Barcelona had to heavily rely on Lionel Messi to bring back a point against Valencia (2-2) on Saturday. The Argentine genius, who scored twice, was the most vibrant Blaugrana against a very formidable Valencia team. 

In the standings, Barca still remains comfortably in the lead but can see Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid come closer to the top of the table after Sunday.

At Camp Nou, the captain of Barcelona scored his 20th and 21st goal of the La Liga, this season. Messi scored first from a penalty in the 39th minute, and then from a clear shot outside the box in the 64th minute. Earlier, the Frenchman Kevin Gameiro (24th minute) and captain Dani Parejo (32nd minute) gave the advantage to the Valencians.

Messi, who chained a ninth consecutive game with at least one goal scored, nevertheless remained on the sidelines for a long time to have his right thigh treated before re-entering the game to add relief to the Barca die-hards. In the standings of La Liga, this draw does not do the huge business for Barca (1st, 50 pts), but could see back on his heels Atletico Madrid (2nd, 44 pts), facing Real Betis on Sunday, and Real Madrid (3rd, 39 pts), who welcome Alaves on the same date.

But all of Catalonia is likely to worry for the next few hours for the physical state of Lionel Messi before a crucial month. The Argentine was hit in the thigh at the worst time, before facing Real Madrid on Wednesday. Barca’s schedule includes three successive (February 6th and 27th, March 2nd) and the round of 16 first leg of the Champions League in Lyon on February 19th.

Barcelona took high risks

Barcelona left Camp Nou with great frustration and with a large expenditure of energy. The opponents led 2-0 after half an hour of play. The opportunists Valencians took the advantage thanks to two counter-attacks. First, a breakthrough of the amazing Rodrigo, saluted by Gameiro (24th minute), author of his first goal since November before being forced to leave the field due to a head-to-head collision with Gerard Pique. As time ticked on, Daniel Wass was shoved in the box by Sergi Roberto. A logical penalty, transformed by Dani Parejo (32nd minute), and immediately a defensive curtain unfolded in front of the Valencia goal.

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Untenable Messi 

As often in these cases, it was Messi who pulled his team out of the hole. The Argentinian first smoothly converted a penalty earned by Nelson Semedo just before the break (39th minute), which gave hope to Camp Nou. After the entry of his best partner, Jordi Alba at the break, Messi was untenable and ended up being rewarded from a pin-point shot sent from just outside the area to the back of the net in the 64th minute.

Camp Nou worried for Leo 

In the last half an hour, Barca tried to snatch the victory, and all three points, but all of Camp Nou held his breath in a cathedral when Messi left the field in the 70th minute to have a long massage in the right thigh. The Blaugrana captain eventually resumed his place, signalling that everything was fine, but the concern is likely to seize Barcelona. Especially, since La Liga race could get tighter after Sunday night if Atletico and Real win their respective matches.

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