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La Liga: Real Valladolid 1-0 FC Barcelona: Match Review

A recap of Barcelona's disappointing loss to Real Valladolid.

Denis Doyle

After a midweek run of international fixtures, Barça were hoping avoid the dreaded "FIFA virus". Unfortunately this didn't happen as Barcelona looked sluggish and stumbled to a 1-0 defeat thanks to a goal from Fausto Rossi.






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Barcelona opened the early stages with a good possession of the ball, knocking it about the park as they got used to the feel of the match. But the way they were set up, it suggested Tata Martino was aiming for a counter attacking approach, an approach that really doesn't play to Barcelona's strength. Neymar, Pedro & Messi all have the pace to play this way but the midfield doesn't, so they became isolated.

Neymar frequently attempted to cut inside, in the space that was left behind by Messi. While the Argentine attempted to burst his way past the defence from deep. But both found their paths difficult and they could only produce weak efforts. Pedro rarely saw the ball but when he did it didn't come to anything.

Valladolid also pressed well, trapping the Barça midfield in their own half and not allowing them to play their passing game. This also allowed Valladolid to recover the ball higher up the field and attack the Barça defence. After a couple of tame chances for both teams, the Barcelona defence went to sleep in the 17th minute. The ball ricocheted around the area before landing perfectly at the feet of Fausto Rossi. With no Barça defender between him and the goal, Rossi had no trouble firing the ball past a hapless Victor Valdés.

1-0 to Valladolid and the game seemed to playing out the way Juan Ignacio Martínez was hoping for. The continued counter attacking tactic continued to not work for Barcelona. The forwards rarely got a touch and Leo Messi had to drop deeper and deeper for the ball. When he did receive the ball, he was abruptly stopped as Martino's tactics appeared to be way off.

Eventually, Barcelona did revert to type and returned to their favoured possession based game. This did start to produce results as Barcelona carved out more attacking chances. A free kick on the edge of the area allowed Messi to strike at goal but it was easily saved. Then it was Messi again, breaking through the centre, ignoring the option of Neymar and blasting the ball at Mariño. A minute later it was Fàbregas who fired at goal, but it produce the same result as Messi's. Another minute later and the ball was in the net but Pedro was ruled offside.

Half time came and the most disappointing part for Barcelona was that Valladolid looked comfortable. They looked organised and the five man defence was doing it's job in exhausting Barça's attacking options. After the players returned, they showed no real upping of their game. They continued to retain the ball, but they never really looked like they were troubling Valladolid.

Messi did produce a good run though the centre of the field, but this run was matched by the defender and Messi had no choice but to power the ball into shins of Mariño. The resultant corner came to nothing as Valladolid forced Barça away from their goal.

Six minutes later, Dani Alves, who had been marked out of the whole game, popped up in the area. A Xavi pass struck the arm of a defender as it landed at Messi's feet. The referee waved play on and Messi found Alves who was open in the box. The Brazilian fired the ball across goal but no one was there to attack it as Valladolid cleared with ease.

Speaking of Brazilians, this really wasn't a good game for Neymar. Last week he made smart runs but was very wasteful when it came to converting the chances. Today, he just couldn't get into the game. Everything he tried was covered by Peña and the winger was eventually brought off in the 74th minute.
For me one of the most puzzling decisions that Tata made was in the 61st minute when he substituted Fàbregas for Alexis Sánchez. It wasn't particularly surprising to see Fàbregas go off as he hadn't had a brilliant game but it was surprising to see another wringer brought on. This meant Xavi was left in midfield with Messi dropping deep. Messi can play as a midfielder but he is strongest in the front three and doesn't offer the same control as Xavi, Iniesta or Cesc. This meant the workload on Xavi became greater and he struggled to link between the defence and attack.

Martino possibly tried to solve this as he introduced Sergi Roberto 72nd minute to add more control. But Roberto is still very young and wasn't very effective at retaining the ball in the centre of the pitch. He also brought Roberto on in the place of Piqué, leaving just Mashcerano in defence and Busquets dropping deep. This seemed to upset the team balance as Barcelona really struggled to switch the ball from defence to attack with the speed that they are used to.

The match continued to be played in the same style, Barcelona attacking a very organised defence and being unable to find a way through. With time running down, Barcelona seemed to throw everything at it but just couldn't find a way through. Dropping more points in one of the tightest title races ever. For me Martino got his tactics wrong today and it hurt Barcelona.

Roll Call:

Roll Call Info
Total comments 415
Total commenters 35
Commenter list Amor n Paz, Anders Thomassen, Ayush Tiwari, Barcacatalunya, Bostjan Cernensek, Cavitel, Eddie Pundell, Harshiv Karia, Inder Methil, JBeck12, Lapulga, Minatar12, Ricardo Blonde, Richzorz, Sam Cooper, Shieldsteiger, Som-i-Serem, Tokjee, ViscaViscaBarca, ade fox, barca96, craig00000, damaso, feeya7, ikool, jqann, justdoit94, paola baranzika, papant7, pogis1991, rnmrqz, teamshao, tgmgg, thriller08, xiper
# Commenter # Comments
1 Cavitel 52
2 Lapulga 42
3 feeya7 35
4 thriller08 34
5 Richzorz 28
6 JBeck12 28
7 Tokjee 27
8 Inder Methil 22
9 teamshao 18
10 barca96 16

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