Three games remain in the La Liga campaign with Barça needing to win all three and hoping for two Real Madrid slip-ups in order to win the title. In the 36th matchday of the gruelling title race, Barça travel away to the José Zorrilla Stadium. Here’s the preview of the match between Real Valladolid and Barcelona.
Date and kick-off time: Saturday 11 July 2020, 18:30 CET
Stadium: José Zorrilla Stadium
Competition: La Liga, matchday 36
Referee: Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz
The title race this season is going to the wire. Barcelona’s 1–0 win over Espanyol on Wednesday may not have been the pleasant experience fans expected, but it gave them the three points. After all the hype over the 1–4 victory at Villarreal a week ago, the performance at home was disappointing. Espanyol’s 5–4–1 low block troubled the Catalans, with most of the dangerous chances coming from the visitors. Barça were lucky to get away with the three points in the expense of getting their neighbours relegated.
Barcelona beat Valladolid by 5–1 at the Camp No earlier this season | Photo by Enric Fontcuberta via Imago
Since the restart, Barcelona have been jumping back and forth from Camp Nou to an away game every other matchday. So, following the trend, they travel to Valladolid this time after the fixture at home. The hosts sit at 14th in the table making a good case for themselves to escape relegation for the second year in a row. To mathematically secure themselves, they need only a point from the three remaining.
The duel, understandably, is more important to Barcelona than Valladolid. The reverse fixture saw Ernesto Valverde’s Barça trash the then-visitors for five goals to one. However, away from home, the same kind of scoreline or performance is a far cry. As much as the three points are crucial, Barça must fix a system which gets the maximum possible performance from the players.
What to expect from Real Valladolid?
Real Valladolid almost always line up in a 4–4–2 in which the players remain in their half defending deep. They have conceded the least among the clubs in the bottom half of the table. The compact defending and the pragmatism has resulted in them searching for goals often. That does not mean that they have deficient attackers. The strikers are quick, tall and are not afraid to have a go. Sergi Guardiola, Enes Ünal and former Barça striker Sandro Ramírez are all capable of troubling the visitors on the break.
“Our goal is to achieve as many victories as possible, because we want that avoiding relegation is on our own merit”
Real Valladolid coach
Now, after witnessing the Espanyol game, they might choose to add an extra body in midfield packing the central areas. Valladolid tend to use the flanks well, and Barça’s formation fits right into their strength. With the full-backs up the field providing width for the blaugranas, the hosts might try to release long balls to runners out wide. The tactics worked for Espanyol as the Barcelona centre-backs are relatively slow.
Understandably, Valladolid will play without possession, maintaining their shape and trying to block off attacks down the middle. Nevertheless, they are without the service of Mohammed Salisu and Míchel Herrero, with both of them out injured. The former has been a constant in the back four and the later being crucial in sending out-balls.
What to expect from Barcelona?
Barcelona hoped to gain momentum after that exciting display at Villarreal. But, the Derbi barcelonés muffled everything. Like always, Barça struggled against the low block, failing to create and being vulnerable at the back. With Sergi Roberto and Iván Rakitić in midfield, there was very little creative output as there were very fewer transitions involved. With no genuine winger involved, and the full-backs underperforming, the Barça attack got easily nullified.
“Valladolid is not entirely saved [from relegation] and will try to [secure their safety] in this match. We have to win, yes or yes. We have to be focused and attentive. They are not going to make it easy for us. We may have to get to the last match [of the season] to have the option of winning La Liga”
While the new formation brings all of the MSG attacking trio – Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Antoine Griezmann – into the picture, it fails to provide width. But, with Ansu Fati suspended after picking a red card, Quique Setién may once again go with the same unless he decides to trust Martin Braithwaite. The bright side is that he can tweak the formation and personnel to achieve better while playing his best three attackers. By playing Riqui Puig, he can add extra creativity in midfield. Sergi Roberto can move to right-back, where he can utilise the space ahead of him and progress the ball.
The squad list for the game is shorter than the regular one, as most of the Barça B players are unavailable as they prepare for their play-offs to the Second Division. Only Riqui Puig, Ronald Araújo and goalkeeper Arnau Tenas, from the Juvenil A, are present. The restricted matchday squad calls for fewer options from the bench. Samuel Umtiti, Arthur Melo and Frenkie de Jong are out injured, and Ansu is out serving a suspension. Setién also must not forget to rest his star players like Lionel Messi, Gerard Piqué, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba as they have been playing continuously since the restart.
Real Valladolid CF
Last 5 games: LWDDD
Valencia 2–1 Real Valladolid | La Liga
Real Valladolid 1–0 Deportivo Alavés | La Liga
Real Valladolid 0–0 Levante | La Liga
Sevilla 1–1 Real Valladolid | La Liga
Real Valladolid 1–1 Getafe | La Liga
Position in La Liga
39 points in 35 games
8 wins, 15 draws and 12 losses
29 Goals Scored, 39 Goals Conceded
–10 Goal Difference
“I love Piqué when building up from the back, Ter Stegen, Busquets, who is differential, and Messi, who makes all the difference in the final third”
Last 5 games: WWDDW
Barcelona 1–0 Espanyol | La Liga
Villarreal 1–4 Barcelona | La Liga
Barcelona 2–2 Atlético de Madrid | La Liga
Celta de Vigo 2–2 Barcelona | La Liga
Barcelona 1–0 Athletic Club de Bilbao | La Liga
Position in La Liga
76 points in 35 games
23 wins, 7 draws and 5 losses
79 Goals Scored, 36 Goals Conceded
+43 Goal Difference
Last 5 meetings
Barcelona 5–1 Real Valladolid | La Liga, 19/20
Barcelona 1–0 Real Valladolid | La Liga, 18/19
Real Valladolid 0–1 Barcelona | La Liga, 18/19
Real Valladolid 1–0 Barcelona | La Liga, 13/14
Barcelona 4–1 Real Valladolid | La Liga, 13/14
• Barcelona are undefeated in their last nine La Liga games
• There have been under 2.5 goals scored in 16 of Real Valladolid’s last 20 home games in La Liga
• Barça are unbeaten in their last four away games in La Liga
Team news and possible line-ups
Real Valladolid CF
Injured: Mohammed Salisu and Míchel Herrero
Moyano · Kiko Olivas · Javi Sánchez · Raúl García
Óscar Plano · Alcaraz · San Emeterio · Toni Villa
Guardiola · Sandro
Coach: Sergio González Soriano
Injured: Ousmane Dembélé (hamstring), Frenkie de Jong (calf), Samuel Umtiti (knee), Arthur (tonsillitis)
Suspended: Ansu Fati
“He doesn’t have minutes now but he can have them. His involvement is the same. He tries to give his best in each training session. We are going to need everyone”
on Arthur Melo
Sergi Roberto · Piqué · Lenglet · Jordi Alba
Rakitić · Busquets · Riqui Puig
Griezmann · Suárez
Coach: Quique Setién
A win for Barcelona would be the expected outcome. It is indispensable for Barça, and for Real Valladolid a defeat would be far from the end of the world. Meanwhile, a victory for the locals would be dramatic for the azulgranas, and a “cherry on top of the cake” for the Pucelanos, as coach Sergio González described it.
Possibly Barcelona’s main difficulty on Saturday will be to break the compact block of Valladolid, who have the seventh best defence in the league but the third worst attack. Still, if the hosts learn from Barça’s last game against Espanyol, they could aim to exploit the Catalans’ gaps at the back through counter-attacks. That said, for quality and necessity, there is a clear favourite. The writer’s prediction: 0–3 for Barcelona.
Barcelona vs Ferencváros: Match Preview
Just three days after the gruelling game away at Getafe, Barça are back in action again. Champions League starts once again, as the Catalans prepare for their first home game of the campaign. Here’s the preview of the match between Barcelona and Ferencváros.
Date and kick-off time: Tuesday 20 October 2020, 21:00 CET
Stadium: Camp Nou
Competition: UEFA Champions League, Group Stage, Matchday 1
Referee: Sandro Schärer
The Champions League is back. The grandest of stages of club football is returning once again, barely two months after last season’s final. The group stages of the UEFA Champions League start this week with Barcelona in the group G. The first matchday sees Barça host Ferencváros in the Camp Nou, with Juventus and Dynamo Kyiv to follow in the coming weeks.
The competition has not been kind to Barcelona lately with disappointments reigning over happiness in the last four seasons. But, with a new coach, new players, and a new season, anything can change. The players can approach the new campaign with a fresh mindset without the pressure of being overwhelming favourites.
“We’re not the best favourites to win the Champions League, but we can go far.”Ronald Koeman (pre-match press conference)
The visitors are playing their first official game against Barcelona in their history. The Hungarians are back in the Champions League after a few stints in the Europa League. They have reached here after playing the qualifications and the playoffs and have accustomed to the competition. Nonetheless, they are the underdogs of Group G, and a positive result on the first matchday would send a statement to the other teams.
The hosts are understandably the favourites in the matchup, and the fans would expect a statement victory here to win them over. The hosts come from a defeat on the weekend, while the visitors remain unbeaten in their league. The Champions League can spring surprises out of nowhere, and the weekend of surprises could extend for the sake of the visitors.
What to expect from Barcelona?
Barça have played four official games this season coming into this game. While the first two displayed the strengths of the team, the latter two revealed the weaknesses of the new system and the players. Ronald Koeman has stuck with his 4-2-3-1 for all the games, and a lack of plan B is appalling. In the last two games, where the team struggled to break down blocks or navigate press, Koeman has just thrown in attacking players as subs.
While the attacking quality and technical proficiency are omnipresent, the lack of understanding between the players is concerning. However, the season is just getting started, and it would get better over the course of the season. The squad is arguably better and younger than previous seasons despite a few deficiencies in certain areas.
📰 — Koeman will make rotations against Ferencvarosi tomorrow, with the possibility of including Pjanic in the starting line-up. Fati and Coutinho will also most likely return to the starting XI. [md] pic.twitter.com/j4BuLXJ53I— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) October 19, 2020
The squad list will mostly remain the same as the last game with none of the injured players expected to return. With Real Madrid game on the weekend, a little rotation is likely from Ronald Koeman. Most of the players have travelled and played a lot during the international break, and this game could be a chance to rest them. Irrespective of the eleven in place, the prime objective would be to win the game with a good performance setting up for the next games.
What to expect from Ferencváros?
The Hungarian Champions play Barcelona for the first time in an official game despite getting found on the same year as Barcelona(1899). Over the years, they have played multiple friendlies against Barça with the last one happening 43 years ago. From a statistical point of view, the Catalans are unbeaten over the six games that happened over the course of more than 50 years.
The Zöld Sasok were one of the best teams in the country’s history during the mid 20th century. Hungary was the epitome of football during the era where they were better than any other country on the planet despite the lack of laurels. Ferencváros was Barça legend László Kubala’s home before he came to Spain as a refugee. He even returned to the Catalan club in a later stint as a coach.
Ferencváros have a settled eleven that they have used over the season. They have primarily used 4-2-3-1, the same as Barça. With two league victories in the last two years, they have secured a spot in the UCL after 25 years. With nine goals in the five qualifying games, they have an able attack to challenge big teams on the counter. Tokmac Chol Nguen is their top scorer this season and can be a potential goal threat cutting in from the left.
Coming into the game as obvious underdogs, they have a chance to spring a surprise with no expectations from their side. In recent years, Barça have struggled against the underdogs to some extent in the group stages.
Previous games: LDWWW
Getafe 1–0 Barcelona | La Liga
Barcelona 1–1 Sevilla | La Liga
Celta Vigo 0–3 Barcelona | La Liga
Barcelona 4–0 Villarreal | La Liga
Barcelona 1–0 Elche | Joan Gamper Trophy
Position in La Liga
7 points in 4 games
2 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss
8 Goals Scored, 2 Goals Conceded
+6 Goal Difference
“We’ve played four games and we’ve scored eight goals, I don’t know if there is any team who does better. I’m not worried about scoring goals, we have enough quality. The last two games we’ve also played against teams that defend very well.”Ronald Koeman (pre-match press conference)
Previous games: WWDDW
Kisvarda 0–2 Ferencváros | Nemzeti Bajnokság
Ferencváros 2–1 Puskas Akademia| Nemzeti Bajnokság
Ferencváros 0–0 Molde | Nemzeti Bajnokság
Molde 3–3 Ferencváros | Nemzeti Bajnokság
Rackeve 1–6 Ferencváros | Magyur Kupa
Position in Nemzeti Bajnokság
13 points in 5 games
4 win, 1 draw and 0 losses
12 Goals Scored, 3 Goal Conceded
+9 Goal Difference
Last 5 meetings
Barcelona 3–0 Ferencváros | Friendly
Barcelona 2–2 Ferencváros | Friendly
Barcelona 3–3 Ferencváros | Friendly
Barcelona 4–0 Ferencváros | Friendly
Barcelona 2–0 Ferencváros | Friendly
• Barcelona are undefeated in their last 5 matches against Ferencváros.
• The last game between the two teams happened 43 years ago.
• Ferencváros are undefeated in 12 of their last 13 matches (Champions League).
Team news and possible line-ups
Injured: Samuel Umtiti (knee), Marc-André ter Stegen (Tendon), Jordi Alba (Hamstring)
Roberto · Ronald Araújo · Lenglet · Dest
Frenkie de Jong · Pjanić
Dembélé · Griezmann · Fati
Coach: Ronald Koeman
Lovrencsics · Blazic · Kovacevic · Heister
Somalia · Kharatin·
Isael · Siger · Nguen
Coach: Serhiy Rebrov
The first Champions League game of the season for Barcelona is with possibly the most comfortable opponent they could have had. Even with heavy rotations, winning this game should be a cake-walk. However, anything can happen on UCL nights.
Barça Universal prediction: 4-0 win for the Catalans.