Three talking points ahead of Real Valladolid vs Barcelona
Barcelona take to the field once again tonight at Jose Zorilla for their penultimate away game of the season. The La Liga champions are the clear favourites to run away with three points against Real Valladolid, especially given the hosts’ dismal state on the table.
35 games into the season, Valladolid have won ten games and lost twenty (D5). With 62 goals conceded, they have the second-worst defensive record in the league this season.
Barcelona have not lost in their last seven meetings with Valladolid and even beat them 4-0 earlier this season. Paulo Pezzolano’s side direly need the win tonight, and it remains to be seen if Barça have what it takes to hold off a team playing with survival instinct on.
Barça Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Valladolid vs Barcelona.
1. Reigning champions
The La Liga trophy presentation at the weekend officially crowned Barcelona as the champions for 2022/23, adding the latest feather to their cap in the process. The games to come will thus be a mere formality for the Catalans who have completed all their objectives for the season.
Yet, Xavi Hernandez’s men cannot afford to slacken out in their final three games. After all, the title of champions is hard-earned and it would only be just for them to uphold it with their complete effort. Three wins in the final three games would be the ideal end to their season.
Coming off a defeat to Real Sociedad at Camp Nou, the Blaugrana must look to turn the tide tonight. The result on the weekend was easily dismissed by fans given the post-match presentation of the trophy, but the team will have no such comfort tomorrow. Needless to say, they will once again be held against their high standards.
Their opponents, Real Valladolid, are currently fighting relegation. At this stage in the campaign, a defeat could well mean an assured finish in the bottom three and they will thus turn up ready to give their all. Having already lost at the weekend to a team who simply needed the win more, will the Catalans fall to a similar result once again? Only time will tell.
2. Pablo Torre’s moment?
Young Pablo Torre has endured a difficult campaign at Barcelona so far. The administration initially asked the player to play for the lower teams and garner playing time under his belt, but the Spaniard stayed put and insisted on staying under Xavi Hernandez.
In a team with Pedri, Gavi, Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong, and Franck Kessie, his chances of starting were understandably low. However, Xavi has often resisted using the prodigy even when the situation demands his profile.
Torre has played a part in just six of Barcelona’s 35 La Liga games so far this season and does not have a single start to show. In his six games, he averages just over ten minutes per game.
With the season now done and dusted, Xavi Hernandez is prepared to give playing time to those players who have not seen much action all season. Torre too could thus play a major part tomorrow, as confirmed by the manager.
“Pablo Torre will have minutes tomorrow, just like others who’ve played less.”
3. Compromised defence
Ronald Araujo has arguably been Barcelona’s most vital player all season. The Uruguayan international has brought back the prestige of defending, and every save in Catalonia is now treated as nothing less than a goal.
The centre-back’s speed, reading of the game and astute tackling skills make him a golden asset during matches as he even steps in to fix his teammates’ mistakes. The impact of his absence was visible on Saturday when Jules Kounde’s slip-up went unattended to and resulted in Real Sociedad’s opening goal.
Araujo will once again be unavailable for Tuesday’s clash. This time, he will be joined on the sidelines by Jules Kounde who also sits out the proceedings with a mild muscular strain.
With both Kounde and Araujo not in the squad, Xavi will likely deploy an Andreas Christensen-Marcos Alonso back-line on Tuesday. Needless to say, the combination could lead to a compromised defence against Real Valladolid.
Barcelona have three more games to play and must concede two goals or less if they wish to beat the league’s record for the least goals conceded in a single season. To field a relatively weak defence at this stage could thus spell the end of any such hopes.