Saturday, 4 April 2009

Preview : Valladolid

Venue : Estadio José Zorrilla, Valladolid

Generally, this season Barḉa have had a good time of it against the mid-table clubs with the exception of Getafe. A majority of the big wins (by 3 goals or more) have come against the clubs currently occupying the mid-table positions. As was evident against Almeria, Barḉa’s biggest advantage going into the game against Valladolid (who sit at 9th in the table currently) at the Estadio Jose Zorrilla is the fear psyche built up by the 6-0 thrashing we gave them in the first leg. This will hopefully play on Valladolid’s mind and keep them from being too adventurous, even at home.

Valladolid is one of those teams which generally play with a high defence. While they enjoy some success with the other top teams with such an approach they have lacked the quality to retain sufficient possession to make this strategy effective against Barḉa. Critical to breaking down such a team is Barca’s ability to harass their midfield and regain possession early thus subjugating their attacking initiative and demoralising the midfield.

Of 9+1 (Bojan for the under 21) Barca players called up, all except Busquets played the entire 90 mins for their respective national teams. Added to this, injuries to other key players means that Pep Guardiola has some difficult choices to make for this game. Iniesta and Puyol have suffered from the recurrence of old injuries after having been rushed back into the side from layoffs. Therefore, as we approach the most critical part of the season Guardiola will be wary of the same happening again. Yet, these are the freshest players available, having not had to undergo the rigours of 2 international games, the last being just 3 days before this one.

Often, the difficulties that arise after international matches may not entirely be caused by fatigue. For a team reliant on the synchronous movement of players on and off the ball such as Barca, problems arise in regaining that cohesion and telepathic understanding between players who have had to adjust midweek to a different team, different set-up and different players.

Valladolid coach Jose Luis Mendilibar, is one of those few coaches in La Liga who have been given a long run at the helm of a club. This has helped him build a squad which produced a strong performance to get itself promoted in 2006-07 and stay in the Primera Division at the end of last season. Not overly reliant on a counterattacking game, Mendilibar’s side often display good passing and movement using runners from midfield to threaten the opposition goal. While Barca should be able to handle their midfield with ease it is the other key-aspect of their game: scoring from set-pieces that is likely to give us problems. A disciplined side, Valladolid do not allow too much space between their midfield and defence. The best way to hit them early would therefore be by playing the Henry-style of game with the early through pass from defence or deep midfield releasing Etoó or Henry to run on goal.

In terms of scalps Valladolid have Sevilla, Villareal and Real Madrid to their name although all three of these are from the first half of the season. Their home form has been reasonably good with 8 out of 12 wins overall, coming at home. They can claim to have had a decent March with 3 wins coming before the loss to Sevilla in the last game. Their offense to defence record is interesting. Take aside the 6-0 thrashing by Barca and Valladolid have lost by 3 goals on one occasion (against Sevilla in the last game), by 2 goals thrice; with the remaining 8 losses coming by a 1 goal margin and thus have a goal difference of only -4 (42 scored against 46 conceded). Generally though, their games have tended towards the high scoring side with an overall 64% of their matches ending up with more than 2.5 goals per game.

Relying more on a team effort rather than the individual ability of any particular player Valladolid nevertheless are powered by the energetic performances of Sesma(6 goals) and the set-piece delivery of Pedro Leon. To back them up, is Goitom weighing in with 9 goals this season. Sesma will be the key player to watch as he attempts to make use of space on Barca’s right flank opened up by the forward movement of either Alves or Puyol.

Pep will have a difficult balancing act with this game’s selection resting jet-lagged players returning from long trips for the international games and breaking those returning from injury as gently as possible into the squad. Puyol might get the start since Dani Alves is returning from Brazil and Sesma will be difficult to handle if he is left unmarked. The fragile Don Andres Iniesta will probably be reserved for a subs appearance to lessen the likelihood of a fresh injury before the Bayern game. Messi similarly could be replaced by Bojan although it would nice to see Pedro get a game again after a long period out of the first team.

Valladolid Expected Line-up 4-5-1: Villar, Pedro Lopez, Preito, Bea, Marcos, Pedro Leon, Borja/Vivar D., Cannobio/Victor, Alvaro, Sesma, Goitom

Barca Line-up (My guess is as good as Yours) 4-3-3 : Victor Valdes, Puyol, Marquez, Pique, Sylvinho, Xavi, Busquets, Gudjohnsen, Pedro, Etoó, Henry

Etoó was the star of the massacre at the Nou Camp slamming in 4 goals but he might find chances to score more infrequent this time as Guardiola will look for a compact energy-saving performance away from home. The defence will be severely tested at set-pieces by the excellent delivery of Pedro Leon and it would a great confidence booster if they can hold good once again before the Champions League resumes on Wednesday.

Prediction : Valladolid 0 – 2 Barcelona

kamikaze kontiki


Kiki said...

I think Pedro Leon is suspended!

kamikaze kontiki said...

Thats true, I just noticed, 5 yellow cards. Good for us ;)

Harshawardhan said...

hey guys.. is there some issue with the telecasting?
sky sports wont be telecasting this match is wative heard..

MohamedH said...

Bayern just got their ass wooped by wolfsburg... 5-1!!!!

Let's hope our players can do the same!!!

semko said...

last goal by grafite was messi style!

nozbleed said...

Good news guys, Wolfsburg thrashed Bayern 5-1, with Ribery played the whole game. Really a big lost to Bayern. Wolfsburg even subbed their goalie!! Hope this will bring their morale down for the next game against us!! And I hope we win today's game too! Visca el Barca!!

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