Analysing Lionel Messi's Performance from Real Valladolid vs. Barcelona

Gianni VerschuerenFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2014

Barcelona's Lionel Messi from Argentina, left, and Valladolid's defender Jesus Rueda challenge for the ball during a Spanish La Liga soccer match at the Jose Zorrilla stadium in Valladolid, Spain, Saturday March 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Israel L. Murillo)
Israel L. Murillo/Associated Press

Barcelona's dress rehearsal for the upcoming Classico did not go as planned, with the team losing to Real Valladolid on Saturday by a score of 1-0.

The Catalan giants put together a flat performance, and the Twittersphere was not happy about it. Barcelona expert Xoel Cardenas made that very clear:

Often the scapegoat for Barcelona's lesser performances, Lionel Messi was one of the few Blaugrana on the field actually trying, as pointed out by Mr. Cardenas:

But trying isn't enough, as the Argentinian maestro wasted numerous chances in front of goal and was unable to dominate the Valladolid defense like we've grown accustomed to.

According to Whoscored, Messi failed to score a single goal despite taking five shots on goal. A brilliant performance from Diego Marino certainly played a part in the result, but Messi's finishing was off all afternoon, resulting in the terrible conversion rate. Messi 10 Stats shared his best chance at goal:

Messi didn't have any glaring misses, unlike Brazilian teammate Neymar. Messi's attacking partner was perhaps the most disappointing player on the field, as Passion Madridista shares this embarrassing attempt on goal:

Neymar had several good chances at goal, including one from close range in the second half that really should have given Barcelona the equaliser:

Messi completed a solid 87 percent of his passes, but came away with a disappointing 58 touches, per Whoscored. His dribbling also wasn't up to his normal standards, as he completed only three total dribbles while being dispossessed twice.

But as easy as it might be to blame the team's best player for its worst loss of the season, Messi did whatever he could to get Barcelona back into the game. Playing well below his capabilities, the four-time Ballon d'Or winner kept working hard to get himself and his teammates in good positions.

Fans seemed to notice as well:

Fausto Rossi scored the only game of the match, giving relegation-threatened Valladolid its biggest result of the season. But the true hero of the game was Marino, who played the game of his life and frustrated the Catalan attackers with one beautiful save after another.

VALLADOLID, SPAIN - MARCH 08:  Lionel Messi (L) Xavi Hernandez (C) and Neymar  of FC Barcelona react after Real Valladolid CF scored their opening goal during the La Liga match between Real Valladolid CF and FC Barcelona at estadio Nuevo Jose Zorillo on M
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Barcelona's loss gives Real Madrid an opportunity to open up a four-point lead over their hated rivals when they host Levante on Sunday, while Atletico Madrid could pass Barcelona on the table with a win over Celta De Vigo.

The defending Spanish champions will need to recover quickly, as a UEFA Champions League matchup with Manchester City awaits in midweek.