La Liga: Real Valladolid 1 - 3 FC Barcelona: Match Review

The three goalscorers - David Ramos

Recap of Barça's victory against Real Valladolid. FC Barcelona got the win for Tito Vilanova they were hoping for with goals from Xavi, Lionel Messi and Cristian Tello.

With Tito Vilanova missing the game because of surgery FC Barcelona felt the pressure to deliver a victory for the coach. And the players responded in positive fashion and won the club's last game of the year 2012. Goals from Xavi, Lionel Messi and Cristian Tello were enough to see off the always tricky Real Valladolid, who got a goal from Javi Guerra.


Real Valladolid

FC Barcelona

Possession

34%

66%

Total Shots

5

11

Shots on Target

2

5

Pass Accuracy

71%

88%

Fouls

15

4

Offsides

1

3

Yellow Cards

4

1

Red Cards

0

0

After Jordi Roura and Tito Vilanova discussed the topic that was the starting line-up over the phone the starting XI was pretty much as expected. The defensive line of Dani Alves, Gerard Pique, Javier Mascherano and Jordi Alba played in front of Victor Valdes who was in goal. With Andres Iniesta struggling with fitness, Thiago joined Xavi and Sergio Busquets in midfield. In the front three the out-of-form duo of Alexis Sanchez and Pedro started alongside Lionel Messi.

Both teams came on the pitch wearing AnimsTito shirts in support of Tito. Barcelona also had an message on the back of the shirt where it said: "Seny, pit i collons", or in English: "Common sense, strength and bravery"

As usual Barcelona started very strong with long bouts of possession and it took Barcelona only five minutes to create their first clear chance of the game. Messi sent a very good low cross to the wide open Alexis, who couldn't really decide with which leg he should take the shot, so he just let the ball past him.

10 minutes in Messi stepped up for a 20 yard free kick from the right side, but the shot wasn't powerful or accurate enough to cause problems to Dani Hernández.

But Real Valladolid weren't just sitting back, they also created chances. Manucho, who is a beast in the air game, had a dangerous opportunity to put the hosts in the lead, but he couldn't direct the ball on goal. Instead he wanted a penalty for handball by Alba, but correctly nothing was given.

With Valladolid's high pressure Barcelona often experienced problems passing the ball out of their half. That allowed some quick counters for the hosts but they couldn't create any real opportunities. After a high paced first ten minutes the tempo of the game really slowed down. Valladolid allowed Barcelona to control the ball in Valladolid's half, but they didn't allow any space down the middle.

Then Xavi took a free kick from a similar position as Messi did earlier in the game, but he too couldn't find the back of the net. The shot didn't miss by much, but the goalkeeper appeared to had it covered even had the shot went on goal.

In the 35th minute Thiago won a free kick in a very dangerous position, right on the edge of the box and slightly to the left side. Despite this being a better position for a right-footed shooter, Messi stepped up and fired it off Dani's right post. Valladolid also survived the ensuing goalmouth scramble to keep the game scoreless.

With Valladolid being so threatening on the counter Barcelona tried everything to stop them before they could get too close. A very good example of that was when four minutes before the halftime whistle Thiago broke up the play with a clear foul that earned him a yellow card.

Toward the end of the half Barcelona started to play like they will not be denied the lead before halftime. And Barça indeed took the lead in the 43rd minute with a classic Barcelona team goal. The entire play consisted of several passes, the last two being Pedro to Alba which gave the left-back space to cross the ball to Xavi, who finished the play of with a lovely close range finish to put Barcelona in the lead.

That would also remain the score going into halftime.

Neither team made any changes during the break. Quickly after the restart Barcelona almost doubled the lead. Alves was played in and he skipped past the goalkeeper, but was out of position to take the shot. So he waited and found the wide open Pedro near the penalty spot who sent a powerful header on goal, but he the ball hit the post and went out of play.

In the 57th minute Pique picked up a knock after colliding with a Valladolid defender, but he was able to shake it off and stay on the pitch.

In the next minute Alexis made a great play to steal the ball away from the last defender in front of the goalkeeper. The onrushing Messi controlled said ball and what appeared to be a sure goal ended up being a goal kick because Messi's shot went several yards wide. But on the very next play Messi made amends. He received the ball from Xavi outside of the area, skipped past a helpless defender and scored off the post to double the lead.

Three minutes later Rukavina almost scored an own goal, after a misunderstanding with the goalkeeper. The defender tried to head the ball to the keeper, but the keeper went off the line to collect and as a result Rukavina headed over the keeper. Dani recovered very well to get back in time to clear the ball off the line.

With the two goal lead Barcelona stepped of the gas and the next scoring chance for the Catalans didn't come until the 75th minute, but what looked like a promising sequence ended without a shot on goal.

Immediately after that missed chance Roura replaced Alexis with David Villa. About 10 minutes later Andres Iniesta was brought on to replace Thiago and bring some calmness to the game.

But the calmness only lasted for six minutes as Guerra would pull Valladolid withing a goal in the 89th minute. Valdes made a very good save on Guerra's first attempt, but with the rebound falling right back to the striker it wasn't difficult for him to make the three minutes of added time very interesting.

Just minutes before the final whistle Tello was brought on to replace Pedro. But those two minutes proved to be enough for Tello to sprint past the tired Valladolid defense and restore the two goal lead.

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