Barcelona kept themselves in the La Liga title race with another comeback special to defeat Valencia at the Camp Nou, thanks to a brace from Lionel Messi.
The Catalan club have been forced to rally on too many occasions this term, with their early deficit against Voro’s men the latest in their slow starts.
Eliaquim Mangala handed the visitors the lead, only for Luis Suarez to equalise before Lionel Messi put Luis Enrique’s side ahead from the penalty spot before the break, with the Valencia defender dismissed in the build-up.
Munir levelled the scores against his parent club before Messi put the hosts ahead once again, while Andre Gomes stuck it to his critics with a late strike to secure the win.
Barcelona’s resilience has been the driving force behind the club remaining in contention in both La Liga and the Champions League; no match proves this more than their remarkable comeback against Paris Saint-Germain in the round-of-16, defeating Unai Emery’s men 6-1 on home soil.
The team spirit shown by Enrique’s men will stand them in excellent stead down the stretch and keep the squad believing, despite Real Madrid’s lead at the top of the table, while they face a similar challenge in the Champions League in the last eight against Juventus.
With a game in hand, Real can extend their advantage to five points, leaving Barca with a huge challenge to overhaul their El Clasico rivals. The odds are against Barcelona overcoming their rivals, although in Europe it’s a different story; the Catalan side are the leading contender with Paddy Power to win the Champions League at 11/4.
The international break allows Enrique and his side to regroup for the run-in, where they will face their bitter rivals among several other sides in the top six of the table. As a result, Messi, Suarez and Neymar will need to continue to be flawless – like they have for the majority of the campaign.
Messi alone has bailed out his side on numerous occasions this season. The Argentine has been on the spot late in matches to clinch all three points for his team against Leganes, Atletico Madrid and Valencia, which alone have earned Barcelona six points. Without those goals, the Catalan club would have no chance of competing for the crown.
The 29-year-old has always been Barcelona’s leading star, but his value this term has never been more important along with Suarez, with a lack of support in behind the duo.
Even Neymar has managed only eight strikes in the league this term, while Rafinha and Ivan Rakitic have notched six and five goals respectively.
This reliance on Messi and Suarez has made Barcelona fairly one dimensional and short of ideas when the duo have been shut down.
Their defeat at the hands of Deportivo La Coruna highlighted this fact: Enrique’s men were in dire need of someone else to take the match by the scruff of the neck and fire their side out of trouble.
In their remaining matches of the season against quality outfits, Barca will need the rest of their squad to stand up and be counted. Neymar did deliver in the Champions League against PSG, although in Europe’s elite competition the challenge will be even stiffer against the resolute backline boasted by Juventus.
For Enrique to end his tenure on the highest of notes, the rest of his squad will need to fire to support their leading duo.