Barcelona are already on the beach
Barcelona took on Real Valladolid having won 15 of their last 16 matches against the Pucelanos in La Liga but were promptly beaten 3-1 by the relegation-threatened team.
That’s now two defeats in a row for Xavi’s side after being crowned champions, and it seems very much as though the team are already on the beach.
2 - Barcelona have lost consecutive LaLiga games for the first time under Xavi Hernández. In addition, the blaugranas have conceded 7 goals in their last 3 league games, as many as in their previous 24 games in the competition. Intensity. pic.twitter.com/3fFOCltHWn— OptaJose (@OptaJose) May 23, 2023
Injuries to Pedri and Ronald Araujo haven’t helped, of course, but Barca’s sloppiness and lack of intensity was shown up against a team fighting for their lives at the bottom of the team.
Andreas Christensen’s early own goal made it a nightmare start for Barca, before goals from Cyle Larin and Gonzalo Plata finished the visitors off.
Xavi admitted it was a fair result after the game and that it’s understandable given the league title is already in the bag.
Even so, he’ll expect a response at the weekend when Barca play their last La Liga game at the Camp Nou until 2024.
Xavi protects Ter Stegen
Marc-Andre ter Stegen has enjoyed a stellar campaign and is hoping to win the Zamora Trophy for the first time and beat La Liga’s record for fewest goals conceded and most clean sheets along the way.
Those records looked in jeopardy early on after Ter Stegen was beaten twice by Real Valladolid, prompting Xavi to take his Germany international off at half-time to protect his record.
2 - Barcelona have conceded two goals in the first 22 minutes of a LaLiga game for the first time since December 2013 against Getafe (10 and 14). Relaxation. pic.twitter.com/NuKNrq4LcQ— OptaJose (@OptaJose) May 23, 2023
Ter Stegen has now conceded 17 goals in La Liga, the record is 18, and Barca still have to face Real Mallorca and Celta Vigo.
There’s also a clean sheet record to think about. Ter Stegen has 25, meaning he’s just one short of matching the record and two away from owning it outright.
To see just how good Ter Stegen has been this season, you only have to look at this quite ridiculous stat.
3 - Top scorers against Barcelona in LaLiga 2022/23:— OptaJose (@OptaJose) May 23, 2023
3 - Own goals (Koundé, Araujo and Christensen).
2 - Joselu Mato
1 - 11 different players
Barcelona’s goalkeeper should still win the Zamora Trophy, and his substitution means the goals against Valladolid won’t count in that reckoning as he played less than 60 minutes, but has work to do to write his name into La Liga’s history books.
Inaki Pena makes La Liga debut
Ter Stegen’s situation was at least good news for back-up stopper Inaki Pena who was able to have first-team minutes and finally make his La Liga debut for Barcelona.
The goalkeeper arrived at half-time, with Xavi explaining afterwards: “We changed Marc to protect his Zamora award and because Iñaki deserves it.”
Congratulations, Iñaki, for your La Liga debut! pic.twitter.com/5bky2uBe1I— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) May 23, 2023
Pena has had to be patient all season, making just three appearances before the trip to Real Valladolid, but has still committed his future to the club and penned a new deal that runs until 2026.
The goalkeeper had probably been hoping for more starts, now Barca haved wrapped up the title, but Ter Stegen’s bid for history means he may be back on the bench on Sunday when Mallorca visit the Camp Nou.
Raphinha’s message to Vini
Raphinha sent out a strong message of support to Vinicius Junior on Tuesday night. The Brazilian took off his shirt as he was substituted late on to reveal a message of solidarity with his compatriot.
“While the colour of skin is more important than the colour of eyes, there will be war....We are together, Vini,” he wrote on his undershirt.
Raphinha supports Brazil teammate Vinicius Jr. by quoting Bob Marley/Haile Selassie: "Until the colour of a man's skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes, me say war."— Tom Sanderson (@TomSandersonBCN) May 23, 2023
Back reads: "TMJ Vini", meaning "tamo junto/estamos juntos" - "We're in it together". pic.twitter.com/q4SwzCgUSe
Raphinha also spoke out after the game about racism in football and called for change following a dismal few days in La Liga.
“Nothing ever changes and some important people need to take action in the matter,” he told reporters. “It happens in every game and we have to change things and those in charge have to change.” Words that Vinicius also has tattooed on his body.
Pablo Torre finally starts
Xavi finally decided to give Pablo Torre a go against Real Valladolid, handing the summer signing his first start for Barcelona in La Liga. The 20-year-old has had a difficult first season at the club but enjoyed himself here and should see more minutes in Barca’s last two games.
Torre’s lack of game time this season has been fairly curious, particularly when Pedri was out injured and Barca were clearly lacking creativity and a player who could link with the forwards effectively.
️ PABLO TORRE: "I'm happy for having been in the starting XI." pic.twitter.com/1twNaoKBIk— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) May 24, 2023
The midfielder was happy to start the game, even if he didn’t last 90 minutes, and received some faint praise from Xavi after the match.
“Pablo Torre had a good game. He tried and connected well between the lines. He’s the best player we have from set pieces,” he told reporters after the defeat.
Barcelona’s last couple of games could be crucial to Torre. Talk of a loan move has refused to go away all season, and the midfielder clearly still has work to do to convince Xavi he should play more regularly.