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Deportivo La Coruña
8 March 2014
• Estadio Municipal José Zorrilla, Valladolid
Referee: Alejandro José Hernández Hernández
• Attendance: 22921
F. Rossi 17'
Shots on Target
It's been a pleasure folks, see you soon.
What a win for Valladolid, who move onto 26 points which takes them out of the relegation zone. A famous and well deserved scalp for Martinez and his hard working team. Barca though continue their rotten form with another loss, and are slipping further away from retaining their Liga crown. They created hardly anything of note all game, and their Liga destiny is now out of their hands.
90' + 5'
Alves nearly caught on it inside his own area with Guerra hot on his heels, but he manages to clear just in time. Barca cannot get the ball back up the pitch in time, and the referee blows the final whistle!
90' + 3'
Valladolid are milking the clock at every opportunity, as Marino takes a cool 30 seconds to line up and take a goalkick. The referee is allowing them to get on with such gamesmanship though.
90' + 1'
90' + 1'
Into the first minute of stoppage time. Barcelona have four additional minutes to salvage anything from this game. I wouldn't bet on it though, based on how this game has gone.
Alves caught offside just has he looked to have escaped down the right hand side in a dangerous position inside the box. It's been a very below par game from the Brazilian right back.
Pedro tries to wriggle away from his marker and manufacture an inch of space for himself. but he loses his balance instead. The ball is cleared to Guerra, who nearly beats Mascherano to the ball, and he would have had a clean run on goal had he done so!
Adriano nearly caught in possession deep in his own half, as a few late forays forward from the home side have taken the pressure away from in front of their own goal. The clock keeps ticking...
Valladolid are right back down at the other end of the pitch, and nearly kill this game off! Rama does excellently to evade Alves on the near side, and he clips in a pass to fellow substitute Oscar. He manages to get a touch on the ball but it loops over the bar! That was close!
Not for the first time, the referee has to instruct the Valladolid wall to move back the full 10 yards. Messi then curls a shot on target, but Marino reads it all the way and races off his line to catch the ball comfortably.
Yellow CardÁlvaro Rubio
Alvaro Rubio gives away a free kick after a ball caught him on the forearm on the edge of the box. A yellow card is awarded a tad harshly to the Valladolid skipper, but more pertinently, Barca have a free kick in a dangerous position.
Sanchez loses the ball inside the area just when the home fans were getting worried. In his frustration, he fouls Pena as he attempts to win back the ball. It'll come right back at the hosts though.
All one way traffic now in the direction of Marino's goal. Valladolid have everyone back in the defensive half, as well they should with four opposition forwards on the field. More strikers doesn't necessarily mean more goals though. Will the visitors be able to create much?
Pena takes one for the team, bringing down Pedro on the right hand side, and getting booked straight away by the referee. He wouldn't mind that one bit though, as it's all a part of the larger plan, with his team so close to the points.
Yellow CardCarlos Peña
Why not? Tata waits only a minute before making his final change of the game. On comes Tello and off goes Neymar in a like for like swap, with the young Spaniard taking the Brazilian's place on the left flank. Four strikers on the pitch, and a very, very attacking 3-3-4 formation now, or a 3-3-1-3 for the initiated.
Another change for Barca, as Pique is hauled off, after an admittedly solid game, for Roberto. The visitors looking to switch to three at the back now in a bid to force the issue more in attack.
Sensible move from Martinez to take off Bergdich, who came close to picking up a second yellow card after tussling with Alves and wrestling him to the ground. Rama is on for the final stretch.
Pedro and Alves are pulled up in quick succession for some careless fouls. This plays right into the hands of Valladolid in their bid to close out this game and the three points. The hosts have been rather cautious since the start of the second half, but can you blame them at all?
Barca are starting to run out of time here. Sanchez's introduction has done nothing to spark a change in their attacking momentum. Carlo Ancelotti and Diego Simeone are watching this and loving it, I bet.
Valladolid make their second change of the game as Manucho is replaced by Oscar. The one time Manchester United forward did not have much of a sight on goal, but was very threatening off the ball, helping to open up space for the likes of Guerra.
Pique becomes the first Barcelona player to be booked this afternoon, after a careless handball just outside his own box. Rossi takes charge of the resulting set piece, but skids it well wide of the post.
Barca now have Messi, Neymar, Pedro and Sanchez out on the pitch. You would probably expect the former to hold a deeper position behind the latter three, who are all better equipped to be on the end of things rather than dictating play. All guns a blazing it seems.
Martino responds with his initial swap, taking off the disappointing Fabregas and bringing on Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean has scored a number of crucial goals for the Blaugrana this season, and his addition brings an intriguing prospect up front.
First sub of the game and it comes from Martinez. Valiente has put in a hard working shift in the middle of the park, but with Barca starting to dominate the ball once again, he's swapped out for fresher legs in the form of Sastre.
Oh dear. Head-shaking miss from Neymar. Messi was swarmed by three players near the top of the box, and after a failed attempt to to control the ball, he inadvertently knocks the ball into the path of the unmarked Brazilian on the left side. He has the whole goal to aim for but shanks his shot over the top.
Guerra does excellently to hold off Alves near the centre circle, and stroke a lovely ball down the line for Manucho. He tries to escape down to the byeline, but Pique reads his intentions and shepherds him over the line and away from danger.
Barca have dominated possession since the restart of the game and to their credit, they've tested Marino already via Messi's drive. More play in the final third from the visitors, but Valladolid have been organized and have had luck on their side. This is encouraging for Martino and his men though.
Yellow CardFausto Rossi
Rossi gets a yellow card for his troubles after taking out Xavi in midfield. Second booking of the game now, and both have gone to Valladolid players. Perhaps a potential chink in their armor as their hard work to stop the Catalans occasionally crosses the disciplinary line.
Valdes gets away with a poor clearance after a backpass from Mascherano, but Guerra cannot bring the ball under control in time. He seemed as surprised as any at the lack of urgency shown by the keeper there, and the ball sprung up awkwardly as he struggled to take it in stride.
MARINO DENIES MESSI AGAIN! The Argentine sprints a step ahead of the last defender, and advances into the box down the right side. He takes it a little too far wide though, and the tight angle means that Marino can block the shot at his near post with his leg.
Yellow CardZakarya Bergdich
The game restarts, and immediately Bergdich is shown a yellow card for going in dangerously on a challenge with Adriano for a ball in the air. Hints of an elbow there, but more carelessness than anything.
Not been a pretty sight for the Catalans so far, who were outplayed for some spells and find themselves a goal down and with plenty of work to do to get back in the game. They have held about two thirds of possession, but have not been able to create anything with it, as their attack has been decidedly out of sync. Valladolid deserve all the credit in the world for their energetic and hard working display. Stay tuned for the restart soon.
Despite some time wasted by both teams setting themselves up during the buildup to a few free kicks, the referee only allows two seconds of added time before blowing the whistle for the half time break.
Busquets digs the ball over to the right flank for Dani Alves, who spots Messi and Neymar in the area, flashing in a cross for the pair to attack. However, the ball does not make it past the first defender at the near post. Predictable, and easily defended.
Pedro hits a heavy pass through the middle, and it's nowhere near the intended target of Fabregas. Another sloppy pass and another move that breaks down for the Blaugrana. Some reshuffling needed at half time.
Adriano has the ball on the left hand side. Xavi wants it to his feet at the top of the box, but the Brazilian instead takes it down the outside of his marker. Unexpected move, but he ruins the deception by hacking a wild shot over the top, to jeers from the home crowd.
Messi and Fabregas both have sights on goal, and both get efforts on target. However, they cannot force Marino out of his comfort zone, as the keeper catches both shots easily. He's been a busy man, Marino, but he hasn't really been seriously tested, save once by Messi.
Barca have kept the opposition penned in their own half for the last five minutes or so. Slow signs of improvement from the visitors, but they're still struggling to create danger as the work rate from Martinez's team is admirable - a common theme throughout the game.
Valadollid pull some gamesmanship on the wall, and after the referee sorts it out, Messi strikes. He gets it up and down over the wall, but it's not close to beating Marino, who positions himself well to catch with no trouble.
Now then, it's Barca's turn to have a great free kick chance on the edge of the opposition box, after Messi is felled in full flight. The Argentine steps up to line up the set piece. He scored a world class free kick against Almeria last weekend, can he repeat the trick?
Just over half an hour gone and Valladolid are supremely comfortable. They hold a deserved lead, thanks to the quick reactions of Rossi and Barca's inability to clear. However, the Blaugrana have taken plenty of points while not being at their best this season, so the hosts will want that second insurance goal at least.
After some delay where the referee was forced to move the encroaching Barca wall back to the correct distance, the goalscorer Rossi takes the shot...but skies it comfortably over the top. He was leaning back all the way and with that body shape, he was never going to hit the target.
Guerra has been a handful all afternoon, and he wins a free kick after some nifty movement forced the foul from Fabregas, right outside the area. Now then, this is an excellent shooting position...
Pique has not been at his best for some time now, but he's been Barca's best player in the opening 25 minutes. For the umpteenth time, he gets a foot in the way of the ball, as Guerra nearly wriggled out of a tight spot inside the area.
Barca are hardly in the best of form, especially with the Clasico coming up in two weeks time. With Real, Barca and Atletico locked in a three way battle at the top of the table, such title six-pointers will definitely determine the course of the championship. At the moment, I wouldn't back Barca at the Bernabeu!
Apart from that excellent shot that nearly opened the scoring, we've seen very little of Lionel Messi in the first half. He's been forced deeper and deeper by the attacking play of the opposition, who are also doing a sterling job pressing immediately after they lose the ball.
Barca are really struggling at the moment with the pace and movement of the home team, who are egged on every step of the way by this raucous crowd. The visitors have even struggled to keep possession as of late!
The home side get just rewards for their enterprising play, as Rossi races onto a loose ball inside the Barca area, reacting quickest to bury a low shot past Valdes! 1-0!
LOOK AT THAT! VALLADOLID LEAD!
The tempo of this game has picked up wonderfully! Credit to the home side for playing their football, and credit to Martinez for fielding this ambitious lineup, which seems to be working so far. This will not be an easy match for Barca!
Valladolid have shown signs of life of their own, however, and Pique, who has had a good start to the game, hacks away a pass ahead of the lurking Rubio, conceding a corner. It's a dangerous delivery as well from the hosts, but Mascherano this time is the man to get there first, clearing away.
The game is starting to pick up now, as Barca begin to utilize Alves and Adriano on the overlap to stretch play in the opposition half. Neymar in particular is moving menacingly off the ball, and he has almost been found by the pair of fullbacks already.
MARINO MAKES A FINE SAVE! Messi was at his resplendent best, sprinting with the ball into the Valladolid half, before letting fly with a delicious curler that the stopper just about managed to get a hand to! Pena was left eating Messi's dust on that play!
Manucho looks dangerous for a second, spinning past Mascherano, only to be denied by Pique and Valdes before he has a chance to pull the trigger. More danger follows for the visitors to deal with, as Pique is forced to intervene to clear away Rubio's free kick.
It's still one way traffic at the moment, with all the action packed in the opposition half. However, the first glimpse at goal falls to the home side on the counter, as Guerra takes a snap shot with the defence out of position, but it's easy pickings for Valdes.
Fervent atmosphere as expected to start the game inside the Municipal. Barca as you would expect are holding onto the ball, making the home side do most of the running in the early exchanges. Still generally cautious stuff out on the pitch.
The formalities are out of the way and the match kicks off!
Barca have had Valladolid firmly under their thumb recently, reeling off eight straight wins in the matchup. They won the corresponding fixture 3-1 last season, and also took care of Martinez's men 4-1 in the reverse match earlier in the league.
The Catalans triumphed in 16 of their first 18 games of the season, but since then, four wins in eight has seen the Liga title race expand to three teams. Atletico and Real are, and will be right in the mix, with the latter ruling the roost at the moment with a two point advantage.
With 21 goals conceded, Barca are tied for the best defensive record in the Spanish top flight this campaign. Only 11 of those goals have been let in away from home, which is easily a league best mark. They have a record of eight wins, three draws and three losses away from Camp Nou, which is bettered by only Real Madrid.
Their home record is not as bad as their league position suggests, as they have won three games so far, one shy of their entire league total of victories for the season. It's on their travels where they struggle, as they have taken maximum points only once in 14 tries.
Valladolid have taken maximum points from only one of their last 10 games, though they have drawn four in their last five. Still though, Martinez's team is struggling, entrenched in the relegation zone, three points from a glimpse at safety. They are by far the biggest draw specialists in the league with 11 ties.
With Jordi Alba and Andres Iniesta both M.I.A., it's about as predictable a lineup as you would expect from Gerardo Martino. Pedro and Neymar flank Lionel Messi up top, Fabregas takes Iniesta's spot again in midfield, while Adriano lines up on the left side of defence. Gerard Pique, recovered in time from a calf issue, also takes his place alongside Javier Mascherano at the heart of the back four.
Jeffren is still absent for the home side with a niggling hanstring injury, so Alvaro Rubio is handed a spot in the starting XI. Manucho leads the line for Juan Martinez's team, alongside Javi Guerra, in what looks like an ambitious 4-4-2 against the Catalan giants.
BARCELONA (4-3-3): Valdes; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Adriano; Busquets, Xavi, Fabregas; Pedro, Messi, Neymar.
VALLADOLID (4-4-2): Marino; Rukavina, Rueda, Mitrovic, Pena; Valiente, Rossi, Alvaro Rubio, Bergdich; Guerra, Manucho.
Hello and welcome to another round of Liga action, as title chasers Barcelona visit relegation-battling Valladolid. I'm Keeghann Sinanan, your guide for all the action.
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