Real Valladolid pitch not fit for purpose
The biggest talking point from Saturday’s game is obviously the state of the Real Valladolid pitch which was simply not fit to host a La Liga game.
Sergio Busquets called it a “beach,” Gerard Pique went for “disgrace” and even Javier Tebas promised action against the club.
Even Real Valladolid president Carlos Suarez accepted the club probably deserve a sanction “if we get punished for the pitch, that seems fair.”
Pique correctly pointed out after the match that instead of La Liga trying to play matches in the United States, they should make sure everything is working at home first.
Real Valladolid have work to do, but they have time until their next home fixture. They are away to Getafe next and do not play again at the Estadio José Zorrilla until after the international break on September 16.
Controversy avoided as VAR rescues Barcelona
Barcelona picked up all three points but it was an incredibly nervy end to the game as Real Valladolid scored in stoppage time through Keko.
His dramatic goal sparked wild celebrations from the home team who thought they had salvaged a point against the champions.
However, it was correctly chalked off by the video assistant referee for offside, and Barcelona went on to claim all three points.
The use of VAR in La Liga is a welcome sight after some seriously poor decisions and ghost goals over the last few seasons, and it was good to see the match officials getting the help they need.
Decisive Dembele is making a difference
Ousmane Dembele was the match-winner for Barcelona exactly a year to the day since he signed for the club from Borussia Dortmund.
It was by no means a perfect display by the Frenchman. He was guilty of losing possession frequently, perhaps not too much of a surprise on the dreadful pitch, even Lionel Messi was at it.
1 - Lionel Messi have only made one touch in the opposite box & have lost most possession (14) after Oumane Dembele (16) at the halt time vs Real Valladolid. Watched pic.twitter.com/wlK30UPmxq— OptaJose (@OptaJose) August 25, 2018
He played out on the left but was switched to the right after half-time and grabbed the only goal of the game with a decent finish after great work from Sergi Roberto.
After a tough first season at the Camp Nou, Dembele is really starting to show he can be a difference-maker.
His goal follows on from a superb strike in the Spanish Super Cup, and on a tough night where even Messi struggled, Dembele came up with the goods.
How much was the pitch to blame for Barca’s display?
Barcelona may have taken all three points at Real Valladolid, but it’s not a performance that will be looked back on with any fondness.
The pitch obviously didn’t help, but Barca were poor, Luis Suarez’s form remains a concern and Ernesto Valverde will come under fire for his defensive tactics once again.
Real Valladolid deserve credit for a battling performance on their return to La Liga, and Barcelona will just be glad to be out of there with all three points.
Ugly wins are required when it comes to winning titles, but is the pitch the only reason Barca toiled to beat a side who finished fifth in the Segunda Division last season?