By 90Min
August 25, 2018

Barcelona continued their La Liga campaign with a tight 1-0 victory in Valladolid, as Leo Messi's genius was stunted by the near unplayable surface. 

Following on from an opening day win against Alaves, Spain's reigning champions were denied the opportunity to put on a show against La Blanquivioletas.  


On a pitch that can only be compared to the pastures reserved for grazing cattle, Barca took some time in composing themselves. Untidy passes from Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Rakitic littered what was a frustrating first half for the away side.

Octavio Passos/GettyImages

However, La Liga's dominant force clicked into gear for the second 45, as a goal from Ousmane Dembele granted Ernesto Valverde's team a narrow, but deserved victory. 

It wasn't without drama though, as Real Valladolid thought they had stolen a last gasp equaliser after Keko stooped to thunder in a diving header. However, the VAR system showed him to be marginally offside, and the finish was disallowed.


Key Talking Point


It's real shame such an issue destroyed what could've been a great game, but Real Valladolid's pitch was an absolute disgrace.

This underhand tactic to counter Barca's slick play was effective for a considerable period, but class eventually did tell. La Pucela's groundsman must have been on holiday, because there's no way any self respecting professional would allow this shambles. 

Devaluing the event, sprinklers bogged down an already over-watered pitch just before kick-off. Barcelona found it difficult to create any clear cut opportunities early on, and partly switched on their renowned style to go aerial. 

For fans that came hoping to see a spectacle, disappointed they will have been. Possibly fearing potential injuries due to the shoddy surface, the technical mastery of Messi and Philippe Coutinho found itself suppressed for the most part.

Laid only four days before the game, the field was wasn't good enough. One of the worst pitches ever seen at the top level; bobbles, players losing footing and the impossibility of full out sprints murdered any of the momentum that was briefly created. 


BARCELONA


Player Ratings


Starting XI: ter Stegen (7); Roberto (6), Pique (5), Umtiti (6), Jordi Alba (6); Busquets (7), Rakitic (6) Coutinho (7); Dembele (8*), Suarez (5), Messi (6)

Substitutes: Vidal (5), Malcom (7), Munir (N/A)


Star Man - Ousmane Dembele


The young forward came in with a gigantic price tag last season, and although goals against Chelsea and Villarreal showed promise, injury derailed the majority of his year.

BENJAMIN CREMEL/GettyImages

Scoring the winner against Sevilla in this term's Supercopa de Espana, the Frenchman is looking to kick on this campaign. The star of tonight's match, he helped put nerves to bed in what could've become a troublesome outing. 

Direct with his play, the ex-Borussia Dortmund man attacked Valladolid's defence throughout. A goal showing maturity beyond his years, the gorgeous side foot finish flew past a helpless Jordi Masip. Allowing his side to slow the tempo, Dembele outshone everybody else at the Estadio Jose Zorrilla.  


Worst Player - Gerard Pique


Positionally naive, Pique did his best to ruin Barcelona's clean sheet. Booked after an unintelligent lunge on Toni, his impact declined due to his inability to make any other important challenges.

Never tracking the runner, Samuel Umititi saved his blushes on more than one occasion. Ball watching was also a problem, with Keko missing a real chance to level after slipping his marker. If not for Pique's laziness, Lionel Messi or Luis Suarez could well have taken this title.  


REAL VALLADOLID


Player Ratings


Starting XI: Masip (7); Moyano (5), Kiko Olivas (6), Calero (6), Nacho (6); Borja (5), Alcaraz (6), Anuar (5), Oscar Plano (6), Toni (6); Enes Unal (7*)

Substitutes: Keko (7), Duje Cop (5), Verde (N/A) 


Star Man - Enes Unal  


Real Valladolid's frontman created a few chances, with an early shot well saved by Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Putting himself about for large portions of the match, Barcelona's centre backs had their hands full.

Unfortunate to be subbed by manager Sergio, the on loan Villarreal striker will definitely score important goals for Valladolid throughout this season. 

A mention for goalkeeper Masip, who made some solid saves. Substitute Keko was also lively, with his offside goal and overall movement another bright spot for La Pucela.


Worst Player - Javi Moyano


Nobody particularly stood out, as the majority of Barca's men were kept in check. However, with Ousmane Dembele the star player, it will have to be his opposing number, Javi Moyano.

Not horrendous, it was just that the fullback was beaten one too many times. Failing to pick up the winger for the game's only goal, he will likely be disappointed with his overall display. 


Looking Ahead


Real Valladolid wouldn't have expected to gain anything from this match, but the newly promoted side will no doubt gain heart from their scrappy performance. They will target points away to Getafe next Friday.

BENJAMIN CREMEL/GettyImages

La Blaugrana gear up to take on Huesca next week, and the Catalan club will be very confident about continuing on their form at Camp Nou.

If they are to retain the La Liga title, Barca will need to fend off the attack of both Atletico and Real Madrid. After a dogged display like this, you'd be brave man to bet against them. 

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)