Evening all! Sports Mole
's live La Liga coverage for the 2018-19 campaign continues from the Estadio Jose Zorrilla as Real Valladolid
welcome the Spanish champions Barcelona
. It will be their first meeting since the 2013-14 La Liga season, and Valladolid actually ran out 1-0 winners during that particular match. Will that be repeated tonight? Stay tuned to find out!
As mentioned, Valladolid recorded a 1-0 victory when these two teams last locked horns in March 2014, with Fausto Rossi scoring the only goal of the match. Valladolid are back in La Liga for the first time since that particular season, and will be eyeing another huge result tonight.
Right, let me bring you up-to-speed with the all-important team news for this match. Have both managers shuffled their packs following their respective league openers? Let's have a look!
VALLADOLID: Masip; Moyano, Olivas, Calero, Nacho; Borja, Alcaraz, Anuar, Toni, Plano; Unal
BARCELONA: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Umtiti, Pique, Alba; Busquets, Rakitic, Coutinho; Messi, L Suarez, Dembele
Jordi Masip starts between the sticks for Valladolid against the team that he represented between 2004 and 2017. The Spaniard only ever made one La Liga appearance for the Catalan giants, however, and four first-team appearances overall. On-loan Villarreal attacker Enes Unal will again lead the line, while Anuar, Oscar Plano and Toni also all start for the home side.
As for Barcelona, head coach Ernesto Valverde has made one change to the team that started against Alaves last weekend - Philippe Coutinho coming in for Nelson Semedo. As a result, Sergi Roberto has dropped from midfield into the right-back spot. Meanwhile, Ousmane Dembele
will again line up alongside Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi in the final third of the field.
So there we have it. The two teams are in, and we are now just about 40 minutes from kickoff tonight. I shall speak about the home side a little bit later, but let's start with Barcelona. Ernesto Valverde's side opened their title defence with a 3-0 home success over Alaves last weekend.
A 3-0 scoreline sounds comfortable, but it does not really tell the whole story. Indeed, Alaves frustrated Barcelona before Lionel Messi came up with an excellent free kick in the 64th minute. Philippe Coutinho then made it 2-0 seven minutes from time, before Messi added a third in the 92nd minute. All three points were secured, but it was not really a dominant performance.
Barcelona reclaimed the Spanish title from Real Madrid last season, and they did not really need to break a sweat. Indeed, the Catalan giants won 28 of their 38 league matches – suffering just one defeat – to collect 93 points. Second-placed Atletico Madrid were 14 points behind, with Real Madrid ultimately finishing the season 17 points off the top of the table, which is quite incredible.
Malcom, Clement Lenglet, Arthur and Arturo Vidal have all arrived at Barcelona this summer, and all have settled well at the club. Barcelona ultimately fell short in the Champions League last season, and there is no question that the supporters will be expecting a better challenge in Europe this term.
In terms of what is ahead for Barcelona, they will continue their La Liga season with a home game against Huesca next weekend. Then comes the September international break, before a trip to Real Sociedad on September 15. In truth, it would be a surprise if Barcelona did not have a 100% record at that point. That said, as mentioned, Valladolid beat them 1-0 in their last meeting.
Valladolid, meanwhile, played out a goalless draw with Girona on August 17 as they started life back in the top flight with a point. As mentioned above, Valladolid were relegated from La Liga at the end of the 2013-14 campaign, and actually spent four seasons in the second tier.
Valladolid finished fifth, 16th and seventh in their first three seasons back in the Segunda Division, before posting fifth last term. Sergio Gonzalez ultimately led the club to promotion via the playoffs, and they will now be looking to consolidate in the top flight once again.
Valladolid actually lost 13 times in the league last season, which is a high number for a team that were ultimately promoted. It has been a fairly busy summer transfer window, with Ruben Alcarez their major signing from Girona. Duje Cop, meanwhile, is also among those to have arrived.
Here we go then; both sets of players have joined us on the pitch ahead of kickoff tonight. It is Real Valladolid against Barcelona in La Liga - stay tuned for live minute-by-minute updates!
KICKOFF: Barcelona kick things off tonight...
... it must be said that there is a wonderful atmosphere inside the stadium tonight. As expected, the champions Barcelona have taken control of the possession in the opening moments here.
Not too much to report in terms of attacking football in the early moments of this one, but Barcelona have had all of the ball, with Valverde's side pushing extremely high up the field.
SHOT! Decent work from Dembele as the Frenchman drives into the Valladolid box before striking towards goal from a narrow angle, but his effort was always too high.
SAVE! Unal - on his Valladolid debut - goes for goal from an acute angle, and Ter Stegen has to push the ball over the crossbar. Excellent stuff from the home side's attacker!
Plenty happening at the moment as both teams have their moments in the final third of the field. Barcelona threaten with a cross into the Valladolid box, but Nacho is on hand to clear down-field.
The pitch is cutting up terribly as the clock ticks on here, which is not good news when considering that there is still an awful lot of football to play before the night is out.
Oh my word. Luis Suarez almost got lost down a hole there! This pitch is just dreadful.
Another smart move from Barcelona as Messi finds Coutinho, who finds Dembele and then Alba, but Valladolid have enough players back to deal with the danger. Still goalless here.
SAVE! Ter Stegen shuffles across to keep out a strike from Toni.
Dembele works some space in a forward position before striking towards goal, but his effort was always wide of the post. The pitch continues to cut up, meanwhile, and conditions are not good.
Messi finds Alba with a wonderful pass, but Masip is out to claim. The offside flag was raised, however, and it would not have counted. The pass from Messi was out of this world once again.
Valladolid will be pretty pleased with their first 20 minutes here. Barcelona have dominated the ball, but chances have been few and far between. The pitch though, is getting worse and worse.
SHOT! Not too far away from Dembele, with the Frenchman striking from the edge of the Valladolid box. Dembele has again been really bright for the Spanish champions tonight.
Rakitic breaks into a wide position before delivering low towards Luis Suarez, but the Valladolid goalkeeper is again on hand to make the claim. Barcelona continue to dominate the ball here.
Good defending from Alba as the Barcelona left-back is across on the cover to clear a through pass from Borja. Not too much quality in the final third of the field from Valladolid thus far.
Unal continues to chase down the Barcelona defence, and the home supporters are pleased with what they have seen from the number nine in his first 28 minutes as a Valladolid player.
Valladolid continue to commit players on the counter, but it would be fair to say that the home side are just lacking that final piece of quality in the final third of the field at the moment.
Pique has to clear behind his own crossbar as Valladolid again break clear on the counter. Unal was looking for Plano with the cross, but Pique did well to turn behind for a corner kick.
Ter Stegen keeps out a header from Unal, but the referee had blown his whistle.
CHANCE! Messi finds Dembele inside the Valladolid box, but the Frenchman cannot pick out Luis Suarez with the next pass. The touch from Messi to find Dembele was just wonderful.
SAVE! Masip is on hand to keep out a close-range Luis Suarez effort!
SAVE! Wonderful save from Masip to keep out a low Coutinho strike! Excellent!
Messi dances into the Valladolid box before delivering a low cross towards Dembele, but the home side somehow manage to clear once again. The pressure is relentless at the moment.
Another half-chance for Luis Suarez, but Kiko is on hand to make the clearance. Valladolid just cannot get out of their own half at the moment as Barcelona continue to force the issue.
Messi has just handled the ball inside the Valladolid box, and the home side's players think that a yellow card should be issued. The referee, however, simply waves play on.
Barcelona have a free kick just outside the box as Messi is brought to the deck...
... Messi's free kick is over the Valladolid crossbar. Not this time.
Valladolid really need the half-time break to come as Barcelona pass and probe in the final third of the field. Messi is starting to become more and more involved in the game here.
HALF TIME: REAL VALLADOLID 0-0 BARCELONA
So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to a close with the two teams level at 0-0. Barcelona have dominated the match in terms of possession and chances created, but have been unable to find the back of the net, with Valladolid's Masip making a couple of excellent saves.
STATISTICS! Barcelona dominated the first-half possession with 75%, while they had seven attempts - two of which were on target. Valladolid, meanwhile, managed two shots on target from their two attempts. Barcelona also completed 347 passes to Valladolid's 118.
BENCH WATCH! Barcelona boss Valverde has a number of attacking options on his bench tonight, with Munir, Arthur, Malcom and Vidal all available. Meanwhile, Valladolid have the likes of Cop, Keko, Michel and Verde in reserve. Will we see any changes at the interval here?
KICKOFF: Valladolid resume the action in front of their own fans...
... no changes from either side at the break, which is not too much of a surprise. However, I suspect that both managers will have alterations in mind as the second period develops here.
SHOT! Unal fires wide of the Barcelona post with a curling effort from inside the box.
YELLOW CARD! Unal (Valladolid) is booked for a foul on Busquets.
Alcarez is chopped to the ground by Luis Suarez, and the striker is fortunate to escape a yellow card. Quite a scrappy start to the second half of action it must be said!
Unal continues to cause Barcelona problems in a wide position, but the number nine cannot find a teammate with a cross. The pressure continues though, with Valladolid winning a corner.
Valladolid continue to put the pressure on Barcelona in the early stages of the second period. It would be very interesting if the home side were to take the lead in this match.
GOAL! VALLADOLID 0-1 BARCELONA (DEMBELE)
Barcelona make the breakthrough in the 57th minute as Roberto heads back towards Dembele inside the Valladolid box, and the winger finds the back of the net with a super low strike!
YELLOW CARD! Pique (Barcelona) is booked for a foul on Plano.
No movement on the Valladolid bench, but we are entering the stage of the match where Sergio will be considering changes. Valverde, meanwhile, may also look to change things up here.
VALLADOLID SUB! Keko replaces Borja for the home side.
You do get the feeling that there is at least one more goal in this match, with still a lot of football to be played before the night is out. Dembele remains the brightest Barcelona forward.
Barcelona are controlling the game at the moment as they pass from side to side.
Valladolid are preparing to make their second change of the match as Cop waits here.
Plano has a cross deflected behind for a corner as the home side press for a leveller here.
VALLADOLID SUB! Cop replaces Unal for the home side.
Toni delivers a super cross into the Barcelona box as Valladolid continue to look for a leveller, but Pique is on hand to make the clearance. Little over 15 minutes of football remaining here.
Valladolid continue to commit players in the final third of the field here.
BARCELONA SUB! Vidal replaces Dembele for the away side.
CHANCE! Incredible chance for Keko following a super cross from Cop, but he heads straight into the arms of Ter Stegen. It really should be 1-1 here!
We have not seen much from Messi or Luis Suarez in the second half of this match.
Valladolid continue to work the ball in the final third of the field, and a low cross from Cop has just caused all sorts of problems inside the Barcelona box. We have some final 10 minutes here.
DISALLOWED GOAL! Suarez strokes the ball home, but it has been disallowed!
BARCELONA SUB! Malcom replaces Coutinho for Barcelona.
VALLADOLID SUB! Verde replaces Toni for the home side.
SAVE! Smart save from Masip to keep out a powerful strike from Malcom.
BARCELONA SUB! Munir replaces Luis Suarez for the away side.
We are into the second of three additional minutes at the end of the match.
GOAL! REAL VALLADOLID 1-1 BARCELONA (KEKO)
Incredible scenes. No goal! Keko was offside!
FULL TIME: REAL VALLADOLID 0-1 BARCELONA
So there we have it. The referee brings the second period to a close with Barcelona running out 1-0 winners over Real Valladolid courtesy of a second-half effort from Dembele. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for our live coverage once again. Until next time!