Barcelona boss Valverde criticises pitch conditions at Real Valladolid

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Barcelona stars had to play on newly-laid turf.

Coach Ernesto Valverde has criticised the pitch at Real Valladolid after Barcelona scraped to a 1-0 victory.

The players were seen struggling as the newly laid turf began cutting up during the match at the Estadio Jose Zorrilla, with Valverde saying he had not seen anything like it “for a long time”.

The Barca coach blamed the state of the surface for making it difficult for his players to launch a counter attack and find a second goal.

Quoted on the club’s official website, he said: “Valladolid played with good pressure and they pushed us, but the pitch had a lot to do with it.

“We were more dominant and had opportunities, but we couldn’t score the second goal.

“There was a time when they changed the system and we could’ve made it 0-2 then, but in the last few minutes we did badly.

“These results give us opportunities to win the league, but we feared that there could be some injury, the state of the pitch has conditioned both teams.”

Ousmane Dembele scored the only goal just before the hour in the hard-fought win, but the hosts would not lie down and almost snatched a last-gasp point.

Deep into stoppage time, Keko headed home what he thought was an equaliser but it was eventually ruled out for offside after intervention by the video assistant referee.

Valladolid coach Sergio Gonzalez said after the match he thought his team had deserved to walk away with a draw.

“We were very involved the first 30 minutes, we knew how to suffer, be strong and endure situations of danger to grow and surpass us, making good football and looking for a point that finally did not come and maybe we deserved,” he told the club’s website.

He defended the state of the pitch, saying they had done “everything possible” to have it in the best condition.

“My players are also soccer players, not farmers. Nobody is interested in playing on a lawn that does not meet good conditions,” he said.

The grass “was the same for everyone”, he added, saying the only option was to “adapt” to what was there.

La Liga president Javier Tebas tweeted after the match to say the turf “did not meet the minimum conditions required”, adding that the league planned on opening a disciplinary file.

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Uninspiring Barcelona edge past promoted Real Valladolid

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Barcelona toiled terribly against newly-promoted Real Valladolid, with Ousmane Demebele‘s strike proving to be the difference in this thoroughly uninspiring performance from the reigning La Liga champions.

The hosts, promoted via the Segunda Division’s play-off last season behind champions Rayo Vallecano and Huesca, gave a glimpse of what to expect from them this season as they pushed their illustrious opponents all the way in a courageous performance in which they can count themselves unlucky not to take anything from – with Keko’s injury time header initially given before being ruled out for offside.

Dembele’s goal proved decisive at the Estadio Jose Zorrilla, but it was another erratic performance from the youngster, who was hooked soon after.

Star man Lionel Messi endured one of his rare off nights and, worryingly for coach Ernesto Valverde, none of his teammates looked capable of bearing the creative burden – with Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and Dembele all below their best.

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Ousmane Dembele a match-winner but earns just a 4 in our Barcelona ratings

Matt Jones 26/08/2018
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Barcelona toiled terribly against newly-promoted Real Valladolid, with Ousmane Demebele‘s strike proving to be the difference in this thoroughly uninspiring performance from the reigning La Liga champions.

The hosts, promoted via the Segunda Division’s play-off last season behind champions Rayo Vallecano and Huesca, gave a glimpse of what to expect from them this season as they pushed their illustrious opponents all the way in a courageous performance in which they can count themselves unlucky not to take anything from – with Keko’s injury time header initially given before being ruled out for offside.

Dembele’s goal proved decisive at the Estadio Jose Zorrilla, but it was another erratic performance from the youngster, who was hooked soon after.

Here we rate the Barcelona players’ performances.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen – 6: Coped well with what came his way. Might have been picking the ball out of his net had Valladolid been more clinical.

Sergi Roberto – 7: Did brilliantly to divert Suarez’s hopeful cross into the path of Dembele. Generally lively up and down the right flank. Three tackles and three interceptions were both team highs.

Samuel Umtiti – 7: Stayed firm as the plucky hosts gave it their all and had Barca on the ropes. Excellently cut out one dangerous low cross.

Gerard Pique – 5: Out of position on a couple of occasions. Looked shaky. Horribly caught out for Valladolid’s ultimately disallowed goal. Won a team high five aerial duels.

Jordi Alba – 6: Isn’t that used to playing back towards his own goal but was diligent defensively; clearing header to deny Keko was vital. Although he slipped minutes later to allow him another, a chance Alba thankfully saw him waste.

Philippe Coutinho – 5: Two key passes led Barca as he looked to help Messi shoulder the creative burden. Was well marshaled by the home defence for the most part though.

Ivan Rakitic – 5: Not one of the crafty Croat’s best nights. The pitch didn’t help but his low cross that was nowhere near Suarez in the first half summed up his night, as did a handball.

Sergio Busquets – 7: Was one of the few visiting players to emerge with any credit, fouled five times as Valladolid looked to obviously disrupt Barca’s possession-based game.

Lionel Messi – 4: He’s the best player on the planet but when he’s not on top of his game – as he ever so occasionally is, like here – it’s important someone else in Blaugrana colours steps up. The fact no-one really did will be a worry for Valverde.

Luis Suarez – 5: He set up the first goal but it owed more to Roberto’s perseverance as opposed to any skill from the Uruguayan who did nothing more than to hit a hopeful, wayward cross into the box. Saw a second chalked off.

Ousmane Dembele – 4: It was turning into one of those error-strewn, frustrating performances for the talented young French winger, before he connected sweetly with Roberto’s cute header. Pass percentage completion of 67.7 per cent was dreadful.

SUBS:

Arturo Vidal N/A: Brought on for the goalscorer to try and beef up Barca’s midfield.

Malcom N/A: Brought on late for Coutinho, could have won it but effort was saved superbly down low by Jordi Masip.

Munir El Haddadi N/A: Brought on late for Suarez to run down the clock.

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