In the rather one-sided Spanish league I have done little to follow my favourites of Valencia, who are struggling in the middle, and in the recent transfer window got rid of more players (Valencia has gotten rid of of 12 players since July, including Soldado, Guardado, Cissikho, Gago, Albelda, Tino Costa, and now most recently, Ever Banega, who nevertheless never really managed to make his mark in the struggling club), and are not close to even a Europa league spot in the Spanish league.
So it was not with great optimism or expectations that I turned on the TV to watch Valencia visit FC Barcelona in mighty Camp Nou. Valencia have not won there since 2003, and in fact had not defeated FC Barcelona in a league match since 2007. No reason to be expectant; just a glimmer of hope.
But I am delighted to say that Valencia can still surprise me!
They went 1-0 down early in the match, but in the end of the first half they punished lack of concentration and organization in the Catalonian defense and Daniel Parejo equalized. Shortly after Pablo Piatti brought Valencia ahead FC Barcelona got some of their usual referee assistance when they were awarded an outrageous penalty kick for an unexistant handball. Messi made it 2-2 (his first league goal since September 2012!), and then my glimmer of hope got a bit dimmer.
But Valencia did it: Francisco Alcacer scored a third for the Valencians after an excellent run by Sofiane Feghouli. And it ended like that even, even though Messi came close to an equalizer. But in the end it was the right result for a Valencia side that needed this so much (and little did I realize that so did I).
FC Barcelona are now set to lose first spot in the league to either Atletico Madrid or Real Madrid. This is fantastic for the Spanish league, if not for the Catalonians, who will nevertheless always have referees to support them.