Barcelona's Jekyll and Hyde season continued Sunday with a clinical 4-1 victory over free-falling Valencia at the Mestalla. The visitors took six shots, landed them all on target and put four past Giorgi Mamardashvili, including a brace for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, a classy team move that ended on the foot of Frenkie de Jong and a howitzer from young Pedri.
Valencia's lone response was from Carlos Soler, making it seven LaLiga matches without a win for los Che — a run that's included five defeats and left them in 12th. It was only back in December that Valencia was above Barça in the table, but it's now nine unbeaten in LaLiga for the Blaugrana, and they currently move above Atlético and into fourth-place on goal difference.
Barça's opener in the 23rd minute was exactly what fans dreamed of when Aubameyang arrived from Arsenal. The 32-year-old's run across Valencia's backline was spotted by Jordi Alba, and the Gabon international finished with power and precision.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scores his first goal for Barcelona! pic.twitter.com/BBun4C6NjP
Less than 10 minutes later, Alba again provided another sublime ball to pick out Ousmane Dembélé's run. The winger squared for De Jong to tap in.
Frenkie de Jong with a vintage Barcelona goal ✨ pic.twitter.com/TR3IFIFHAi
The Dembélé saga is getting really weird now. The Frenchman has been declared Public Enemy No. 1 in Barcelona after refusing to leave during the January window, and he entered last Sunday's draw with Espanyol at the Camp Nou to widespread jeers but was hugely influential during his 18 minutes on the pitch.
That was enough to earn the start today, and he was again effective both off the dribble and with his passing over 71 minutes.
In the 38th minute, Dembélé unlocked Valencia's defense by finding Gavi and the 17-year-old played it across goal for Aubameyang's second.
Auba gets his second goal for Barca pic.twitter.com/QX7xP03dv7
Soler's header pulled one back for Valencia in the 52nd minute, and the home side was threatening for a second before Pedri rifled a first-time shot into the roof of the net in the 63rd.
PEDRI WHAT A HIT pic.twitter.com/oYQp6H10gt
After the wastefulness of Thursday's 1-1 Europa League draw with Napoli (21 shots but only a penalty kick goal to show for it), this is exactly what Barcelona needed. The club returns to action Thursday with the second leg of its knockout round playoff with Napoli.