Real Valladolid (18th, 14pts) vs FC Barcelona (5th, 21pts)*
*Points and positions at the time of writing on Monday
Competition/Round: 2020-21 La Liga, Matchday 15
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Ansu Fati, Gerard Piqué, Sergi Roberto, Ousmane Dembélé, Matheus Fernandes, Konrad De La Fuente (out)
Valladolid Outs & Doubts: Kiko Olivas, Saidy Janko (out), Joaquin Fernández (doubt)
Date/Time: Tuesday, December 22, 2020, 10pm CET/WAT (Barcelona & Nigeria), 9pm GMT (UK), 4pm ET, 1pm PT (USA), 2.30am IST (India, Wednesday)
Venue: Estadio José Zorilla, Valladolid, Spain
Referee: Mario Melero López
VAR: José Luis Munuera Montero
How to watch on TV: beIN SPORTS (USA & Canada), LaLigaTV (UK), SuperSport (Nigeria), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), Not Available (India), others
Following a disappointing draw at home against Valencia at the weekend, Barcelona return to action in La Liga for the final match before a one-week Christmas break, against Real Valladolid on the road.
Barça are now unbeaten in their last three matches but failed to win three games in a row fo the first time this season thanks to a very poor performance against Valencia, but if they can make it four without a loss with three wins in four, things will all of a sudden look better. But this team has to stop getting in its own way.
Barça’s ability to complicate things for themselves is almost impressive, and Ronald Koeman seems allergic to good decisions in important moments. Lineup choices and substitutions almost always contradict what the game needs at any particular moment, and Koeman continues to give zero confidence that his work as a coach will yield any positive results this season.
At this rate qualification for the Champions League in fourth place will be considered a successful season for a manager used to mediocrity, and maybe we shouldn’t expect this version of Barça to go too far because the coach is just not good enough. Maybe fourth place with four-game winning streaks and two or three good games every two months is the normal for this team, and we have to roll with the punches.
Is it depressing? Yes. Is it the reality? Yes, but to expect anything from this team is almost as sad as accepting mediocrity. So let’s just roll with the punches and celebrate a victory against a relegation candidate if it happens, shall we?
Barcelona (4-2-3-1): Ter Stegen; Dest, Araujo, Lenglet, Alba; Pjanic, De Jong; Griezmann, Pedri, Coutinho; Messi
Valladolid (4-4-2): Masip; Hervias, González, Yamiq, Carnero; Orellana, Alcaraz, Mesa, Plano; Weissman, De Sousa
Not sure why, but I trust the team to put on a good showing going into the Christmas break and avoid a week of negativity: 3-0 Barça.