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Messi penalty enough to see off stubborn Valladolid

A first half Lionel Messi was enough to see Barcelona extend their lead at the top of LaLiga ahead of key clash in Champions League on Tuesday.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 16:  Lionel Messi of Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Real Valladolid CF at Camp Nou on February 16, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramo
David RamosGetty Images

Barcelona 1-0 Rea Valladolid: match report

Ernesto Valverde opted for several rotations on Saturday night against Valladolid and the players he did pick made it hard work for themselves as they prepare for the Champions League last 16 against Lyon on Tuesday.

Messi started but Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic and Philippe Coutinho were rested along with Clement Lenglet at the back and with Arthur out, there were chances for Thomas Vermaelen, Carles Aleña, Kevin Prince Boateng and a returning Ousmane Dembele.

Barcelona started in second gear and never really strayed too far from that pace even though they completely dominated the second half.

Piqué was the difference in the first half when he found himself in Valladolid's penalty area before being pulled down by Herrero. Messi stepped up and slotted home the penalty to score his 22nd goal in 22 games in the league this season.

He had a chance to make it 2-0 late on when Philippe Coutinho was taken down in the area by Kiko Olivas. Messi stepped up and went the same side only to see his former teammate Joel Masip guess the right way (again) and save.

Luis Suarez had a number of chances to put the game to bed after coming on for Prince Boateng but couldn't convert and Messi was frustrated time and time again by Masip too.

But this game was more about the energy Barcelona conserved rather than what they did do. They were knocked out of the Champions League in the last 16 last season and are trying to avoid the same fate this season.

They will go to sleep on Saturday night seven points clear of Atlético Madrid in second and nine ahead of Real Madrid in third, who play Girona on Sunday afternoon.

And possibly more importantly, they have a clean bill of health heading into the showdown on Tuesday night.

Barcelona vs Real Valladolid live online: match updates

Barcelona vs Real Valladolid live online: preview

Barcelona are back in LaLiga action against Real Valladolid on Saturday with one eye on the Champions League alst 16 on Wednesday against Lyon. Valladolid are coming off a decent 0-0 with Villarreal in which they were delighted to have denied a fellow relegation-battler a win while Barcelona are coming off their own fristrating 0-0 draw with Athletic Bilbao last Sunday night. Kick-off from the Camp Nou is at 20:45 CET.

Ernesto Valverde just signed a new deal, which extends his current contract until 2021 and he will be hoping to celebrate that with a win on Saturday afternoon. Samuel Umtiti is nearing a return but the game came too quickly for him and it seems Lenglet and Piqué will start at the back again while Arthur remains out. Ousmané Dembélé is back and should start and Coutinho's place should be safe given the absence of Arthur in the middle. Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez could remain the heartbeat of their attack despite playing mutliple games in recent weeks but Valverde might rotate in effort to keep some legs fresh for Tuesday. Real Madrid sit just six points behind Barça at the top of the table and have Girona at home on Sunday. Barcelona don't want that gap to get any smaller even if it means playing their best 11 just days before the Champions League last 16 tie against a lively Lyon. They'll be looking to end this one and end it early so they can be rested and ready for Tuesday but if Valladolid can keep close, it could be another Bilbao-like situation for Ernesto Valverde's side.

Ronaldo Nazarío returns to Barcelona but this time he is the owner of Valladolid. And they had a good run of it for a spell under the Brazilian before regressing to the mean. Even in their loftiests dreams, they knew they wouldn't be fighting for Europe but maybe hope they could remain in mid-table. They currently sit 15th and just three point off the relegation places. They are missing Oscar Plano to suspension along with Ruben Alcaraz and Lusimi.


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