The game’s only goal came from Italian Fausto Rossi and was the Catalan’s first defeat to Valladolid since 2002.
At first glance there is cause for concern as Martino fielded a strong team with Messi, Neymar and Pedro forming an attacking duo. Cesc, Busquets and Xavi made up a strong midfield and Piqué was surrounded by Alves, Adriano and Mascherano with victor Valdés keeping goal. It wasn’t enough however and questions will now be asked about the below par performance of the team.
It appeared that Brazilian Neymar left all his shooting power back in South Africa where he played an international friendly in mid-week with Brazil.
From the get go, Valladolid put pressure on the Catalan giants, much like Real Sociedad in their 3-1 win at Anoeta just two weeks ago. Messi could have found the net just after nine minutes of play but then Valladolid turned the tables and monopolised the play with Rossi putting his team ahead after just 17 minutes.
As the first half was drawing to a close, Barcelona found their way back into the match and tested Diego Mariño a couple of times, who had no trouble in stopping the shots. Valladolid did their homework on Saturday and caused all sorts of problems for Martino’s men.
Neymar left his scoring boots in South Africa when he shot over the goal in the 57th minute. Messi edged on a Fàbregas pass to the ex Santos player who was unable to keep the ball low, firing high over the goal.
Martino took Fàbregas off and replaced him with Alexis Sánchez with 30 minutes remaining on the clock. Messi was then able to drop back a bit deeper and took up a roaming midfielder’s role. Sergi Roberto then replaced Gerard Piqué and a dismal Neymar made way for Cristian Tello with 20 minutes to go in a bid for at least an equaliser.
It all got a bit frantic as Barcelona sensed the clock was ticking down and there were no goals forthcoming. Messi had a late chance when he fired in a free kick in the 83rd minute, which was plucked out by a solid Mariño.
Valladolid kept their heads and cool to snatch a vital win for themselves and move up to 17th position in La Liga table. The Catalan giants now look to regroup as they think ahead to next Wednesday’s second leg tie against Man City in the Champions League at the Camp Nou.
Fausto Rossi goal