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2 winners and 2 losers from Barcelona’s 3-1 La Liga defeat against Real Valladolid

The best and the worst from a painful night


Barcelona suffered their second straight loss since being crowned La Liga champions thanks to a 3-1 defeat to Real Valladolid away from home. Barça had very good moments in attack but individual mistakes at the back cost them dearly on the night, and the Blaugrana are yet to pick up a point since their title-clinching victory against Espanyol two weeks ago.

Here are the winners and losers from Tuesday’s action.

Note: Applying the labels “winners” and “losers” is not intended to be a judgment on the talent or character of any of these players. It’s just a simple way to grade their performance in a single game. No disrespect is intended.


Real Valladolid CF v FC Barcelona - LaLiga Santander Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pablo Torre: The 20-year-old played the most consequential hour of football of his young career and made a serious claim to be a consistent part of the team next season, hopefully ending any silly ideas about him needing to go out on loan. Pablo Torre is a perfect fit in Xavi’s 3-2-2-3 attacking system as one of the creative 10s in behind the front three, and he has all the skills necessary to be a really good attacking player: his control and poise in tight spaces, his positioning and awareness to make runs into space and the ability to see and make passes to put teammates in good positions. It was disappointing to see him not play all 90 minutes, but he will get more run in the final two games and deserves a serious shot in preseason to show — like Alejandro Balde last preseason — he has what it takes to be a much bigger part of the team than initially expected. Really encouraging stuff.

Frenkie De Jong: Frenkie was quite simply sublime in this one, quietly running the show like the rightful heir to the Sergio Busquets throne that he is and then deciding to shine, making a ridiculous pass to Robert Lewandowski in Barça’s only goal on the night. His full command of the midfield, the quality and variety of his passing and his positioning instincts were all in full display even in a loss. One of the best midfielders on Earth, without question.


Real Valladolid CF v FC Barcelona - LaLiga Santander Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Eric García: As I’ve talked about in the past, Xavi Hernández is a very good Plan A coach. There is simply no arguing the fact that his system is very effective and when the eleven best players in Barça’s squad are on the pitch in that system, the team is unstoppable. But the lack of depth in this team makes it hard to see the same level of play from that system when players like Eric García are on the pitch instead of the usual starters. It has been a rough season for the Spaniard, and this game was easily its lowest point.

Eric was a disaster all night, providing absolutely nothing as a central midfielder, committing a silly penalty and then not only playing Cyle Larin onside but being destroyed on the run by Gonzalo Plata in Valladolid’s third goal once he was moved back into the defensive line in the second half. Barça’s depth at the back wasn’t an issue this season as the BACK quartet was healthy when it mattered, but you can’t assume things will stay the same next year. Eric might very well have to play a big part in Barça’s success, and he continues to provide very little reason for optimism.

Marcos Alonso: Alonso wasn’t quite as bad as Eric, but he wasn’t too far either. It is more and more evident that Marcos simply doesn’t belong in this team, and Xavi must take the blame for personally asking for his signing and using him far too often even when it became clear Alonso just cannot play at the highest level anymore. Pace was never his strength but you could count on his intelligence, passing and end product when he was at his best as a Chelsea player. All of those things are gone, and it’s become painful to watch him these days.

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