Barcelona’s focus was obviously on the upcoming Champions League encounter against Lyon as they limped to an unconvincing 1-0 victory over Real Valladolid at home. FOX Sports Asia analyzes.
Even Ernesto Valverde accepted after the match that his charges had one eye on their upcoming Champions League encounter against Lyon as they hung on to a solitary Lionel Messi penalty to see out the match against 15th placed Real Valladolid.
However, on another day, it could have been a rout in favour of Barcelona, an underdog victory to the visiting side or even a drab, goalless draw.
It was truly one of those encounters. And here are the salient talking points from it.
#5 Lionel Messi steps up yet again
The little magician added his 30th goal of the season from the spot after Gerard Pique went down in the box- a tad too easily, I must add – towards the end of the first half.
That was his 30th goal in 30 appearances so far this season – along with 17 assists to his name.
Since the 2018 Ballon d’Or missed the entire point, this seems like Lionel Messi’s way of reminding the football world in boxer Roy Jones Jr.’s words what he is capable of: ‘y’all must have forgot.’
#4 Real Valladolid let slip their opportunity
Valladolid must have entered the half time break feeling aggrieved – and rightly so. They were the better team all things considered in the first half and yet, saw themselves go a goal down through a Lionel Messi penalty in the 40th minute.
They repeated hit Barcelona, who were pouring men forward, on the counter attack but were largely wasteful in front of goal. The statistics show 0 shots on target for the visiting team, but don’t let that fool you.
On another day, it could have easily been 2-0 to Valladolid at half time.
#3 Jordi Masip shines
Like any great side, Barcelona came out in the second half all guns blazing and should have put the game to bed by scoring at least 2 to 3 more goals – had it not been for an inspired performance from Valladolid ‘keeper Jordi Masip.
Masip kept Luis Suarez from scoring two one on one opportunities and also kept Lionel Messi at bay with a penalty save in the 85th minute, preventing the Barcelona talisman from doubling his and his team’s tally on the night.
#2 Coutinho still peripheral
Philippe Coutinho’s future has been the subject of much debate and discussion of late, with many reports suggesting that the Brazilian playmaker is on his way out of the club at the end of the season.
And his ineffectual performance when he came on in the second half highlighted exactly why that vein of thought hasn’t yet been quashed. Despite showing dexterous feet to win Barcelona’s second penalty, the Brazilian is clearly second choice behind Ousmane Dembele and didn’t create much by way of clear cut chances for his team
A wild shot in the dying minutes of the game that ended up in the stands perfectly summed up his season. Entirely off the mark.
#1 Champions League awaits
Lyon coach Bruno Genesio was in the stands to scout the opposition ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League encounter and would have been encouraged and concerned in equal parts.
Valladolid clearly showed that Barcelona are vulnerable on the counter attack but an improved second half showing from the home side also evinced that they are a different proposition altogether when they click into gear.
Genesio’s task is simple – on paper. To limit Barcelona to the type of performance they had in the first half while being more clinical than Real Valladolid in front of goal.