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Real Valladolid 1-0 Barcelona: 6 Things We Learned

Tre' AtkinsonFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2014

Real Valladolid 1-0 Barcelona: 6 Things We Learned

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    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    Barcelona missed a wonderful chance to put pressure on table-leaders Real Madrid as they fell 1-0 to Real Valladolid on Saturday afternoon. It was the fifth time the Catalans have dropped points in 2014.

    After an early goal from Fausto Rossi the Catalans were fighting from behind. They were never able to mount a comeback and in the end they paid the price.

    With a big Champions League meeting against Manchester City on the horizon, La Blaugrana may have been distracted. However, the Catalans could not afford to drop anymore points and will be playing catch-up for a while now.

    In this article we will take a look at six things we learned from the disappointing performance. It's time for a wake-up call.

     

    * All statistics are courtesy of WhoScored.com

Defensive Problems Strike Again

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    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    Barcelona's defense has been hit or miss this season. At times it seems as though the back line has figured everything out and are ready to face any rival. At other times, it looks as though they can't do anything right.

    Against Real Valladolid, defensive complacency cost the Catalans more valuable points.

    There was a lot of confusion in the box before Fausto Rossi opened up the scoring. The ball was bouncing around and it was difficult to see where it was. But when the ball fell to Rossi, the entire defense froze and stared as he shot.

    Yes, it is hard to blame the defense extensively when there was confusion in the box. But at the same time, the Catalans had to do better at limiting chances. The fact that players like Gerard Pique just froze and watched was bad.

    Throughout the rest of the game, the defense performed quite well. They limited more chances from happening, but sometimes one mistake can cost you everything.

Real Valladolid Fans Have a Lot to Celebrate About

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    For Real Valladolid, this was more than just a huge victory against Barcelona. In fact, this victory could prove to be the deciding factor that keeps them out of relegation.

    As the table stands now, Valladolid sit one spot off the relegation zone level on points with Almeria. Almeria will face Sevilla on Sunday and are not favorites to get a result.

    The victory over Barcelona has kept them out of the bottom of the table and will definitely give them confidence going forward. The fans now have a big win to hang their hats on and hold onto when things get tough. In the end, Valladolid have a building block to get them through the rest of the season.

    Relegation battles are always tough, but Real Valladolid just sent a message that they will not be going down without a fight.

Tata Martino's Tactics Prove Questionable Again

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    Martino took a lot of the blame for fielding an odd lineup in Barcelona's recent 3-1 loss to Real Sociedad. The manager opted to rest far too many stars and even played Sergio Busquets and Alex Song together.

    It was odd to see Barcelona playing with so many important players out of the lineup. It was clear that Martino wanted to continue using his rotational policy, but it absolutely did not work.

    Fast-forward to Saturday's loss and it looks like the very opposite thing has cost the Catalans.

    In a game where Barcelona needed to rest stars in preparation for Manchester City, Martino elected to put arguably his very best lineup on the field. In truth, he went from rotating too much, to not rotating at all.

    The decisions being made by Martino are starting to get even more curious. Barcelona are in a tough place right now and cannot afford to be done in by bad decisions. Something has to change for La Blaugrana.

Everything Rests on El Clasico

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    Assuming that Real Madrid win their match later this weekend, Barcelona are now four points off the top of the table. It may not seem like much, but in the La Liga race that is tough to overcome.

    It is highly unlikely that Los Blancos will drop four more points than Barcelona in the last 12 games of the season, meaning everything will rest on the El Clasico meeting later this month.

    In theory, the league is far from decided. Anything can happen and you can never count out the Catalan giants. 

    Yet in truth, El Clasico is a must-win for La Blaugrana. If Barcelona happen to drop points in their meeting with Real Madrid, the title race may be all but over for the Catalans.

    For now, being four points behind is both manageable and very difficult to overcome. In two weekends Barcelona will be traveling to the Santiago Bernabeu, and it is there that their title hopes could be decided.

    Win at the Bernabeu and the race is closer than ever; lose and it could be all over.

Something Isn't Right About Barcelona

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    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    Looking back at the loss to Real Valladolid, something stands out above everything else. There was something off, something not right about this Barcelona side.

    For the most part, the players seemed totally uninterested in what was going on. Players were walking, making bad passes and the passion and urgency was relatively non-existent.

    It is hard to pinpoint issues just based on what we see on the pitch. But it was very clear that the energy and motivation that Barcelona usually play with was absent.

    Yes, they were still wearing the Blaugrana shirts and playing their attractive pass-and-move style, but this wasn't Barcelona. This isn't the first time the players have looked uninterested in a match this year.

    Something just doesn't seem right about Barcelona right now. To drop points five times in just over two months is bad, but to perform like this is just odd.

Tata Martino Out?

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    Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

    Ever since last December there have been rumors suggesting that Martino won't be in charge of Barcelona next season. The thoughts seemed premature at the time, but they may be spot on.

    It is clear that Barcelona have underperformed in 2014 and are starting to fall off the pace in the La Liga title race. They are still alive and well in the Champions League and Copa del Rey, but trophies are not guaranteed.

    Anytime something goes wrong it is always Martino who catches the bulk of the blame. The new manager's policies and decisions have somewhat changed Barcelona over the season and he could see the door because of it.

    In a recent report from SkySports.com, it was mentioned that there are still doubts over Martino's future with the Catalan club. One thing is certain: Martino is one of the problems.

    If Barcelona do not win either the La Liga title or the UEFA Champions League, Martino could certainly be on the way out. Barcelona want to be challenging for several trophies every year and this job may just be a bit too much for the Argentine boss.

    I for one never think it is a good idea to get rid of a manager after a single season, but, at the same time it is obvious that the club is not playing their best over the last few months.

     

    What did you take away from Barcelona's loss? Can the Catalans still win La Liga? Will Martino be sacked? Leave your thoughts and comments below!

     

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