Valverde's men overcame a stubborn Valladolid side and a terrible pitch thanks to a Dembélé goal.
Valladolid vs Barcelona: match report
Barcelona pick up their second three points in matchday 2 of LaLiga 2018/19 against a hard-working Valladolid side that almost snatched a point at the death. As it was, a strike from Ousmane Dembele was the difference, although a terrible pitch also made its mark.
An enjoyable first half came to an end with no goals but several chances created. Barça controlled most of the play, but the clear tactic from González' side was to steal the ball in key areas and break at speed. They did that well for the first 30 minutes before having to turn in a backs-to-the-wall performance for the final stages.
The second half saw the hosts push on and press further up the park as Rakitic, Countinho and Busquets aimed to take some of the edge out of the game. And it was an even encounter when the French winger grabbed the goal that would eventually decide the match. A long, cross-field pass from Jordi Alba was met by Barça's other flying full-back, Sergi Roberto, and his header was guided nicely into the path of Dembele who volleyed home past Masip.
That goal gave the blaugrana more reason to slow the pace of the game down. But as they did so, the ever-more-optimistic blue and white shirts pushed on further. Chances were coming for the home team and crosses from the left were proving most productive. As the clock ticked down to the third minute of added time, a whipped cross from inside the penalty area was met by a clean header from Keko. Cue wild celebrations...until the official paused, listened to the voice in his ear-piece, and awarded a free-kick to Barça for offside.
It was the correct decision, of course, but one that showed how close the title-favourites were to dropping points early in the season. González will be be proud of his side's valiant efforts against the much-lauded opposition; Valverde will know that the machine is still needing to crank up a level.
And we've not heard the final word about the state of the pitch...
Valladolid vs Barcelona: how it happened
Thanks for your company and we'll be back on Sunday evening for Girona vs Real Madrid. Hope you can join us...
Another three points for the champions but, just as the opening fixture at the Camp Nou, that was far from a convincing performance. Valladolid will be disappointed not to have something to show for their efforts.
90'+3' Full-time VAL 0-1 BCN And that's that! Barça had their chances, had much of the ball, but in the end had to ride their luck in the final stages.
90'+3' Correction! 0-1 The goal is referred to VAR officials who confirm in the ref's ear that Keko was offside. Phew from Valverde and co.
90'+3' 1-1 GOAL!! What a finish. Another ball in from the right after neat exchanges and it's headed home
90'+1' More joy down the right for Valladolid but it's closed down before any danger comes.
90' Three added minutes for Barça to see out
89' Chance! Malcom skips free of the home defence and pulls the trigger as the angle closes. It's crisp and low but a strong hand from Masip blocks and gathers.
88' This could prove to be a nervy ending for the champions as their hosts push and press higher up the pitch.
86' Daniele Verde comes on for Villa in the final roll of the dice from González
84' Coutinho off, Malcom on
85' Barça pass their way out of defence across the bumpy surface as Sunday league players around the globe unsypathetically say, 'see what we have to deal with!'
82' GOAL!!! Messi to Suárez who slots home...Nope! Ignore me. There's a late offside call. As you were.
80' It's all Valladolid at the moment and a few passes in and on the edge of the Barça box are accompanied with shouts of 'shoot' from the stands. The move ends with a corner which is defended well.
77' Great chance! A wondeful delivery again from the left lands on the head of the unmarked Cop. He could have put it either side of Ter Stegen for an equaliser but chooses to go straight at the keeper. The crowd are feeding off this effort.
75' Vidal comes on and it's goal-scorer Dembele to make way.
73' A couple more chances come the way of the hosts, the latter of which is a dangerous cross into the area cleared by a strong head of Umtiti.
73' Duje Cop comes on for Unal.
70' Oscar Plano tries his luck as the home side gain more territory. The shot flies wide but the blue and white fans are increasing the noise as their players step up their game.
70' Looks as though Arturo Vidal may be making an appearance soon.
68' Despite the highlights reel almost certainly focusing on the goal for Dembele, the French winger should be forced to watch all the clips of his mistakes. Poor passing, badly-timed runs, too slow in possession... He must do better at the level he is supposed to be functioning. Another example there of what can only be described as dithering.
Change for the home side: Keko comes on for Borja
65' Lionel Messi decides he wants to finish this game by himself and jinks in and out of a few players until he reaches the edge of the area. A perfectly timed foot from Fernando Calero prevents the trigger being pulled.
64' The last few minutes have suggested that the possession map will change come the final whistle, as Valladolid push on more and Barça allow them to.
How the flow of the game has gone so far...
62' Barça try to take some more of the pace out of the game - the home fans won't allow their side's heads to drop - and are happy not to push for a second by taking risks.
59' Free-kick to Valladolid who look to get something back quickly. Piqué doing the knocking over and seeing yellow. It's wide on the left and the delivery is floated into the mass of bodies. Headed clear and away.
57' 0-1 GOAL!!! Dembele with the final strike, on the volley, after a Jordi Alba deep cross was met by right on the touchline by Sergi Roberto. His head back was finished well, although questions will be asked about the marking.
55' That sustained pressure from Barça at the end of the first half has not resurfaced as yet. Both sides giving as good as each other.
52' Another example there of the pitch taking its toll. Busquets being turned in the centre of the field and the Barça man can't track his man as his foot appears to get partially stuck. A disapproving glance down to the grass suggests his mood.
50' A long cross-field ball from Moyano is intercepted by Jordi Alba who releases Luis Suárez down the right. He's lost a yard or two of pace and is closed down and cancelled out easily enough.
48' Unal the first into the ref's notebook. A little harsh as Busquets' passing follow-through is caught.
47' First chance of the second half comes after some slack play by the Barça backline and nimble footwork from Unal. The final shot needed more curl to bother the Barça stopper.
46' Immediately the hosts go direct but the ball over the top runs on to Ter Stegen.
Valladolid kick off
OK, the teams are out and we're about to get things going again.
One thing that has to be mentioned again is the state of the newly-lain pitch. It certainly looks awful, and may explain some of the errors we've seen from highly talented players.
Barça have worked themselves into very promising positions - passing classes from Coutinho and Messi helping - but wayward shooting and poor final balls, along with enthusiastic defending, has the game nicely poised for the second half.
And whether a case of tiredness or, more likely, Barça getting the better of the press with sharper passing and moving, the final quarter of an hour was a stern defensive test for Valladolid. A test they have, at least till now, passed.
For around 30 minutes, this pressing and breaking gave the hosts a handful of decent chances to test Ter Stegen. Poor decision making when it counted, however, will have frustrated the manager.
From the off, the plan from Sergio González was clear: close Barça down in our own half, force them to play in tight situations, win the ball back from the mistakes created, and hit on the counter. And it worked on the whole...
45' Half-time 0-0 | That ball from Messi that flew way over is the last action of the first half. A few thoughts coming up as the players suck on a peice of fruit and get some tips from their coaches.
44' Another free kick for Barça, this time well away from the area but allowing Messi to deliver into the mixer. Oh, erm. Let's blame the turf!
42' Free-kick in Messi territory, centre of goal and around 22 yards out. The number 10 steps up and... actually, the less said about that one, the better.
40' Yet another ball crossed into the back post for Barça and Messi this time is the recipient. It's just too far in front of his stretching head so the Argentine sticks out an arm to control it. No yellow card from Ricardo De Burgos Bengoetxea, ignoring the loud claims from the home players who seem to be suggesting 'had it been anyone else...'
36' The pressure is building and building on the home defence. A period of sustained play from Barça in and around the penalty area has virtually the whole Valladolid team valiantly blocking and intercepting in an attempt not to fall behind before half-time. The best of the efforts was a typical Coutinho curler - low this time - towards the far right post which was turned behind by the diving Masip.
33' More delicious passing, this time from Coutinho. Using the outside of his right boot he guides the ball into the path of the scampering Suárez but Masip is quick out to block the effort. Enjoyable game this!
31' Chance! Delightful first-touch volley from Messi plays in Dembele and the Frenchman tries to find Suárez across goal. It's not the neatest of passes and the ball runs away.
29' Again Valladolid nick the ball of a Barça toe in the midfield and sprint forward. This time Toni Villa does the stealing and running, before laying it off to Unal on the right. His dink across goal is cleared at a stretch by Piqué.
25' Valladolid continue to press deep and then look to hit on the counter, and it almost bears fruit. Poor choice of final pass ensures no shot at goal.
23' Almost a tap-in for Luis Suárez there. Ivan Rakitic breaks down the right and then crosses to the waiting Uruguayan. far to close to Masip who gathers comfortably.
21' The visitors appear to be taking command of this game. Coutinho had a poor effort from distance and then a selection of passes ended at the feet of Dembele who drags his shot just wide of the near post.
19' Suárez almost gets on the end of a through ball down the inside-right channel but the ball rolls at pace into the arms of Matip.
17' Messi takes control of the ball half-way inside the Valladolid half, looks up and delivers an inch-perfect lobbed pass for the galloping Jordi Alba at the back post. Masip does brilliantly to smother the attempt before everyone relaxes at the sight of the offside flag. Replay shows he was well off.
16' Valladolid clearly have the plan to minimise individual space for Barca players in their defensive half. It's working to a point but the quick passing from the champions is creating little openings that could prove costly.
14' Wild shot there from Dembele sails over and away from goal. He can,of course, blame the grass.
11' Corner to Barça after a loose defensive header beats Masip in goal. Coutinho tries an outswinger but starts the trajectory too wide and it's a goal kick to Valladolid. Amateur stuff from the pricey-midfield.
9' For those that haven't heard, the new pitch was only laid four days ago. A number of players have already tripped over the turf and the ball is not running as true as we'd expect for this level.
8' Sergi Roberto gets forward, as he does, and almost fashions an effort from the edge of the area. Well intercepted and cleared.
7' CLOSE! Enes Unal is set free on the left channel and, with a great option to cut it back to a teammate, chooses to let fly. Ter Stegen did well to tip it over the bar. Nice strike.
4' Dembele creates the visitors' first chance. A bit of fortune sees him get to the left by-line and his adventurous attempt from a narrow angle is well over. The game is certainly starting at a good pace.
2' Early half chance for Valladolid. A quick turnover in their own half opens up the Barça territory and had Unal been able to latch on to the through-ball he'd have been 1-on-1 with Ter Stegen. A warning maybe.
1' Barça immediately take control of possession and get some early touches across the middle of the park. Their hosts not giving them much space once they move towards the final third.
The game at the Wanda is not long finished and Atlético - a team many see as Barça's rival for the title - overcame Rayo by a goal to nil.
Right, enough of the pre-game pleasantries. The players are on the pitch and it's almost time for kick-off.
In their history, the Pucela have won 12 times against Barça in Zorrilla, although they have also lost 20 matches.
A fond memory of the home fans regarding this fixture will come in the form of Fausto Rossi. The Italian scored the goal for Real Valladolid that was enough to beat Barcelona 1-0 in the Zorrilla on March 8 2014. What are the chances of the same scoreline tonight?
If you're looking for further ways to view this match - to complement the live feed, of course, then check out our handy guide. Valladolid vs Barcelona: how and where to watch
As you'll have noticed, Ivan Rakitić will start in the heart of that visiting midfield. A player expected by many to leave the Catalan club this summer (and he still could) but one that Valverde has said he counts on.
The teams are in and Barça fans will likely be excited at the prospect of Dembele and Coutinho adding to the attacking threat of Messi and Suárez.
An away draw for the hosts and a home win for the travelling side. That was what LaLiga's opening weekend had in store for these two sides. Valverde comes into this game knowing that his high-profile team didn't perform great against Alaves and had it not been for an inspired Lionel Messi (where have we heard that before?) it could have been a more nervous end to the game.
Good evening from Spain and welcome to our live coverage of FC Barcelona's second game of the season as they travel to Valladolid in Saturday's late encounter.
Valladolid vs Barcelona: preview
After a convincing (at least in parts) 3-0 victory at the Camp Nou over Alavés last weekend, Barcelona will be expecting to make it two wins from two, as they travel to take on newly promoted Valladolid at the Estadio José Zorrilla tonight.
After netting two last week, Lionel Messi will be keen to add to his goal tally in the battle for the Pichichi and will surely start up front with Luis Suarez, who has had a somewhat poor start to the season. With plenty of depth in his squad, Ernesto Valverde could rotate his side and hand new signings Arthur and Arturo Vidal their full debuts tonight. After coming off the bench to score last week, Philippe Coutinho will feel he has done enough to deserve a starting place for a game the Blaugrana are almost sure to win.
Valladolid, meanwhile, managed to hold Girona to scoreless draw in Girona last week, and would consider securing another point against the title-holders at home to be a huge achievement. Winger and youth academy graduate Toni Villa was Valladolid’s best player against Girona last week and the 23-year-old will perhaps be the biggest threat to Barca’s backline led by Gerard Pique. But considering that they only managed one solitary shot against Girona last week, they will have to step up their game significantly if they want to take anything from this fixture.