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Keys to the Game: Barcelona vs Real Valladolid

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With no margin for error the hosts look to lock in for the home stretch

Real Sociedad v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

A confident Barcelona look to pick up where they left off on Monday with Real Valladolid visiting the Nou Camp.

It was a fruitful international break for many of the Barca players, with Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele, and Pedri, in particular, putting in strong performances.

May the good form continue. All hands on deck will be needed going forward.

The La Liga trophy is in sight and it’s a three-way competition in one of the most competitive races in recent history.

Fans will be looking ahead to potentially decisive matches against Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid in the near future.

Ronald Koeman and his men, however, will be taking things a game at a time, knowing they’ll need to be perfect from here on out.

Vanquishing Valladolid is the first step in the process.

A statement game to build momentum

Real Sociedad v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Beating Real Sociedad 6-1 was an announcement to the world that the dominant Barcelona of old has returned.

Unfortunately the international break stopped the momentum before it could build.

Barca would do well to recreate that showing against Valladolid, because most likely the team that wins La Liga will be the one that goes on a big winning streak.

Just getting by won’t cut it.

Real Madrid won the title last year after dominating the league after the restart from the pandemic postponement.

Barcelona need to be equally locked in, and assume that their rivals will be on the same level.

Atletico Madrid already has seeds of doubt beginning to sprout.

By the time Barca takes them on, they’ll need to be on the front foot. That’s why this game against Valladolid is so important. Build the right habits now.

Playing aggressively and winning decisively would signal their hunger for a championship.

Many critics have criticized the character of the Barca players. This may be the last chance many of them get for redemption. Especially the veterans like Pique, Busquets, Alba, and Messi.

How badly do they want it? Will they fight day in and day out?

We’re about to find out.

The French connection steps up

Real Sociedad v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele had outstanding games for France during the break, scoring golazos that highlighted their status as stars of the game.

With Barca they have had positive seasons with their potential shining through.

There’s little doubt that Ronald Koeman’s preferred lineup going forward will include both of them.

This is their chance to cement their legacy in the Barcelona history books.

If they play their best for the club now, and help win a league title, they could be the protagonists in the fairy tale.

You love to see the defensive contributions recently. The Frenchmen have pressed hard and tracked back, proving their commitment to winning.

Combine that with a serving of goals on a regular basis and Barcelona have a formidable attacking trident on their hands.

It goes without saying that the defense will have to be reliable and mistake-free. The title, however, will be won and lost by the guys who are paid the big bucks up front.

If the Messi, Dembele, and Griezmann chemistry heats up, watch out.

Beware of a wounded animal

Athletic Club v Real Valladolid CF - La Liga Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Valladolid is unassuming, but solid and capable of getting a result.

They find themselves a game clear of the relegation zone, clinging to life, and a whole lot to play for.

Every point counts for them.

They would love a draw against Barcelona. On the flip side, a draw for Barcelona would be disastrous.

This is a dangerous bottom-of-the-table team that cannot be underestimated.

They need to be prepared for like it’s a Clasico. Every game should feel that way.

Valladolid don’t score a lot of goals with only 26 on the season.

Veteran midfielder Oscar Plano (3 goals and 4 assists), and forward Fabian Orellana (4 goals and 2 assists) have been their most productive players on the year.

Not a whole lot to worry about individually, and last time Barcelona won easily in a 3-0 route.

Another professional performance like that is just what’s needed.