Suarez (6); Messi (8); Alba (6); Vermaelen (6). 


Substitutes: Dembele (6); Rafinha (N/A).


STAR MAN - Lionel Messi was by no means at his dazzling best during this one, but Barcelona's talisman showed touches of quality throughout and stepped up for his team when they needed him. 

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After somehow finding his way past two Valencia defenders, Messi played a neat one-two on the edge of the box before unleashing a powerful low shot into the bottom corner to get Barca back on terms and drag them back into the game.


WORST PLAYER - Philippe Coutinho was very poor throughout the match and did little to aid Barcelona's chances of victory. The former Liverpool man appeared lethargic and when presented with a half-chance towards the end of the game never really looked like scoring.


Valencia


Key Talking Point


Valencia have recorded only one win so far in La Liga this season, so you can understand why people fancied Barcelona for this one, despite their own struggles.


However, the early goal by Garay after just one minute boosted them to put in a solid performance which they looked relatively comfortable in throughout. Whilst their search for a second win continues, Valencia will take great confidence from completing a week that included fixtures against Manchester United and Barcelona without defeat.


Player Ratings


Starting XI: Neto (7); Piccini (6); Garay (7); Paulista (6); Gaya (6); Soler (6); Parejo (6); Kondogbia (7); Guedes (6); Batshuayi (6); Gameiro (5).


Substitutes: Cheryshev (7); Rodrigo (6); Coquelin (6).

Valencia CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga

STAR MAN - Whilst it wasn't exactly a wonder goal, Garay's positioning and quick reactions saw him score Valencia's goal after a positive start from the hosts. Add that to a solid performance at the back to keep the likes of Messi and Suarez quiet to all-in-all make it a great evening for the Argentinian defender.


WORST PLAYER - Against the likes of Barcelona, it is unlikely that strikers are going to get endless opportunities to score. However, when presented with them, Kevin Gameiro was wasteful for Valencia and he was reluctant to track back with the rest of his teammates.


Looking Ahead


Barcelona will be desperate to turn their fortunes around after the international break, but it won't come easy for them. 


Their next two La Liga matches come in the form of home games to Sevilla and Real Madrid, with a Champions League tie against Inter in between just to make it even more difficult.