Bishal Dhakal for La Revista
After the hard-fought narrow 1-0 victory against Espanyol at Camp Nou, Barcelona sent their city rivals to Segunda Division. Los Blancos are comfortably leading the League with four points with last night win against relegation battling side Alaves. Even in the absence of crucial figures like Ramos, Carvajal and Marcelo, goals from Benzema and Asensio secured three points for real Madrid. On the other hand, Barcelona playing to catch-up league leader Madrid. With three games left to be played, there is no margin of error for Blaugrana even though the fate of title lies in the hand of Real Madrid. Early this evening Barcelona are set to visit Real Valladolid at their home ground The Estadio Municipal Jose Zorrilla. Valladolid are currently at the 14th position in the league table with 39 points. They are coming to this game with 2-1 loss against Valencia at Mestalla.
Barcelona are set to miss youngster Ansu Fati after early send-off at second half against Espanyol but left-back junior Firpo has received a medical green light. Frenkie de jong is not completely match fit to play against Sergio’s side, and recovery date of Dembele and Umtiti is not clear yet.
Valladolid has long injury list ahead of game night. Pedro Porro, Miguel de, Jose Caro, Matheus Fernandes and Michael java are out of the game. On the other hand, Oscal Plano is back from the suspension.
Valladolid will be tough opponents for Setien’s side as they struggle against the teams that defend deep in numbers. Valladolid are a team that defend in numbers giving little space and time on the ball to the opponents. They have conceded more than one in just one of their last eight games with the record of 2W-4D-2L. With the same recurring problems in penetrating the deep blocks and defending the ample space left behind by fullbacks and CB in transition, this match might go sideways for Setien. With the return of Oscar Plano, they might go back to five-man midfield. It seems like Setien is in search of a formula to get best out of Griezmann, Messi and Suarez. Lately, Setien has found 4-3-1-2 to give a much more favourable position to Griezzman, Messi at the tip of the diamond and Suarez-Griezmann as striking duo. Sometimes Frenchman drops in between the lines in place of Messi to take some creative responsibility out of Leo’s shoulder. As fullbacks provide necessary width for Barcelona, they struggle to defend the counter in transition with slow and ageing centre backs and midfielders responsible for covering. It is important for Barcelona to score early in this game to unsettle the deep block defence of Valladolid.
Head to Head
In last 7 matches between these two sides, Barcelona managed 6 wins scoring 16 goals against and conceding only four goals. Barcelona have not lost a single game since 2014 that was one and only win for Valladolid in a decade. Barcelona have won all three meetings since Valladolid returned to LaLiga in 2018.
Valladolild expected lineup: Masip– Garcia, Salisu, Fernandez, Moyano – Emeterio, Alcaraz – Villa, Plano, Hervias– Guardiola.
With the return of Plano, Real Valladolid may lineup their usual 4-2-3-1 formation with 5 men in midfield. Sergi Guardiola is the joint top scorer along with CF Enes Unal for Valladolid. Twenty-one years old Ghanaian international Mohammed Salisu has been a top performer for Valladolid in defence.
Barcelona Expected Lineup: Ter Stegen- Alba, Lenglet, Pique, Roberto- Puig, Busquets, Vidal – Messi- Griezmann, Suarez (4-3-1-2)
After the convincing performance by Roberto against Espanyol as LCM at the first half, he was shifted at RB followed by a worrying performance of Semedo. Riqui Puig might get the deserve chance to start this game. He has been the brightest spot under the darkness for Barcelona. He was excluded from starting XI after the deserving performance against Athletico Madrid. Vidal can be a useful weapon against Sergio’s side to penetrate the defence with his runs and directness to the match.
What to expect?
With the high-quality individuals and medicine man Lionel Messi this match shouldn’t be nut cracking problem for Barcelona. Even though the struggle of Catalan Giants against deep block is no hidden truth, they are expected to come out of the match with a win. This win can reduce the gap to one point against potential title winner real Madrid with three games in hand for Los Blancos.