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Three talking points from Real Valladolid 3-1 Barcelona



Photo by CESAR MANSO/AFP via Getty Images

Barcelona crashed to a 3-1 defeat to Real Valladolid at Jose Zorrilla on Tuesday night in what was their second defeat on the run in La Liga.

Andreas Christensen opened the scoring for the visitors with an unfortunate deflected header while Cyle Larin doubled the lead before half-time from the penalty spot.

The second half was largely goalless for a long time, but Gonzalo Plata rubbed salt into Barcelona’s wounds with a third goal. Robert Lewandowski’s late strike came as a consolation, but just like the game last weekend against Real Sociedad, was not enough to trigger a comeback.

Barça Universal brings you three talking points from Real Valladolid 3-1 Barcelona.

1. Ter Stegen’s crashing dream

It is not often that one sees a goalkeeper coming off during the course of a game. For it to happen no clear injury or fitness struggle has a probability of close to zero.

Tuesday brought one such strange night when the world’s most in-form goalkeeper, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, came off at half-time. Xavi Hernandez revealed the reason during his post-match press conference as he said:

“Zamora Trophy objective for Ter Stegen is clear and we want to help him. Having achieved the collective goals, now we only have individual goals left.”

A few weeks ago, the German was well on course to breaking the league’s record for the most clean sheets in the season. Given his astounding goals conceded per game ratio, he was the overwhelming favourite for the Zamora Trophy.

The past two games, however, have been disastrous for Barcelona and Ter Stegen. The defensive level, in particular, has fallen steeply.

Against Real Sociedad, the Blaugrana conceded a tame opener after Jules Kounde’s glaring mistake. The second goal too came after a lapse from the defensive line and came against the run of play.

Last night, the German ace conceded two goals. The first came as an unfortunate own goal by Andreas Christensen while the second was a penalty and it is safe to say that the shot-stopper cannot be blamed for either.

Barcelona have been without the services of Ronald Araujo for the past two games and were inflicted a further blow in the form Kounde’s absence before the midweek game. While the absence of regular centre-backs no longer has any bearing on Barcelona’s season, it does not come without repercussion.

Ter Stegen’s season has been phenomenal so far and it would be disastrous for him to miss out on accolades only for a poor run of games after Barcelona sealed the title. Xavi’s priority is thus, understandably, on individual awards.

2. A no show

Suffering from title hangover. (Photo by CESAR MANSO/AFP via Getty Images)

One would expect the La Liga champions to go on a celebratory run of dominance after sealing the title against Espanyol. The story, however, has been the polar opposite.

Since securing the title, Barcelona have operated at a dismal level. There has been no drive to win and no show of purpose. Both defeats against Real Sociedad and Real Valladolid harbour scorelines that are kind on the Catalans and it is clear that they lack the desire to win.

The game on Wednesday showed everything that is wrong with Barça’s period of gloating. Facing a relegation-threatened side, the Blaugranas created lower XG than Paulo Pezzolano’s men and had a lower number of big chances. They hit the woodwork twice and had two lethal counterattacks.

It is indeed understandable for the team to be on cloud nine after winning La Liga. Yet, the accomplishment is far from the European glory they aim for, and such careless play after just one title is unwarranted.

3. Substitutions with no impact

Xavi Hernandez used all five available substitutions against Real Valladolid but none of them made any tangible impact on the result. More importantly, none of the players called upon made the team better on the field.

The first changes of the night came at half-time when Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Sergi Roberto came off for Inaki Pena and Franck Kessie respectively.

The former was lucky to have not conceded twice in the second half and has only the crossbar to thank for the same. Meanwhile, Kessie contributed nothing towards breaking the Valladolid defence and played an overtly safe game.

The next set of changes saw Ferran Torres and Ousmane Dembele enter the field of play. In 30 minutes, they completed seven and six passes respectively. That statistic says enough about their performance.

The final player off the bench on Tuesday was Ansu Fati. The youngster also contributed nothing solid in his 14 minutes and could not create any threat in front of goal.

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