Barcelona dropped more points in the Spanish title race with a 1-1 draw at Valencia on Saturday.
Xavi Hernandez’s team climbed up to third place, one point ahead of Atletico Madrid, but trail Real Madrid by four points and surprise leaders Girona by six, despite having played one game more than all three.
Atletico Madrid lost 2-0 to Athletic Bilbao earlier Saturday, but the Catalans were unable to capitalize on an intriguing match on the east coast.
After a great team play, Joao Felix put Barcelona ahead in the second half, but Hugo Guillamon’s superb goal equalized.
Barcelona has won just one of their past four league games, including a thrashing at home last weekend by a rampaging Girona.
They were further shook by a midweek Champions League defeat to Belgian minnows Royal Antwerp, which raised further doubts about Xavi’s management despite the fact that the Catalans were already through to the final 16.
In the days that followed, club figures, including president Joan Laporta, expressed their support for him ahead of what Spanish media dubbed a “final” at Valencia’s boisterous Mestalla stadium.
“Anything that wasn’t three points was a tough blow for us,” Barcelona midfielder Pedri told Movistar.
“We did a lot of things right, but we didn’t get the goal — I think our play was a lot better than in the Girona game, where we weren’t good.”
The Spain international stated that the team was behind Xavi.
“We’re with the coach, these aren’t good moments for any of us… we have to be united to turn it around.”
The game flowed from end to end, as it did in Barcelona’s defeat to Girona, as a result of the champions starting without a pure holding midfielder.
Inaki Pena made an early save to deny Roman Yaremchuk, and Giorgi Mamardashvili of Valencia saved an acrobatic Robert Lewandowski shot.
Pedri blasted wide, while Lewandowski’s chipped attempt was saved by Valencia’s goalie.
The visitors seized the lead 10 minutes into the second half, thanks to a brilliant move finished by Felix from close range.
Frenkie de Jong’s lovely pass found Raphinha, who laid the ball on a plate for the Portuguese forward to tap in.
Only a few minutes before Valencia scored, Mamardashvili produced a spectacular stop from a Raphinha missile.
Ronald Araujo, probably still concerned about a recent face fracture, let a ball bounce instead of clearing his lines, and Guillamon took advantage.
The midfielder scored from the edge of the box to bring Ruben Baraja’s team level.
When De Jong found him with another exquisite lobbed ball, substitute Ferran Torres had a golden opportunity to put Barcelona back in ahead, but his volley lacked conviction.
As Barcelona sought for a winner in the waning stages, Mamardashvili denied Raphinha brilliantly and Araujo drove wide.
Valencia is now tenth after the draw, with Baraja’s team looking far more stable than they did last season when they battled relegation.
“We made a huge effort, and we got a valiant draw, we suffered out there,” Guillamon said after scoring in his first La Liga appearance of the season.
“The coach is giving other players runs in the team, but I always work to be available when I am needed.”
Girona hosts Alaves on Monday, while Real Madrid hosts Villarreal on Sunday.