Barcelona, March 9: Barcelona suffered a potentially disastrous 0-1 away loss to Valladolid Saturday in a result which could have huge significance in the race for the Spanish La Liga football title.
Now if Real Madrid win at home against Levante Sunday, they will open up a four-point lead over Barca and the Catalan giants will no longer hold their title destiny in their own hands, just a fortnight before they visit the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, reports Xinhua.
Even if Barca had come away from the Nuevo Zorilla Stadium with a point, nobody would be betting on them to win the title – they rarely looked like breaking down a side staring at relegation.
Fausto Rossi’s first goal for Valladolid in the 17th minute was enough to give his side three points against a star-studded opponent.
Barcelona kicked off without midfielder Andres Iniesta who had to pull out of the squad for personal reasons, while Carles Puyol, who announced he would leave the club at the end of the season, was rested.
Lionel Messi was in the side despite worries about why he has developed a tendency to vomit on the pitch during games. Coach Tata Martino said during his Friday press conference that Messi had seen a specialist, but that the club were not worried by the problem.
The home side played a five-man defence, but with their front pair of Javi Guerra and Manucho willing to work hard to close Barca down and create pressure in midfield, the Catalans found space hard to come by and were exposed to Valladolid on the break.
Barcelona was huffing and puffing by the second half, failing to break down a Valladolid defence which won all of the individual duels and limited them to shots from outside the penalty area.
Barca looked slow, sluggish and lacking ideas and with Javi Guerra leading the Valladolid line, the home side took a famous win.
They now have a fighting chance of avoiding relegation while Barca may have to go back to the drawing board.