Messi put in an extraordinary game to destroy the third placed team in La Liga and reiterate Barça’s faith in their chances of fighting for the La Liga title. The team showed immense character and commitment when they came back from a sticky looking situation – 13 points behind the leaders, trailing 0-1 to a Piatti goal on 9 minutes – to blow away Valencia.
Led by the four goal hero Messi and with Xavi putting the icing on the cake with the fifth, Barça could have won by an even wider margin, such was their superiority on the night.
The win leaves Barça 10 points behind Madrid in second place and will be a real boost ahead of a difficult game at the Vicente Calderón next Sunday.
Piatti puts Valencia ahead
A goal within the first 10 minutes from Piatti, who met a Feghouli cross from the right and took advantage of a mix up between Valdes and his defence, put the visitors one up before Barça really knew what had happened. Their response, however, was devastating with Pedro and Alexis opening up the flanks and Abidal and Montoya pushing forward from the full back positions, Barça were soon creating plenty of danger.
Messi brace leads fightback
After a somewhat cold start, Barça’s stars soon began to fire on all cylinders. Alexis, Cesc, Iniesta and Pedro were all at the top of their game and Messi was playing at his very best. The equaliser came after a Pedro cross from the left which Rami mis-cleared and Messi put away. Five minutes later, a great cross from Abidal allowed Messi to calmly make it 2-1 and as the team began to play some of their best football, Alexis and Cesc, with a spectacular bicycle kick that hit the bar, both came close to making it three before the break.
Domination without reward
The second half was all Barça, as the team made chance after chance, with Valencia keeper Diego Alves forced to make some excellent saves to keep Guardiola’s men out, but despite two great chances for Alexis and Cesc and a Messi header against the post, the score unbelievably stayed 2-1 as the game entered the last 15 minutes.
Four from Messi… and triumphal return for Xavi
Finally though, Valencia’s resistance broke, when Messi pounced on a parry from a Tello shot after the youngster had come on for Pedro, to claim his hat trick. Not content with that however, the world number one made it four with a brilliant chip over the keeper following a great through ball by Busquets.
Guardiola brought on Xavi, who has been struggling with a foot injury, and the Catalan midfielder responded with the fifth of the night to make the score a more realistic reflection of Barça’s domination on the night.