A goal from Ousmane Dembélé, in the 90th minute, undid the mess that Barcelona got into against Valladolid and achieved a victory that places Ronald Koeman’s team one point behind Atlético de Madrid, which is the leader of LaLiga .
It was an agonizing triumph against a rival who played from minute 79 with ten players due to the expulsion of Plano, but beyond that it reinforces the morale of the Catalans, who needed to win, but did not play well against an opponent with trade, that resisted until Dembélé caught a ball and spliced the net when the party died.
It is the nineteenth consecutive game for the Catalans without losing, a team that has achieved 40 of the last 42 points and that has traced 12 points to Atlético de Madrid. That is why Barcelona now depends on itself to win the championship, and next Saturday in Valdebebas, against Real Madrid, it has another good chance to continue believing.
But it was not easy. Koeman’s team choked on Sergio González’s approach. Barça could not spread out on the wings, did not dominate the game, did not find spaces and did not come out of the funnel that the Valladolid players proposed.
The Catalans felt uncomfortable, who came out with everything, also with Messi and de Jong, warned of a penalty a few days before the Clásico at the Bernabeu, but with football without answers.
On the other hand, Valladolid, who had not won at the Camp Nou since 1997, arrived with twelve casualties, but with very clear ideas. In fact, the first half was for the white-violet from the first occasion, a shot from Kodro to the crossbar in the 9th minute, to two good arrivals by Roque Mesa, one in the 24th and the other in the 25th.
Valladolid entangled Barça in the central web and the Catalans had no spaces and gave 45 minutes to the rival. Dembélé was not differential and neither Dest nor Alba could be projected on the bands.
Sergio González’s men, beyond creating danger, had the game where it suited them, although after half an hour, the Catalans reacted timidly.
De Jong became more embedded in the stocking; Dembelé looked more for the back of the centrals and Barcelona had a couple of good chances. In the first Messi met the body of a defender after the French drop (min. 40), in the second, Pedri finished off Masip’s goal post (min. 46), in the best occasion of the Catalans in the first time.
Koeman reacted and started his team in the second half with a 4-3-3, instead of the 3-4-3 at the beginning and everything flowed more. Barça recovered faster, arrived easier and Valladolid no longer seemed to have so many resources to stand up, until Lucas Olaza finished off the side of the net and the thunder box was opened (min. 57).
Barça had a double chance with Dembélé and Griezmann (min. 59), Valladolid claimed a penalty by Alba’s hand (min. 63) and Koeman changed the drawing again with the entry of Braithwaite, Araujo and Trincao (min. 63 ).
The Barça siege was on the rise in the last quarter of an hour of the game. Ten from the end, Valladolid was left with ten for the expulsion of Óscar Plano and the game was a monologue for Barcelona until the end.
In 1990, Dembélé, the controversial Frenchman, saved his team. He caught a ball that Araujo touched and spliced to Masip’s short post. It was 1-0, the victory, the lead at one point, a victory to dream about and continue to expect strong emotions from a team that seemed unhinged and now depends on itself to get the double.