Barcelona travels to Castile on Saturday to take on 14th-placed Valladolid in a do-or-die encounter that could see Barcelona concede the title to Real Madrid. Barcelona cannot afford any more slip-ups and will have to pick up three points from what can potentially be a tricky away fixture.
After a fantastic outing against Villarreal, Barcelona had a difficult time against local rivals Espanyol and the Catalan superstars scrapped their way to a difficult and laborious 1-0 victory.
Real Valladolid has been defensively astute since the La Liga restart but has struggled to create chances of note in the final third. The mid-table side narrowly lost to Valencia last week and will try to take something away from a difficult fixture against Barcelona.
Real Madrid is currently a point ahead of Barcelona in the La Liga table and is unlikely to falter against Alaves on Friday. Barcelona will hope to put on a better show than it did against Espanyol and pick up a crucial victory.
Valladolid vs Barcelona Head-to-Head
Barcelona picked up and emphatic victory in the reverse fixture against Valladolid and thrashed the La Liga outfit by a margin of 5-1 at the Camp Nou in one of Barcelona's best performances of the season.
Barcelona has played 13 La Liga fixtures against Valladolid and has gone away with the three points in 11 while losing only one game. The Catalans are favourites yet again this Saturday and will look to keep up their incredible scoring record against the home side.
Barcelona form guide: W-D-D-W-W
Espanyol form guide: D-D-D-W-L
Valladolid vs Barcelona Team News
Earlier this week, Quique Setien confirmed that Frenkie de Jong's recovery from his muscle injury is on track. The Dutch midfielder rejoined Barcelona's training sessions this week and may feature on the bench against Valladolid.
De Jong's return will be a massive boost to Barcelona's morale. The side has struggled due to a distinct lack of ideas in the middle of the pitch and Frenkie de Jong can certainly improve Barcelona's gameplay enormously.
Ansu Fati picked up a red card for a rash challenge against Espanyol and will serve his one-match suspension against Valladolid. With Ousmane Dembele also unavailable, Quique Setien will have to come up with new ways to solve Barcelona's problems on the flanks.
Injuries: Ousmane Dembele, Junior Firpo, Samuel Umtiti
Doubtful: Frenkie de Jong
Suspensions: Ansu Fati
Valladolid vs Barcelona Predicted XI
Valladolid Predicted XI (4-5-1): Jordi Masip; Nacho, Mohammed Salissu, Kiko Olivas, Javi Moyano; Oscar Plano, Michel, Fede San Emeterio, Toni Villa, Hatem Ben Arfa; Miguel De la Fuente
Barcelona Predicted XI (4-3-3): Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Nelson Semedo, Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic, Riqui Puig; Antoine Griezmann, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez
Valladolid vs Barcelona Prediction
Barcelona will not go easy on Valladolid and will have to put in an improved performance to prove to the fanbase that the Villarreal victory is now the norm and not an aberration. Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Antoine Griezmann are likely to start in attack and will hope to improve on their budding partnership.
Valladolid will take a leaf out of Espanyol's book and will employ a deep block to deny Barcelona any space in the final third. Unlike Villarreal, Valladolid does not have much to lose against Barcelona and will play for a draw. Hatem Ben Arfa is the home side's chief threat and can be deadly on the counter.
Barcelona needs to win against Valladolid to keep its slim hopes of retaining the La Liga title alive. Lionel Messi has not scored from open play in the last seven games and will want to end the streak against Valladolid. As is the norm, Barcelona is likely to clinch a victory but may well have yet another hard time against a well-drilled outfit.
Prediction - Valladolid 0-2 Barcelona
Published 09 Jul 2020, 22:50 IST