Barcelona are back in second place and are now just one point behind La Liga leaders Atlético Madrid thanks to a hard-fought 1-0 win over Real Valladolid at Camp Nou, Barça’s 13th in the last 14 games. The Blaugrana looked rusty after the international break and struggled against a solid Valladolid defense, but Ousmane Dembélé scored a 90th minute winner to give Barça three gigantic points in the title race.
Barça looked very much like a team coming off an international break in the first half, playing with no intensity and just passing the ball from side to side with no movement in the final third. Valladolid set up well with a five-man defense but were not really challenged, and the visitors managed to create a really good chance when Kenan Kodro headed the ball against the crossbar.
It took 45 minutes for Barça to finally create something, and it was a long shot by Pedri that Jordi Masip deflected onto the post. The Blaugrana were lazy and uninspired, and at halftime they needed a serious wake-up call to play better and win the game.
Barça increased the intensity and brought on more pressure in the second half, firing plenty of shots at goal and working hard to recover the ball whenever they lost it. Valladolid couldn’t counter anymore, and Barça had more to offer even if they couldn’t truly threaten Masip.
With 10 minutes to go, Óscar Plano was given a straight red card for a tackle on Ousmane Dembélé, and the Blaugrana had a chance to play against 10 men to find the winner. Despite having all their attacking players on the pitch the home team simply couldn’t show enough creativity to break the deadlock, and it looked as though we were headed for a disaster.
But in the 90th minute, the breakthrough: Frenkie De Jong played a great cross from the right wing, Ronald Araujo flew high into the air to deflect it with his head, and Dembélé fired a great volley with his left foot to finally beat Masip and give Barça the lead.
The final whistle came shortly after and Barça left it late with a poor performance, but this is a game they simply had to win. And they did. Barça are back in second, and El Clásico is up next. Buckle up.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Mingueza (Araujo 63’), De Jong, Lenglet; Dest (Puig 87’), Busquets (Braithwaite 63’), Pedri (Moriba 76’), Alba; Messi, Dembélé, Griezmann (Trincão 63’)
Goal: Dembélé (90’)
Valladolid: Masip; González, Sánchez, Olaza; Janko (Hervías 65’), Mesa, Plano, Alcaraz, Martínez; Guardiola (André 77’), Kodro (Waldo 85’)
Red Card: Plano (79’)