Barcelona – Real Valladolid: Last-Gasp Winner Maintains Title Charge Momentum (1-0)
Winning twelve and drawing one of their last thirteen games in the league, Barcelona's form left this matchup poised to go only one way. But Real Valladolid had other ideas. Switching to a 5-2-1-2 shape, they made life tough for the home team's rampant offense, holding out against a wave of attacks to take the game right to the death.
Tactical analysis and match report by Emmanuel Adeyemi-Abere.
Barcelona's pursuit of the summit has seen the side take leaps and bounds in recent months under Ronald Koeman, who saw his players annihilate Real Sociedad 6-1 in their last league outing. Now coming into this game after Atlético Madrid had lost to Sevilla, a win had grown in value. Claim a victory here, and the home team could close down the gap to the top of the table to just a single point.
In stark contrast, Real Valladolid are mired in a fight for survival. Currently sitting in sixteenth place, they are just three points clear of the bottom three. That said, they have managed to stem the flow of defeats in recent months, going four matches without a loss to pull away from the relegation zone. Now facing the in-form side of the league, they hoped to channel that run into pulling off a shock.
Given the success of the 3-4-3 shape in recent weeks, it was not a surprise to see Koeman set up his team in this system again. He also opted to pick the same starting eleven that began the . . .