Xavi Becomes Savior For Barça
Even though the final score indicated that Los Ches had the upper hand against Barcelona, there was still a sour taste in their mouths. Valencia knew that they would have left the Nou Camp with a 1-0 lead and if they would have a repeat performance at Mestalla they would be in the Copa del Rey final.
Barça had well over 67% of ball possession and they could not pierce an inspired Timo Hildebrand and Valencia defense. Yet this never say die blaugrana were a threat until the final play when Samuel Eto'o bum rushed into the Valencia box and unleashed a shot that Hildebrand saved, but the rebound went out to Xavi and he blasted it into the back corner to unleash the pented up frustration and joy of the culé faithful. From the first minute, both sides left it all on the pitch and they left everyone with a sensation of being satisfied for the money they paid for their ticket.
This is the bad news for Valencia. Barcelona are in a zone in which they cannot lose, they truly believe that they are destined for even greater things and Real Madrid know that they are in a true dogfight from now until the end of the season- on two fronts. Thierry Henry is definitely part of the team and has gelled. He knows his role and so does the rest of the team. They all know that there will always be a player that steps up to the plate when the money is on the table. Xavi Hernández is probably one of the ten best players on the planet right now. His play in the past few days along with his clutch goals make him an obvious choice.
There is still quite a bit that Barça have to improve on. Their backline is their Achilles' heel. In games against Celtic, and Valencia they stood out and in the few opportunities they gave their opponents, they cashed in.
For Valencia, it is not the end of the road, but the chips are stacked up against them. There is a high probability that the culé attack could score two or more goals on Valencia, but they showed a great deal of potential for the future. Ronald Koeman seems to be righting the ship a little slower than expected, but his incorporations are starting to adjust. Ever Banega and Hedwiges Maduro look to be the future of the club, while David Villa... well he's David Villa.
Timo Hildebrand is finding his niche in Spain and will make people forget eventually of Santiago Cañizares' recent woes. Although one makes that evaluation, logic says something different. Some think Koeman will not be there to see any success as he burned several bridges at Mestalla with his military-coup like takeover that left several casualties and scapegoats out there to dry.
Barcelona 1-1 Valencia
BAR: Xavi (90'+5')
VAL: Villa (70')
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