The performance of Lionel Messi was one of the few positives to come out of the Barcelona vs Valencia game at the weekend. Not only did Barcelona lose at the Nou Camp for the first time this season, the defeat meant that the Spanish champions slipped off the top of La Liga for the first time in well o0ver a season.
Last year the club led the way from the first day to the last and have done so this season as well, until an inspired performance from Valencia coincided with a poor one from Barca on Saturday. The loss was compounded with the sending off of Jordi Alba, but at least it was for two yellows and so the left back will only miss one game, the first leg of the Copa Del rey semi-final against Real Sociedad.
It was a frustrating game for Barca, who dominated the first half but could only manage to score once. And everything changed just before halftime when Valencia hit an unexpected equaliser. Barca never got going in the second half, despite taking the lead again from the penalty spot. Messi nearly took the net off as he ended his mini goal drought. You have to say that Valencia deserved the win. They wanted it more.
Messi has spoken to the Spanish press since the game and gave the Barca fans something to smile about, claiming that his injury problems and lack of fitness are pretty much forgotten now, which is just as well because the club are about to enter a tough and decisive stage of the season and will need the little magician to be back to his best.