Barcelona continued their pursuit of three trophies with a 1-0 win over Real Valladolid, thanks to a sublime goal by Samuel Eto’o, his 26th of the season.
The Catalan’s, having lost three out of four matches following FIFA World Cup and international breaks this season, knew they could not afford to drop points and with this in mind Pep Guardiola rotated his squad leaving Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry and Dani Alves to start on the bench, while Pedro was handed a place in the first eleven. As expected it was Barcelona who dominated the early stages but they were struggling to produce the flowing football they are renowned for, and instead the game was more of a physical battle. The first chance of the match came on 11 minutes with Pedro forcing Asenjo into a fine save from a tight angle on the right. There were further chances for Barca, with Iniesta on 18 minutes and Eto’o on 23 minutes both going close.
Barca gradually started to take control and were starting to produce more and more convincing attacks. Xavi came close in the 34th minute, but his strike from an Eto’o assist was too high. In the 40th minute it was the same two players involved, but this time Eto’o was sent clear in the box after playing a one-two with Xavi, before he executed a sublime lob over the helpless Asenjo, to give Barca a crucial lead. Asenjo was called into action almost immediately after the goal when he produced a good save from Iniesta.
Valladolid started the second half with an attacking formation and on 54 minutes, a flowing move ended in a shot from Aguirre from the edge of the box, but it was a disappointing end to an exciting sequence of play. Minutes later, Escudero nearly scored one of the goals of the season, beating four players while cutting in from the right, but Valdes managed to parry his shot. The home side were causing Barca problems and Guardiola decided to make changes, bringing on Alves and Messi for Sylvinho and Pedro. Valladolid continued to attack and Goitom was inches away from heading them level, only for Daniel Alves to get ahead of him at the last second and head behind.
On 75 minutes Andres Iniesta was sent clear but his effort past the advancing Asenjo went just the wrong side of the post. Daniel Alves forced Asenjo to save well with a powerful shot, which almost ended up in the net after rebounding of Eto’o.
As the match drew to a close the effects of the midweek internationals began to show on the Barcelona players and Valladolid spent most of the closing stages in Barca’s half, but lacked the killer instinct to score the equalizing goal.
Pep Guardiola praised Valladolid after the match saying ” Valladolid have been the only team in the league who have had the bravery to actually attack us and the response from my players was very good.”
Full Time: Real Valladolid 0 Barcelona 1(Eto’o 40)
Yellow Cards: Aguirre 20
Real Valladolid: Asenjo Andres Sergio, Munoz Pedro Lopez, Luis Prieto (Javier Vegas Baraja, 67), Jauregi Inaki Bea, Alberto Marcos, Marcos Sebastian Aguirre (Bartholomew Ogbeche, 57), Rubio Robles Alvaro, Fabian Bentaberry Canobbio, Fernandez Borja, Jonathan Gonzalez Sesma (Damian Escudero, 49), Henok Goitom
FC Barcelona: Victor Valdes, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Rafael Marquez, Silvio Sylvinho (Daniel Alves, 59), Sergi Busquets, Xavier Hernandez Xavi, Seydou Keita, Pedro Rodriguez Pedrito (Lionel Messi, 59), Samuel Eto’o, Andres Iniesta (Eidur Gudjohnsen, 90)
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