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In a raucous and full-to-capacity Estadio José Zorilla, Barça’s pre-match concerns at the state of the pitch appeared justified in the opening exchanges, the ball not running true and the turf cutting up badly. With both teams on the front foot, Ousmane Dembélé had the first chance of note, firing just over from an acute angle.
Marc-André ter Stegen was called into action shortly after but a fine save kept the scores level. An open, attacking game almost sprang to life just after the quarter hour when Lionel Messi played in Jordi Alba, however, Valladolid keeper, Jordi Masip, was out quickly to deny the left-back.
Despite the pitch continuing to cause problems, both sides carved out a handful of presentable chances before the half-time whistle. Incessant pressure late in the first half from the Blaugrana almost brought a reward, with Philippe Coutinho coming closest to opening the scoring.
A similar pattern opened the second half as Barça sought to take the initiative and force the hosts out of their comfort zone. Within 12 minutes a lofted ball found Sergi Roberto at the far post, and his controlled back header landed at the feet of Dembélé who made no mistake with a low drive (1-0).
The game continued to ebb and flow, and with 15 minutes left to play Dembélé made way for Arturo Vidal, Ernesto Valverde appearing to have decided that some extra security in midfield was needed as the match moved into its final stages.
Luis Suárez almost made the game safe on 83 after a superb through ball from Messi, but the goal was ruled out for offside. Shortly after, Malcom took the place of countryman Coutinho and went close just before the end of normal time. With 30 seconds to go, Keko’s bullet header look like it had earned the home side a point, but after a short delay and to the relief of the Blaugrana, VAR adjudged him to have been offside.
Barça are next in action on Sunday, September 2, at the Camp Nou against La Liga new boys Huesca. Kick-off is at 6.30pm CEST.
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