Valladolid/Barcelona, Spain, Jul 10 (efe-epa).- It is a trip away from home and another crucial match for Barcelona if they want to keep the title race with Real Madrid alive.
The Catalan giants are set to travel to Valladolid for a Saturday LaLiga tie but all eyes will first focus on the result Real Madrid secure at home to Alavés on Friday evening.
Since returning to the pitch following the untimely coronavirus break in Spanish football, Quique Setién’s men have served up a mixed bag, capable of dominating games, like in their 1-4 win away to Villareal, but equally capable of looking lacklustre against even struggling sides, like in their 1-0 win that pushed cross-city rivals Espanyol into the second division.
In fact, the best opportunities in that game seemed to come for Espanyol, who hit the post and forced a save from Marc André ter Stegen.
A positive note for the coach is that it seems he has finally landed a successful formation, a 4-4-2 diamond with Lionel Messi at the top acting as playmaker.
Setién has a number of unavailable players, including Ansu Fati, who was sent off in the last match, and Frenkie de Jong and Umtiti, both out with injury. Arthur Melo, who hasn’t played a minute since he signed for Juventus next season, is out with tonsillitis.
For the first XI, Setién could look to Semedo, Sergi Roberto. Arturo Vidal could replace Ivan Rakitic. Luis Suárez and Antoine Griezmann are poised to lead up the front.
Several Valladolid players are back from injury, including Matheus, Miguel de la Fuente and Pedro Porro. Salisu and Míchel remain sidelined. Óscar Plano could make a return, having served his suspension, which kept him out of the game against Valencia.
Although mathematically not safe just yet, Valladolid have little to lose and little to gain in the encounter, which permits them to take more risks, as they proved against Valencia, when they deserved a point.
Barcelona’s manager warned however that their rivals would have the threat of falling into the relegation zone hanging over them.