15th of February 2019 Author: Johnny Karp
LaLiga leaders Barcelona are desperate to make a return to winning ways following three consecutive draws in all competitions, and Saturday's encounter with Valladolid at Camp Nou looks like a great opportunity. The Blaugrana won the reverse fixture 1-0 in August, the only goal of that match was scored by Ousmane Dembele in the second half. That was some sort of revenge for Barcelona after Valladolid had defeated them 1-0 last season, interrupting a series of eight consecutive wins for the Blaugrana in the direct matches. Barcelona have won their last five home matches against Valladolid, the last time they failed to do that was in 2003, when they got held to a goalless draw.
Barcelona are suffering from a slight victory drought, they have been unable to win any of their last three matches in all competitions and this slump could really hurt their title bid if it continues. The first of those three draws was the 2-2 at home against Valencia, in which Barca fought back from 2-0 down. Then they drew 1-1 against Real Madrid in the first leg of the Spanish Cup semi-finals, and last weekend they were unable to get more than a goalless draw at Athletic Bilbao. They are still at the top of the table, but Real Madrid are just six points behind now. Rafinha and Arthur remain injured but Samuel Umtiti has returned to training and might be a substitute in this match. Jordi Alba has served his suspension and will most likely play at left-back.
Valladolid are in great need of points as well, they are just three points above the relegation zone and the battle for survival is expected to be quite fierce this season. Last week they had a serious clash with survival rivals Villarreal and managed to grab a goalless draw, a pretty good result even though it was at home. Before that match they lost 4-0 at last-placed Huesca, marking their second consecutive away defeat but only their fourth away loss of the season. In fact, Valladolid rank seventh in the league table if we consider only the away matches, they have won three so far and recorded five draws. Oscar Plano is suspended for this match, while Pablo Hervias and Luismi are injured.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen - Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba - Vidal, Busquets, Rakitic - Messi, Suarez, Dembele
Valladolid: Masip - Moyano, Olivas, Calero, Nacho - Michel, Fernandez, Alcaraz - Keko, Guardiola, Villa
My prediction: Barcelona to win 3-0, the Blaugrana can't afford any more distractions at this point.
Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:
Barcelona win - 1.14
Draw - 9.00
Valladolid win - 15.00
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