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FC Barcelona have lost for the second time in four days. After 2-1 defeat to Real Sociedad, they have now crashed to a 3-1 loss in Valladolid. Much like in the game at the weekend, this Tuesday there were certainly signs of a drop in the intensity now that the Liga title has been sewn up.
And again the situation was exasperated by the fact that in contrast to Barça, the three points were of paramount importance to the opposition. Los pucelanos are one of the small group of teams staring relegation in the face, and this victory has done wonders for their hopes of survival.
And also like the Real Sociedad game, Barça might have lost, but that didn’t stop Robert Lewandowski from adding to a goal tally that is looking more and more likely to bag him the Pichichi crown as the tournament’s top scorer.
The game also saw Pablo Torre get his first league start for Barça, and also a first ever Liga appearance for Iñaki Peña, who replaced Ter Stegen in goal for the second 45 minutes. After the game, coach Xavi agreed that his decision was partly motivated by the goal to protect the German's Zamora bid, but also to give the reserve keeper some much-deserved playing time.
Two early setbacks
The game could not have got off to a more disappointing start. The home fans had barely finished singing the club anthem before they were witnessing the quickest goal that Barça have conceded all season.
Darwin Machís whipped in the cross, and rather than clear the early danger, Andreas Christensen accidentally ended up sending a diving header into his own net.
The hopes of another clean sheet already dashed, Valladolid added to the visitors’ woe with a second goal after 22 minutes. The contact looked minimal, but Eric Garcia was adjudged to have brought down Gonzalo Plata, and Canadian striker Cyle Larin converted the ensuing penalty.
Barça had conceded a second goal for only the fourth time all league season. The response to the setback was a good one, and both Raphinha and Christensen would have scored had it not been for a couple of outstanding saves from former Barça stopper Jordi Masip.
Barça substitute keeper Peña held on for almost half an hour, when he was beaten by the same Plata who had hit the post not long before. Although the offside flag was up for that one, the VAR officials deemed Valladolid’s third goal good.
Lewy gets his goal
The Estadio José Zorrilla was loving it. Winless in their last five games, they were 3-0 up against a team that had beaten them in their last seven meetings, scoring 16 goals and conceding just one.
And it was almost four when substitute Lucas Rosa chipped a great chance onto the post.
Barça finally got off the mark with just six minutes to go. A superlative through ball from Frenkie de Jong (captaining the side for the first time today), and Lewandowski skipped into position before slotting home past Masip.
It was small consolation for Barça. The bigger (much bigger) consolation is that of course it ultimately it makes little difference at all. The Liga trophy is already safely tucked away at Spotify Camp Nou.
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