Barcelona suffered a shocking 1-0 defeat at Valladolid on Saturday that may have big implications for the club’s La Liga title challenge—although the manner of the performance might be of equal concern to those involved with the club.
Fausto Rossi’s 17th-minute goal will likely only increase the recent grumblings about head coach Gerardo Martino and whether the Catalan giants have lost their edge after years of success.
Assuming Real Madrid win their game in hand later in the weekend, Barcelona will now be four points behind their archrivals in the table, with a Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu scheduled for the end of March.
That is not to take anything away from Valladolid, however, as they grabbed their first win over Barcelona since 2002—and their first points against them since 2007.
Afterwards, Martino told the club's official website:
The team lacked ideas but not intensity. We completely failed in generating play and that’s what stopped us from getting the result.
We lacked what makes us Barça: good elaboration in our build-up, finding spaces, breaking through on the wings and having depth. But we didn’t lack attitude.
It was Rossi who ensured those historic achievements, although in truth it was a somewhat scrappy goal. After a quick counter-attacking move, twice the ball ricocheted around in the Barcelona box.
The second of those deflections saw the ball fall perfectly to Rossi, who wrong-footed Victor Valdes with a clever shot to beat the goalkeeper at his near post.
After that relatively early setback, it was not as if Barcelona struggled for opportunities to restore parity and even go on and win the match. Yet, despite enjoying 75 percent of possession over the course of the 90 minutes, they seemed to struggle to create clear-cut chances as Valladolid defended manfully.
Lionel Messi missed a couple of half-chances before the break, but Barcelona nevertheless went into half-time behind for the first time in the league all season.
Vallodolid produced just two shots in the entirety of the second half—both of them off target—but that was never going to be the priority, as they focused instead on keeping a clean sheet.
That they managed brilliantly, only really riding their luck shortly after the break as Messi forced a save from Diego Villar from inside the box. Other than that Barcelona looked devoid of real creativity and incision, with Neymar failing to hit the target with about the only other good opening of the half.
Defeat, when it was confirmed, will have only started a fresh round of questions about what is wrong with the players.
Martino and his men get the chance to right matters against Manchester City in the Champions League in midweek, but will surely need to cut out performances like this if they are to make a real impact at the business end of that competition—or their domestic league.
Valladolid, meanwhile, can celebrate climbing out of the relegation zone on goal difference.
"It's an incredible result," said Rossi, via the Associated Press. "All together we can save this team."
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Barcelona face Manchester City in the second leg of their Champions League tie on Wednesday, before hosting Osasuna in their next league engagement at the weekend. Valladolid, meanwhile, next travel to Sevilla.