La Liga Champions Barcelona will take on relegation-threatened Real Valladolid as the clock ticks on for the hosts, who remain on the brink.

There are three games left in this La Liga season. Although Barcelona wrapped up the title, there are still other races to be run, and one of them is the impending relegation battle, where Real Valladolid currently languishes.

Valladolid are in 18th place, with Getafe slightly above them on goal difference, with the two teams level on points. In April, Paulo Pezzolano’s men seemed destined to fight off relegation with a string of results going in their favour.

Back then, they picked up seven points from their three games against Mallorca, Villarreal and Girona but have since lost each of their last five games. However, while they are expected to lose against Champions Barcelona, they might still have the chance to stay up as they face Almeria and Getafe in the final two games.

Xavi Hernandez will have been pleased to wrap up the title with four games remaining. Their away win over local rivals Espanyol sealed the title for Barcelona. Hence the defeat to Real Sociedad did not matter for the Catalans, although it did matter much for their opponents.

Mikel Merino and Alexander Sorloth were on the scoresheet, while Robert Lewandowski’s strike was only a mere consolation. With two games remaining on their calendar against Mallorca and Celta Vigo, Barcelona will hope to finish with nine points from those clashes, starting with Valladolid.

The Blaugrana are the best away side in the division this season, with 40 points from 17 games. Barcelona could still improve on this record, but it won’t matter much for Xavi. Fans will eagerly await to see what the club pans for the summer as they aim to become a European Superpower again.

Team News & Tactics

Real Valladolid

Real Valladolid will miss Luis Perez, Selim Amallah and Anuar Tuhami. The trio has been important for Paulo Pezzolano’s side, who are bidding to fight off relegation.

Pezzolano may not make wholesale changes from the Cadiz defeat, but only necessary ones. Hence, Alvaro Aguado and Lucas Olaza could come into the starting lineup. There could also be a place for Gonzalo Plata, which may see a slight change in formation.

Joaquin Fernandez, Javi Sanchez and Jawad El Yamiq will form the back three for Valladolid. Lucas Rosa and Lucas Olaza are likely to retain the wing-back positions. Sandwiched between the wide duo are central midfielders Monchu and Aguado.

Plata will start from the right-hand side of the attack, with Sergio Leon taking up the left-hand berth. Cyle Larin will lead the line for Valladolid, hoping to trouble the Barcelona defence.

Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Masip; Fernandez, Sanchez, El Yamiq; Rosa, Monchu, Aguado, Olaza; Plata, Larin, Leon

Barcelona

Xavi will likely have a full squad at his disposal, with midfielder Gavi set to return to the squad. He missed out against Real Sociedad through suspension and should come straight back into the starting eleven against Valladolid.

Pedri and Ronald Araujo were also absent from the Real Sociedad clash with minor muscular problems. They have not made it into the matchday squad against Valladolid. Hence, Xavi could retain the same backline, with Jules Kounde starting alongside Andreas Christensen, while Alejandro Balde keeping his place at right back. Meanwhile, Frenkie de Jong should keep his place in midfield, although Gavi mighr replace Franck Kessie

Ousmane Dembele, only recently back, having fully recovered from a hamstring problem, could make his second successive start for Barcelona. Whether Xavi looks to select one of Ansu Fati or Ferran Torres remains the question. If he does, one of those could start in the final third; if not, Raphinha remains the obvious choice in the wide position.

Raphinha’s presence would allow Dembele to start from the left. Robert Lewandowski will continue to lead the line for Barcelona. Sergio Busquets will sit at the base of midfield, with Gavi and Pedri on either side. Overall, Xavi will line up a strong side to face Valladolid as he eyes a good finish to this stellar season.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): ter Stegen; Balde, Kounde, Christensen, Alba; Gavi, Busquets, de Jong; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Dembele

Key Stats

  • Real Valladolid have lost each of their last five La Liga matches.
  • Real Valladolid has the fourth-worst home record in La Liga this season, picking up 24 points from their 17 games.
  • Real Valladolid have lost each of their last 6 La Liga games against Barcelona.
  • Barcelona have the best away record in the division, having collected 40 points from 17 games so far this season.
  • Barcelona have won four of their last six La Liga games.

Player to Watch

Ousmane Dembele

The Frenchman has proven his worth but remains an underrated talent owing to his persistent injury problems. More than showing what he can do on the pitch, it is imperative for Dembele to show he can remain on the pitch for many games together.

Dembele will obviously prove a threat to the Valladolid defence, but Xavi will keep a keen eye on his fitness. It’s up to the Frenchman to show he can maintain his levels and become a reliable part of the manager’s plans. With three games to go, he has plenty of time to prove that.

Prediction

Real Valladolid 1-3 Barcelona

Barcelona may have won the La Liga title with four games to spare, but they have not dominated in many games this season. There have been many 1-0’s during this run and obvious defensive and attacking issues. Yet, they will find it easy going against a Valladolid side coming into this clash under tremendous pressure to stay up.

Barcelona have nothing to lose or gain from this fixture, which could allow Xavi to take the handbrake off. The Catalans are expected to ramp through and get the goals against this struggling Valladolid side. The home side may have to rely on their last two games of the season to ensure they stay up, as they may have no chance against the La Liga champions.

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