PREVIEW | Real Valladolid v FC Barcelona
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Last week was a week of celebrations of FC Barcelona's 27th league title in club history. On Saturday, the party atmosphere moved to Spotify Camp Nou, but the game itself against Real Sociedad brought the disappointment of the first home defeat in the competition and also a two-goal dent in the team's amazing defensive record.
The result can very much be explained by a lack of intensity in the Barça ranks. The three points meant a lot more to Champions League hopefuls Real Sociedad than they did to a side that has already achieved what they had set out to do. And much could be said of Tuesday's midweek league fixture (10pm CEST). Barça are just seeing out their remaining fixtures, while the home side, Real Valladolid, still have work to do.
Valladolid in trouble
After being relegated two seasons ago, Valladolid bounced back up to La Liga at the first time of asking. But they are now in serious danger of dropping straight back down again. They go into this game third from bottom in the table, tied on points with Getafe and just one ahead of Espanyol. As things stand, two of those three teams are the most likely candidates to be relegated along with Elche.
In April, Paulo Pezzolano was brought in as manager to replace Pacheta as coach. And although the Uruguayan got off to a promising start, with 7 points out of a possible 9, los pucelanos lost the next five in a row, and are now in even more serious trouble than ever.
The violet-and-whites have two familiar faces on their books. Goalkeeper Jordi Masip was at Barça from 2009 to 2017 while the Mallorcan midfielder Monchu joined the Barça youth system in 2012 and made his first team debut in a Champions League fixture against Napoli in 2019/20.
Head to head
Barça have only lost one of their last nine games away to Valladolid, the sole defeat coming in 2013/14 when Tata Martino was manager. Since Fausto Rossi scored the only goal of that match, Barça have always won when they have visited the Estadio José Zorilla.
Barça's form at home to Valladolid has been even more emphatic. That includes the reverse fixture earlier this season, when Barça romped to a 4-0 victory at Spotify Camp Nou with goals from Lewandowski (2), Pedri and Sergi Roberto.
Xavi was missing Pedri and Ronald Araujo for the game on Saturday, and those two players also miss this one, as does defender Jules Kounde, who has been ruled out with muscle fatigue. But Xavi has again not opted to bring in too many reserve and youth players, with just Marc Casadó, Pablo Torre and Arnau Tenas getting the nod for this one.
👥 𝐒𝐐𝐔𝐀𝐃 𝐋𝐈𝐒𝐓— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) May 22, 2023
⚽ #ValladolidBarça pic.twitter.com/jucFLi1GcJ
"Whatever happens, in these games it's the team who most need the points who tend to get the results. Look at Espanyol against Rayo, or us against Real Sociedad. But don't doubt that I intend to put out the best team possible to get a good result. We want to end the season on a high."
"There is collateral damage because Barça won the league so early. I'd like Ter Stegen to win the Zamora and Robert Lewandowski to be the Pichichi, and we need to help them do that."
"Because of the rivalry between Barça and Espanyol, some fans might rather we lose, but we always play to win. We have our prestige and our image to think about and it hurt to lose to Real Sociedad."
"Kounde has played practically every game and eventually the body says enough is enough. It's muscle fatigue and nothing more."
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