Barcelona are level on points with Atletico Madrid and one point ahead of Real Madrid with five games to go after their latest collapse against Valencia, the first time they have lost three in a row since February 2003.
Barcelona can still win La Liga if they win all of their remaining games but they are running on empty. As as usual there are subplots to the end of season collapse at the Camp Now
As coach Luis Enrique watched them try to comeback from an Ivan Rakitic own-goal and a Santi Mina strike he sent none of his substitutes to warm-up, a clear message to his board perhaps that they should have signed players in January.
This was a much better Barca performance than the midweek defeat at Atletico. On a normal day they might have scored four or five goals and one when Pique desperately dragged a last minute shot wide he and several of his Barcelona team-mates dropped to the ground in disbelief – they had missed so many second half chances to win the game.
Valencia took the lead on 26 minutes and the goal was the perfect illustration of how Barcelona have stepped off the gas pedal at the worst possible time of the season.
Andre Gomes had time and space to pick out attacking left-back Guilherme Siqueira, Sergio Roberto gave him the time and space to cross and when Rakitic deflected the centre it beat Claudio Bravo at his near post to put Valencia ahead.
The next goal also came down the Barcelona right. Again there was space in front of the home team’s back four. Dani Parejo made the most of it sliding Santi Mina through and he shot past Claudio Bravo for 2-0. So much for dropping Dani Alves to tighten things up defensively.
There was a moment of happiness for Barca s as Lionel Messi ended his goal drought when he scored his 500th goal for Barca and Argentina. Alba collected a ball down on the left and found Messi who artfully slid his shot in past a blocked Alves to make it a 2-1 affair.
The goal gave Barcelona life and there was drama aplenty in the final 10 minutes with Barcelona throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the Valencia defence. Neymar had a good look at the equalizer, but Shkodran Mustafi blocked the shot with his body.
Valencia then should have put the match to bed on a counter but somehow Paco Alcácer managed to fluff a shot from four yards out.
But the chance that will be remembered by onlookers was the one that fell to Gerard Piqué, as the defender was left unmarked and had a clean look at goal at the far post but fired wide.
That would prove to be the final opportunity as the Barcelona slump has now reached crisis mode.