Over the course of the last few weeks, Barcelona have well and truly handed control of the La Liga title race to their bitter rivals Real Madrid. The hope for the reigning champions now is that they can continue to put the pressure on Real and hope that they slip up, and last night, Barca kept their side of the deal as they edged out Real Valladolid in a tight encounter.
Pushing the tempo
There was no real feeling out process for the visitors as they went in search of an early goal to really let Valladolid know what they had come to achieve in this game. They started incredibly brightly with dominant spurts and strong possession throughout the first half, and within 15 minutes, they had managed to take the lead as midfielder Arturo Vidal placed a low effort into the bottom corner after a nice pass from the one and only Lionel Messi.
The opportunities to level things up were clear for Valladolid, but they were just unable to take their chances as and when they came to them. Their finishing wasn’t quite at the level it needed to be at in order to overcome the goliath that is Barcelona, but in addition to that, Marc-Andre ter Stegen was at the top of his game as he preserved a clean sheet.
Keeping it interesting
As the minutes ticked by Barcelona definitely appeared to fade a little bit, in the same vein as a heavyweight boxer who is desperately running out of energy. Their output had been pretty heavy throughout and they were wearing the damage, but the most important thing that they’ll take away from this was the three points that kept them in the title hunt.
Barca will now take stock of this result and turn their attention towards another big moment in their domestic campaign as they prepare to host Osasuna on Thursday evening. The real big one, though, will come in the form of Real Madrid’s trip to take on Granada tomorrow night, with Zinedine Zidane’s men knowing that they’ve got a fight on their hands.
Real Valladolid: Masip (7), Garcia (6), Sanchez (6.5), Olivas (6), Moyano (6.5), Alcaraz (6), Fernandez (6), Emeterio (6), Perez (7.5), Plano (6.5), Guardiola (6.5), Unal (6.5), Rubio (6), Hervias (6.5), Nacho (6.5), Ramirez (6)
Barcelona: ter Stegen (7.5), Semedo (7.5), Pique (8), Lenglet (6.5), Alba (7), Roberto (7), Busquets (7), Puig (7), Vidal (8.5), Messi (8), Griezmann (6), Araujo (6.5), Suarez (6), Firpo (6), Rakitic (6.5)
Referee: Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz
Yellow Cards: Alcaraz, Perez, Lenglet, Alba
Red Cards: N/A
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