Barcelona will be looking to return to winning ways in La Liga when they take on an improving Real Valladolid on Tuesday night.
Ronald Koeman‘s side, who are currently fifth in Spain’s top flight, were held to a 2-2 draw by Valencia on Saturday, while Valladolid picked up an excellent point at Sevilla.
Valladolid have collected 14 points from their 14 La Liga matches this season to sit 17th in the table, just one point outside of the relegation zone ahead of Tuesday’s clash with Barca.
There is no question that the White and Violets have shown improvement in recent weeks, though, losing just one of their last six in the league, which came away at division leaders Atletico Madrid.
Since a 2-0 defeat at Villarreal on November 2, Valladolid have beaten Athletic Bilbao, Granada and Osasuna, in addition to drawing with Levante and Sevilla.
Lucas Ocampos sent Sevilla ahead from the penalty spot in the 31st minute of Saturday’s contest, but Raul Garcia came up with an 87th-minute leveller for Sergio Gonzalez‘s side, who are currently operating in their third straight season at this level of football.
Barca, meanwhile, will enter Tuesday’s clash off the back of a 2-2 draw with Valencia on Saturday; Lionel Messi and Ronald Araujo both scored to hand the Catalan giants a 2-1 lead early in the second period, but Maxi Gomez came up with a 69th-minute leveller for Los Che.
A record of six wins, three draws and four defeats has brought Koeman’s side 21 points, which has left them in fifth position in the table, eight points behind leaders Atletico, who have a game in hand.
It is difficult to write off Barca at this early stage of the season, but the Catalan side have really struggled for consistency this term and have a number of issues to address.
Messi scored his 643rd goal for Barca against Valencia, which moved him level with Pele in terms of strikes for a single club, but the Argentina international is widely expected to move on next summer, with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain said to be firmly in the hunt.
The 26-time Spanish champions recorded a 1-0 victory in the corresponding match last season, but they did suffer a 1-0 defeat to Valladolid during the 2013-14 La Liga campaign.
Real Valladolid La Liga form: WWDLWD
Real Valladolid form (all competitions): WDLWWD
Barcelona La Liga form: LWLWWD
Barcelona form (all competitions): WLLWWD
Valladolid will again be without the services of Joaquin Fernandez, Saidy Janko, Javi Moyano and Kiko Olivas through injury, but Sergio’s side did not pick up any fresh issues against Sevilla.
Sergi Guardiola, Ruben Alcaraz and Jota all came off the bench at Estadio Ramon and are options for change, but it would not be a surprise to see the same XI sent onto the field.
Maranhao and Shon Weissman should continue as the front two, while Fabian Orellana and Oscar Plano are expected to retain their positions in the wide areas.
As for Barca, Sergi Roberto, Gerard Pique and Ansu Fati remain on the sidelines, while Ousmane Dembele is also unlikely to be involved despite recently returning to first-team training following a hamstring issue.
Koeman is expected to make alterations from the side that started against Valencia, with Clement Lenglet and Frenkie de Jong likely to come in for Oscar Mingueza and Philippe Coutinho.
Miralem Pjanic and Trincao are also pushing for starts, but Pedri, Antoine Griezmann and Martin Braithwaite are expected to retain their spots in support of Messi.
Real Valladolid possible starting lineup:
Masip; Hervias, Bruno, El Yamiq, Garcia; Orellana, Mesa, Fede, Plano; Weissman, Maranhao
Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Dest, Araujo, Lenglet, Alba; De Jong, Busquets; Braithwaite, Pedri, Griezmann; Messi
Valladolid’s recent performances and indeed results have been encouraging, and it would not be a surprise to see them move clear of the relegation zone in the coming weeks. Barca desperately need to return to winning ways, though, and we fancy Koeman’s side to edge a close game on Tuesday night.
Our analysis of all available data, including recent performances and player stats up until an hour before kickoff, suggested the most likely outcome of this match was a Barcelona win with a probability of 80%. A draw had a probability of 13.9% and a win for Real Valladolid had a probability of 6.14%.
The most likely scoreline for a Barcelona win was 0-2 with a probability of 14.87%. The next most likely scorelines for that outcome were 0-3 (12.37%) and 0-1 (11.91%). The likeliest drawn scoreline was 1-1 (6.51%), while for a Real Valladolid win it was 1-0 (2.61%). The actual scoreline of 0-3 was predicted with a 12.4% likelihood. Our data analysis correctly predicted that Barcelona would win this match.