Vidal and Puig shine against Valladolid as Barça secure three vital points against Valladolid despite a poor second-half display. Barça adds another win to their six-match winning streak at Estadio José Zorrilla on Matchday 35. Here’s a full match summary.
Beginning with the starting line-up, Quique Setién has put out an unusual 4-1-2-2 starting line-up compared to the previous game’s 4-3-3. Very Surprisingly, Luis Suarez was left out of the starting line-up. Throughout the rest of the season, Setién has always played Suarez ahead of Antoine Griezmann. But in this game against Valladolid, he seems to have moved on from Luis Suarez as his first-choice striker.
Setién has finally introduced the young exciting midfielder Riqui Puig in his starting line-up. Puig has been the center of attraction ever since the manager has shown faith in him. He has proved it several times in this season especially after the break that he is ready for the first team. The Catalan deservedly gets to start with Roberto, Busquets, and Vidal in this midfield.
Apart from that, Setién has pretty much stuck with the same starting combination as he has in the previous games with pique and Lenglet at the back, Semedo, and Alba at RB and LB positions respectively.
Real Valladolid (4-5-1)
Moyana, Oliyas, Sanchez, García;
Plano, Ameritó, Fernández, Alcaraz, Muñoz;
Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba;
Barcelona started off well on an attacking note earlier in the first half. The Blaugranas came close to scoring with the youngster, Riqui Puig having a shot on target early in the fifth minute. Arturo Vidal broke the deadlock earlier on during the first twenty minutes. Messi had his twentieth assist of the season which makes him the first player to do so in a single Laliga season since the legendary Xavi himself in the 2008/09 Laliga season.
Barça had another chance right after the first goal with Antoine Griezmann who scuffed his effort wide as the Frenchman couldn’t connect the ball being totally unmarked. Barcelona had several chances later in the first half with Puig and Messi but they couldn’t really put one behind Masip. Apart from the goal scorer Vidal, Semedo and Puig have been the highlights of the first half.
Semedo during the first half
At the other end, Valladolid striker Kike Perez had the best chance for the home team who failed to score as he slipped at the vital moment. It is still 1:0 at the end of the first half and the game still pretty much remains in balance.
Goal Arturo Vidal 0-1: 14′
Arturo Vidal put Barcelona ahead 1-0 earlier on in the 14th minute with a brilliant strike from inside the box. Messi fed a through ball to Vidal, who turned into space on the right inside Chanel. He struck it hard across goal and it goes off the post before hitting the net. Messi yet again gets another assist adding to his extraordinary tally of 20 assists.
Quique Setién has made one change during the half time break. He replaced Antoine Griezmann with Luis Suarez as Griezmann has struggled once again after being trusted with starting duties. At the beginning of the first half, Valladolid threatened the Barcelona goal with Perez and nacho having a shot on target but Ter Stegan dealt with it comfortably.
Although Riqui Puig has been one of the best players on the pitch so far, Setién seemed unimpressed with Barca’s second-half start as he replaced Riqui Puig with Ivan Rakitic and Clement Lenglet with the youngster Ronald Araujo. But, Barcelona continued to struggle despite those changes forcing ter Stegen into action to keep Valladolid at bay after Unal tried to head it in the bottom right corner.
As a result of a couple of poor second-half substitutions by Quique Setién, the home side kept dominating Barcelona deep into the second half. The Blaugranas clearly looked fatigued during the game and there were clear indications of a lapse of concentration in several instances during the entire second half.
Nacho Martinez for Raul Garcia – 25′
Eres Ünal for Ruben Alcaraz – 45′
Pablo Harivaz for Jaoqin Fernandez-45′
Luis Suarez for Antoine Griezmann-45′
Araujo For Lenglet -57′
Racitić for Puig-57′
Ramirez for Guardiola Navarro -57′
Junior Firpo For Sergio Busquets -74′
Waldo Rubin Martin for Oscar Plano – 81′
CONCLUSION OF MATCH SUMMARY:
Vidal’s selection in the starting XI has always been questioned in the past and even today when he was named in the lineup and Quique Setién also received a lot of criticism for it. The Chilean has put an end to it today by scoring a goal which turned out to be the match-winner and vital for the three points.
Despite today’s win, club rivals Real Madrid winning their 35th Laliga title seems almost inevitable as they continue to maintain their 4-point lead at the top of the table over Barcelona, thanks to their 2-0 win against Alavés yesterday.
Barça will now have a much needed four-day break before they face Osasuna at home on Thursday. Meanwhile, the cules have to hope for Real Madrid to drop points in their upcoming games, to have any chance of winning the league which seems very unlikely going by the current form of the Los Blancos.
With only three games left before the champions league return, it’s time for Quique setien to concentrate and start preparing for the Napoli game and the games beyond if go past Napoli as we have some tough quarter-final and semi-final draws in the champions league.
That’s the end of Match Summary, do check out our Players review and review