Preview: Barcelona vs. Real Valladolid Team News
Preview: Barcelona vs. Real Valladolid Team News
Barcelona will be looking to return to winning ways following three successive draws when they welcome Real Valladolid to Camp Nou in La Liga on Saturday night.
Ernesto Valverde‘s side are still top of the table but are now just six points clear of second-placed Real Madrid, having drawn their last two league fixtures against Valencia and Athletic Bilbao.
Barcelona have had an incredibly busy fixture list in the early stages of 2019, but they have had a free week ahead of this match, which was much-needed due to their sheer volume of games.
The nature of the Copa del Rey and its two-legged affairs has bloated the club’s fixture list, but their Champions League last-16 tie against Lyon is next week, meaning that they have not been in action since a goalless draw with Athletic Bilbao at San Mames last weekend.
Lionel Messi started for the Catalan giants amid fears over a thigh problem, but it was clear that the Argentine was not fully fit and Barcelona did not do enough to deserve to collect all three points.
The draw with Bilbao followed a 1-1 with Real Madrid in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final, while they were also held in their last league match on home soil – a 2-2 draw with Valencia on February 2.
Entering Week 24, Valverde’s side are still top of the table, but the gap to second position – now occupied by Madrid – is just six points, with the European champions in a fine run of form at the moment.
Barcelona just need to be careful that they do not take their eye off the ball in the coming weeks. As mentioned, they will travel to Lyon for the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie next week, before visiting Sevilla in La Liga next weekend.
Then comes the small matter of the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final at the Bernabeu, before visiting Los Blancos once again on March 2 in the league. It is a potentially season-defining run of matches and they will not relish taking on Madrid, who have seriously turned a corner in recent weeks.
Barcelona have only lost two of their 23 league matches this season, though, and will be extremely confident of putting three points on the board when they welcome Valladolid on Saturday night.
Back in La Liga after securing promotion via the Segunda Division playoffs last term, Valladolid have collected 26 points from their 23 matches this season to occupy 15th position in the table entering the latest round of fixtures.
Six wins, eight draws and nine defeats – that is how Valladolid have performed in the league this term. It has been a decent campaign thus far when considering that they are just three points off 11th, but no team has scored fewer than their 19 La Liga goals at this stage of the 2018-19 season.
Finding the back of the net has been a real struggle this term, while they have only been victorious in one of their last eight league matches. They suffered a 4-0 defeat at Huesca earlier this month, but will enter this match off the back of a goalless draw at home to Villarreal last time out.
The White and Violets spent four seasons in Segunda Division following their relegation at the end of the 2013-14 campaign, but are now back in the top tier and will be desperate to keep their spot at this level of football.
Unlike Barcelona, Valladolid only have league football to worry about between now and the end of the season. For the most part, that means just one game a week. Indeed, this is their penultimate fixture before the end of the month.
Valladolid’s away form has actually been better than their home form this season, having lost just four of their 12 matches on their travels, collecting 14 points in the process. Barcelona have been very strong at home during the 2018-19 campaign, however, and it is some ask to expect the visitors to triumph this weekend.
Sergio Gonzalez‘s team have not finished in the top half of La Liga since the 1999-2000 season. There is still a long way to go this term, but a positive result this weekend would leave the fans dreaming.
Samuel Umtiti is back in training for Barcelona after seemingly overcoming his troublesome knee problem. The Frenchman has not played for the Catalan giants since November, but is now nearing a first-team return.
It seems likely that Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet will continue in central defence this weekend, though, while Jordi Alba will return after missing the draw with Bilbao through suspension.
Ousmane Dembele could take Philippe Coutinho‘s spot in the final third, while Messi will have benefited from the break in fixtures to take care of his thigh problem and the Argentine should start.
Arthur is still on the sidelines with a hamstring problem, however, meaning that there could be a start for Carles Alena as Arturo Vidal struggled to impress at Bilbao last time out.
As for Valladolid, Fernando Calero is available to return having missed the draw with Villarreal through suspension.
Jordi Masip will start against the club that he represented between 2004 and 2017, but there could be changes from the team that featured last weekend, with Borja Fernandez and Enas Unal expected to feature.
A muscular problem is again expected to rule Duje Cop out of contention.
Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Busquets, Rakitic, Alena; Dembele, L Suarez, Messi
Real Valladolid possible starting lineup:
Masip; Moyano, Olivas, J Fernandez, Nacho; Hervias, Alcaraz, B Fernandez, Keko; Plano, Unal
Head To Head
Barcelona recorded a 1-0 win in the reverse fixture earlier this season, with Dembele scoring the only goal of the match just before the hour.
Valladolid managed a 1-0 victory over Barcelona on home soil in March 2014, but suffered a 4-1 defeat when they last travelled to Camp Nou in October 2013.
In the last five league meetings between the two teams at Camp Nou – which have all ended in home victories – Barcelona have scored 20 times.