Barcelona got themselves off to a flying start to the season courtesy of their 3-0 win against Alaves last time out and will look to continue their early momentum as they lock horns with newly promoted Real Valladolid in the first away fixture of the season. Let’s see what Ernesto Valverde’s men need to do to win this fixture...
The head-to-head record speaks volumes about where to put your money on this one. Valladolid have won just 1 of their last 13 games against Barcelona, a 1-0 win at Estadio Jose Zorilla which also happens to be the last time the two sides met.
Apart from that, they have been pretty unsuccessful in defeating with the Blaugranes. They are without their star man, 29-year-old Jaime Mata who left for Getafe after scoring more than 30 goals last season and helping the team gain promotion to La Liga.
Apart from that, they have a pretty good squad, one that can put up a fight, and one that includes the familiar face of former Barcelona man Jordi Masip. But has their defence done well? Pretty much yes, but it can’t deny the fact that the club went up the ladder conceding 55 goals.
This is not a high-octane fixture but neither was the game against Levante and we all remember what happened there. Sergio Roberto should replace Nelson Semedo at right-back and Ousmane Dembele needs to start too. Ernesto Valverde may decide to rest Ivan Rakitic and start with Arturo Vidal. This looks a good game for young Juan Miranda to be given a chance, but that’s highly unlikely. The rest of the team should look pretty much similar to the one which faced Alaves.
Real Valladolid leak goals and Luis Suarez needs goals, which should make for an interesting match-up. They are good at defending set pieces, but this quality is more of a challenge to accept than a precaution to exercise.
If Vidal starts, his ever-pressing nature can force Valladolid into mistakes. Toni Villa and Nacho had a great game last time around which supplements the fact that maybe left is their lucky side (good luck, Roberto).
Real Valladolid picked up plenty of bookings last season, averaging more than two a match, but they can’t afford to give away fouls in critical areas given Lionel Messi’s free-kick form.
Barcelona can expect a team which likes to operate with greater width, so intercepting stray passes can become crucial as Valladolid are weak in keeping possession.
Fun fact: Real Valladolid have lost more fixtures against Barcelona than they have against any other team, a staggering 54 times. And what was their biggest losing scoreline at home? 0-6, against Barcelona.