Evening all! Our final La Liga match of the evening comes from the Mestalla as Valencia
welcome the champions Barcelona. It has been a mixed start for the home side with an opening-day win against Malaga followed by defeat to Espanyol last time out. Barcelona, however, have picked up six points from a possible six thus far.
In terms of the recent meetings between the two sides, it does not make good reading for Valencia. Barcelona have won three of the last five games, with the other two ending in a draw. The home side did manage to claim a 1-1 draw in the corresponding match last season, however, which was also the same score when the two sides met in the Copa del Rey in February 2012.
Barcelona did pick up the first trophy of the new season last week following a 0-0 draw with Atletico Madrid in the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup at the Camp Nou. Valencia will surely take heart from Atletico’s performance in that particular match, however, with Diego Simeone finding a way to stifle the La Liga champions over the course of the 90 minutes.
VALENCIA XI: Alves; Pereira, Rami, Ricardo Costa, Guardado; Javi Fuego, Michel; Pabon, Banega, Canales; Postiga
BARCELONA XI: Valdes; Alves, Mascherano, Pique, Jordi Alba; Fabregas, Busquets, Iniesta; Pedro, Messi, Neymar
So there we have it. New-look Valencia side this evening with Pabon making his debut, while there are also starts for Sergio Canales and Michel. Barcelona, meanwhile, continue with Neymar and Lionel Messi
in attack, but Xavi is not selected in the XI. Right, the home side get the action underway on this warm evening in Valencia.
It is 27 degrees inside the stadium this evening, which is harsh on the players. As expected, the Mestalla is absolutely packed out for this La Liga encounter. Valencia will be keen to resume winning ways this evening, but Barcelona will want to keep pace with Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid in the early stages of the new campaign.
As expected, Barcelona have taken control of the possession in the opening four minutes with Fabregas and Iniesta enjoying touches of the ball in and around the Valencia box. You just get the feeling that Valencia need to score first this evening if they are to have a chance of taking something against the champions.
Plenty of energy about the home side in the opening stages at the Mestalla with the home supporters in good voice this evening. It's good work from Canales as the Valencia midfielder collects a pass from Fuego before finding Pabon, but Pique is across to clear at the vital moment. I think Barcelona know that they are in a game this evening. This place is absolutely jumping.
Canales is involved once more as the former Real Madrid midfielder evades the challenge of two defenders before finding an effort towards the bottom corner, but Valdes is comfortable making the save. Barcelona attempt to break down the other end with Pedro, but the Spanish midfielder was always moving into traffic.
First sign of Messi as the Argentine collects possession inside the box before striking towards the bottom corner, but it was always moving wide of the post. Neymar is involved down the right moments later, but his cross is into the arms of Alves. End-to-end opening 10 minutes of football at the Mestalla.
CHANCE! Clearest opening of the match comes to Neymar as the Brazilian beats the offside trap before advancing into the box, but he loses control at the vital moment. The former Santos striker does have the ball in the back of the net moments later, but the flag is raised. Bright start from Neymar.
GOAL! Valencia 0-1 Barcelona (Messi)
Barcelona have the lead inside 11 minutes as Messi collects a pass from Fabregas before rounding the goalkeeper and sliding his effort into the back of the net. It had been coming. First blood to the Catalan outfit in the Mestalla.
It fell kindly for Messi there is no question about that, but they say that you make your own luck in football. Valencia attempt to advance down the other end with Pabon, but he cannot find Postiga with a low pass. It is important that Valencia stay in the match for the next five minutes or so.
Neymar has been very bright in the opening 17 minutes of football with the Brazilian again coming close to beating the offside trap. Wonderful movement about the Barcelona attack at the moment with Messi, Pedro and Neymar all causing problems in the final third. Valencia really need to find a way to stop that threat or they could be on the end of a hiding.
Pereira collects a yellow card for felling Neymar outside the penalty area. It has taken a bit of time for the Brazilian to settle in, but he has been sensational thus far. The resulting free kick is whipped into the box by Messi, it falls to Fabregas, but Rami is on hand to clear the danger. Barcelona are in control with 19 minutes on the clock.
Valencia are really struggling at the moment with Barcelona utterly dominating possession of the ball. Each time an attack does break down, they immediately regain the ball with the home side struggling to find players in the final third. It appears only a matter of time before the away side score their second. It would, quite probably, put the game to bed, even at this early stage.
More frustration for Pereira as the Portuguese loses possession in the Barcelona half, but Neymar cannot find Fabregas down the left. Valencia attempt to break with Canales moments later, but he is too isolated in the final third, eventually having to go backwards before Busquets comes across to clear the danger. Still 1-0 with 24 minutes on the clock in Valencia.
Iniesta is next to try his luck from outside the box as he collects a pass from Neymar before attempting to find the top corner, but his effort was always rising high and wide of the crossbar. In fairness to the home supporters, they remain in good voice, but their side is really struggling to contain this constant pressure.
Another half-chance for the away side as Fabregas tries his luck from outside the box, but Alves is down to make a fine save at the vital moment. Valencia attempt to break down the other end with Pabon, but the new signing loses possession before fouling Alves. Little over 15 minutes of the first period remaining.
Caution for Alba on his return to the Mestalla as the Barcelona left-back fells Pereira outside the box. It was a bit of a nothing challenge. The resulting free kick is whipped into the box by Canales, but Valdes comes a long way to punch. Better from Valencia. That will hand them confidence with little over 10 minutes of the first period remaining.
Half-chance for Pabon as the Colombian forward strikes an effort from outside the box, but Valdes is on hand to quell the danger. Barcelona break down the other end with Fabregas, but it is better from Valencia, who are starting to enjoy more of the ball in advanced areas. Suddenly we have an end-to-end game of football at the Mestalla.
It's good work down the right from Alves as the Brazilian drives a low cross into the box, but Rami just manages to clear under pressure from Messi. Alves manages to collect possession in a similar position moments later, but this time the flag is raised. Much more of an even contest as we approach the latter stages of the half.
CHANCE! Wonderful opportunity for the home side to level the scores as Pabon collects a pass from Canales before attempting to find the bottom corner, but Valdes is on hand to make a fine save. Brilliant response from Valencia in the last few moments. Can they equalise before the interval?
GOAL! Valencia 0-2 Barcelona (Messi)
Just when Valencia were starting to force the issue, Messi scores his second of the match. It's poor from Fuego, who loses possession in midfield, Messi collects and makes no mistake from close range. That could be game over.
GOAL! Valencia 0-3 Barcelona (Messi)
Devastating football. It's wonderful from Neymar as the Brazilian drives into the box before finding Messi, who slips his third into the back of the net from close range. That is indeed game over.
Well, that has changed the atmosphere inside the stadium. It was bouncing after Valencia had a good five or 10 minutes period, but that has now changed. This could get nasty for the home side if they concede another before the interval. Just stunning football from the champions of Spain.
Valencia have not even played that badly, but they find themselves 3-0 behind. Postiga attempts to cut the deficit moments later as he bursts into the Barcelona box, but Valdes is out to clear the danger. Not much time remaining in the first period at the Mestalla.
GOAL! Valencia 1-3 Barcelona (Postiga)
Good grief that is stunning from Postiga. The goal of the night from the Portuguese as he volleys a thumping effort into the top corner. Well, that has livened the atmosphere in the final minute of stoppage time. It is goals galore at the Mestalla.
GOAL! Valencia 2-3 Barcelona (Postiga)
WOW! Postiga has his second of the match in the latter stages of the half to cut the deficit to 3-2. That is just stunning. Where on earth was the Barcelona defence? Tremendous header from the Portuguese international.
HALF TIME: Valencia 2-3 Barcelona
So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to an end with Barcelona leading 3-2. They were three ahead with five minutes of the half remaining, but two goals from Postiga in the latter stages has moved the home side into the match. What a half of football at the Mestalla.
BENCH WATCH: The home side have a number of attacking options on their bench in the shape of Jonas, Juan Bernat and Feghouli. Meanwhile, Barcelona have the likes of Jonathan dos Santos, Cristian Tello and Sergi Roberto in reserve. Let's hope for more of the same in the second period.
STATISTICS: Barcelona have had 62% of the possession in the first period, but both sides have had eight attempts. At 3-0, I said it was game over and 99 times out of 100 it would be. But Valencia have given themselves real hope. It is so delicately poised ahead of the second 45 minutes.
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch for the second period. There have been no changes for either side at the interval, which is not much of a surprise. There is another La Liga match currently taking place, with Sevilla holding Malaga to a 1-1 draw at the interval. Right, the away side get the half underway.
We have had two minutes of the second period and neither side has scored yet - what is happening? Wake up! Barcelona force the first corner of the half after good work from Pedro, but Rami is on hand to clear the danger. Another Barcelona goal would surely kill the Valencia challenge. Well, I thought that would be the case at 3-0.
Another half-chance comes to the home side as Messi's free kick is met by Pique, but Rami just manages to clear the danger for a corner. The resulting set piece is whipped into the box by Pedro, but Valencia manage to clear the danger with Pabon leading the counter. Imagine this place if the home side manage to score a third.
Stop-start last couple of moments with both sides guilty of giving away a number of free kicks in and around the penalty area. The resulting set piece is delivered into the area by Banega, but Pique is on hand to clear the danger. The home side really need their supporters to become the 12th man as the second period continues to gather pace.
Good pressure from Valencia in the last few minutes with the likes of Canales and Michel seeing more of the ball. You just get the feeling that the next goal could decide this match. Guardado has an effort from outside the box moments later, but it was always rising high and wide of the crossbar.
We have not seen too much from Barcelona in the last 10 minutes or so with Valencia certainly the team forcing the issue. Pabon takes matters into his own hands when he collects possession outside the box before attempting to curl one towards the top corner, but it was always rising high and wide of the crossbar.
Valencia continue to force the issue with a series of deep crosses into the box, but Valves is comfortable dealing with the danger. Messi goes in search of his fourth down the other end moments later, but Alves is on hand to make the save. Little over 30 minutes of football remaining in the Mestalla.
Half-chance for Neymar to open his league tally for Barcelona as he comes close to meeting a deep cross from Messi, but Pereira manages to clear at the vital moment. It would not be a surprise to see either side look to their bench as we enter the final 30 minutes of football. You just get the feeling that we have not seen the last of the scoring this evening.
Another half-chance for Barcelona to score their fourth of the evening as Messi finds a pocket of space outside the box before curling an effort towards goal, but Alves is on hand to make the save. Good spell for the away side in the last few moments, who have just quelled some of the Valencia pressure.
CHANCE! Incredible chance for Pedro to put this game to bed as the Spaniard meets a cross from Iniesta, but somehow he plants his header wide of the post. Good grief how has he missed?! Little under 25 minutes of football remaining at the Mestalla. Can Valencia force an equaliser?
Frustration from the home supporters as another attack breaks down in the final third. The referee is called into action moments later as Mascherano appears to take a swipe at Postiga, but Jose Teixeira is not interested. Neymar has possession down the other end moments later, but Pereira clears for a corner.
Valencia make a double change as Jonas and Feghouli replace Banega and Canales, who has been impressive this evening. Little under 20 minutes for those two to make an impact. You just get the feeling that something is going to happen in the latter stages as Valencia have another handball claim turned down just inside the box.
Not too much to report in terms of chances in the last few moments with both sides struggling to keep possession in the final third. The double change for Valencia should provide them with more legs in the final third, however, which will stand them in good stead. Barcelona look to their bench moments later as Pedro is replaced by the pacey Tello.
Barcelona have just taken some of the sting out of the game in the last few moments with Valencia struggling to find their players in the final third. Just a reminder that Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid both won earlier this afternoon, therefore three points would move Barcelona level with the capital duo. However, there is still time for that to change.
Not too much to report in terms of opportunities in the last few moments, but Valencia do look a threat in the final third there is no question about that. It's good work from Jonas as the midfielder collects possession outside the box, but he is quickly surrounded by three defenders, before the whistle saves Valdes after the Barcelona stopper had fumbled.
It's bright work from Tello as the Spaniard bursts into the Valencia box before finding Iniesta, but Fuego is out to clear at the vital moment. Pabon is on the counter for the home side moments later, he finds Jonas, but the Brazilian's effort is wide of the post.
Ricardo Costa comes close to levelling the scores as he meets a corner from Jonas, but his header was always rising high and wide of the crossbar. Moments later, Barcelona make their second change of the match with Jonathan dos Santos entering the field for Fabregas, who has just tired in the last 10 minutes or so.
Valencia look to their bench for the third and final time this evening as Dani Parejo replaces Michel for the final five minutes of football. You just get the feeling that there is another big chance left in this one. Valencia, for their attitude if nothing else, deserve a point from this match. But Barcelona continue to quell each attack.
CHANCE! Incredible chance for Messi to score his fourth as he collects a pass from Iniesta before thumping a cross towards the bottom corner, but somehow it flashes wide of the post. I have never seen the little Argentine miss from that position!
CHANCE! Another wonderful opportunity for Messi to make it number four as he beats the offside trap, but once more Alves is out to make a fine save. Will Barcelona be made to pay for missed chances? Little over two minutes of normal time remaining.
POST! Valencia come within an inch of turning this match around as Jonas collects possession on the edge of the box before curling an effort towards the bottom corner, but it smashes against the post. End-to-end football in the last few moments.
Messi again comes close to finding the back of the net as he thumps an effort from close range, but Alves makes the save. Valencia have possession down the other end moments later, but Jonas can only head into the arms of Valdes. What an end to this match.
Busquets and Mascherano both receive a period of treatment following a clash inside the box, but neither leaves the field? What happened to that rule?! Barcelona make their third and final change moments later as Roberto replaces Neymar. Not long remaining at the Mestalla.
FULL TIME: Valencia 2-3 Barcelona
So there we have it. Stunning evening of football at the Mestalla as Barcelona hold on for all three points. Just four teams have 100% records in La Liga after three league games, with Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Villarreal joining the Catalan outfit. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action. Good evening!