Valencia hold Barcelona at Camp Nou

Valencia hold Barcelona at Camp Nou

The result allows second-placed Atletico Madrid, playing on Sunday, the chance to close the gap on leaders Barca to three points.

Then all the focus will be on Wednesday's clasico, the first leg of a Copa del Rey semi-final that has the potential to be the next thrilling game involving Barcelona.

The hosts were 2-0 down after 32 minutes after a counter-attack goal from Kevin Gameiro and Dani Parejo's spot-kick.

The validity of Parejo's challenge on Messi on the edge of the Valencia penalty area was debatable but the speed in which the ball was transferred from back to front was nearly instantaneous.

Nothing can silence the Camp Nou crowd like the thought of an injury to Lionel Messi - especially four days before a clash against Real Madrid.

"[Messi] has a small problem", Valverde said.

The World Cup victor will train with the group after the weekend, when the medical staff will re-evaluate his physical condition.

The coach also played Sergi Roberto at left-back instead of Jordi Alba, who is having a sublime season, and Thomas Vermaelen next to Gerard Pique, resting Clement Lenglet.

With his second strike, Messi took his goal tally in La Liga to 21 in 20 matches.

The match was end-to-end in the first 10 minutes and Valencia had another opportunity when Daniel Wass provided a smart pass for Parejo inside the Barcelona box, but the Spaniard's effort was too high.

He has now scored in 8 consecutive La Liga matches for the third time.

Although Messi returned to the pitch minutes later, he looked to be in some discomfort, but Valverde is not fearing the worst, suggesting that the player could still be available for Wednesday's crucial first-leg semi-final tie against rivals Los Blancos.

Little did it matter that the team's all-time leading scorer had just struck two goals to lead Barcelona back from a two-goal deficit to secure a 2-2 draw.

MESSI added a second one in the second half, a goal which only he can make look easy.

Real Sociedad won the Basque derby 2-1 at home to Athletic Bilbao to move to eighth in the table.

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