Over the years, Barcelona’s defensive woes have been spoken about regularly, with fans and journalists alike commenting on the need for the Catalans to purchase an experienced centre back. However, judging on their latest performance, a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Real Valladolid, there is much more to Barcelona’s demise than just a faltering back line.
Last weekend, the race to title swung back into Barcelona’s favour. A comfortable 4-1 win at home against Almeria coupled with a draw in the Madrid derby saw El Blaugrana close the gap on League-leaders Real Madrid to a solitary point.
Having won the last eight encounters between the pair, Barca’s trip to Valladolid’s Estadio Jose Zorrilla was theoretically a guaranteed three points, and would have kept the pressure on Carlo Ancelotti’s men. But Barcelona’s approached the match in tentative fashion, surprising given that Valladolid are one of several relegation candidates.
From the first whistle to the last, Juan Ignacio Martinez’s side kept out an out-of-sorts Barcelona. This was a side that had only won four La Liga matches this season, and only one of their 10 ten.
As per usual, Barca outfit dominated possession. They linked up well throughout the match, produced neat one-twos, tried to hit on the counter and endeavoured to create chances by taking long shots. But there was ineptitude to their play.
Although they kept the ball for long periods, the Catalans failed to breach the Valladolid defence. Antonia Rukavina also put in a valiant display and constantly strived to starve Neymar of the ball, as did left-back Zakaraya, who did well to nullify Pedro. Barca desperately lacked any sort of composure and they only have themselves to blame for the dire state they find themselves in.
On the other hand, Valladolid were ready to pounce from the get go and certainly displayed qualities which should help them in their struggle for survival in Spain’s top tier.
After the match, Busquets appropriately summed up the situation that Barcelona find themselves in: "We did not have the right attitude. We made things very difficult for ourselves," he said. "It's a very tough loss. We're now in a difficult situation in La Liga."
With 11 matches left, it seems that La Liga’s destiny lies in the hands of the two Madrid teams. Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Villarreal still lie ahead and judging on this form, it seems that there is no such thing as a guaranteed win for Barcelona. The title is Los Blancos’ to lose.