This week’s La Liga Game of the Week saw Barcelona overcome a challenging Valencia side to secure a 2-1 victory at the Camp Nou.
Barca will have been justified had they come into the game with a degree of trepidation, knowing full well that the fourth placed side posed a credible threat to their unbeaten record.
However, the hosts put the handle on the game from the early stages – taking the lead in the 15th minute when Luis Suarez netted near post after Philippe Coutinho’s exquisite slide-rule pass.
The Uruguayan’s emphatic celebrations have been a regular occurrence this season, with him having hit 23 goals in 28 games on his way to 100 points.
Equally, the Brazilian will have been delighted to have contributed to the goal.
The 25-year-old has dropped off the exceptional rate of goals and assists he was delivering at Liverpool following his big money move but moments like this show he is certainly beginning to settle in at his new club.
He again highlighted his ability once again when Umtiti headed in from his whipped cross to double Barcelona’s lead on 51 minutes – punishment for a Valencia side that had missed a number of high quality chances.
With nine goals and 11 assists across the two leagues, Coutinho’s 77 points this season and will be a hot favourite to really kick on next campaign.
With the game seemingly tied up, Dani Parejo added a touch of spice when he converted from the spot to score his seventh goal of the campaign after Dembele was penalised for a foul in the 87th minute – the hard shot squirming under Marc ter Stegen’s body.
ter Stegen will have been disappointed to have conceded the goal so late on, with the German on the cusp of an 18th clean sheet of 2017/18.
The penalty added a touch of drama to the final moments of the game but the hosts were good value for the victory in truth, seeing the tie through to the finish as they secured an 25 win of the campaign to put them on 82 points.
The victory puts Barcelona another step closer towards claiming this season’s La Liga title, though second placed Atletico Madrid did secure a 3-0 victory over the weekend.
The Catalans next see action against Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final, whilst Valencia travel to Celta Vigo as they look to consolidate a qualification place for next season’s Champions League.
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