Barcelona Star Lionel Messi claims that the referee tried to intentionally give him a yellow card in the match against Valladolid ahead of the Clasico.
Lionel Messi led Barcelona’s 1-0 win over Valladolid on Monday proved to be a huge one. Besides closing the gap to just one point between them and table toppers Atletico Madrid, the team ensured that they maintained their 19 games unbeaten streak in the league.
Barcelona is the only side in Europe to remain unbeaten in their domestic league. And this Saturday they face Real Madrid at the Alfredo di Stephano Stadium. However, all of that would have been ruined had Messi been booked in their clash against Valladolid.
The Argentine has already been cautioned four times this season in La Liga. A fifth yellow card against Valladolid would have meant being suspended for El Clasico.
Lionel Messi was found chatting with Carlos Naval about this issue while walking off the pitch at halftime. He could clearly be heard saying that the referee was intentionally looking for a reason to get him booked. “He’s desperate to show me a car… ufff, incredible”, Lionel Messi said.
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After Barca’s lacklustre performance in the first half, the captain was eager to get them to raise their game. He was found being uncharacteristically loud in the tunnel, urging his teammates to step up.
A POOR PERFORMANCE BUT THREE POINTS ALL THE SAME
The two-week break in club football meant a disruption in the season calendar. And the effect of the break was quite clearly reflected in Blaugrana’s performance on Monday.
The team looked shaky at the back from the beginning. Valladolid even managed to register a shot on target, only to be denied by the woodwork. The midfield and the forward line could barely link up and the game was static. In short, a frustrating first half from a side that has been playing some quality football for the past few months.
The second half brought some life into the game. Also, the Catalans decided to open it up and focused on working their flanks. Both Jordi Alba and Dest were having a busy night on the wings.
Barcelona came close twice, with Pedri and Griezmann who both, miraculously, failed to score. Koeman used all five available substitutions in a desperate bid to step up their attacks.
The Dutchman finally seemed to have added the missing piece of the puzzle in the 85th minute. As Sergino Dest made way for Riqui Puig, the game completely concentrated on Barca’s attacking third.
Ousmane Dembele’s strike at the 90th minuted proved to be decisive
Puig’s high pressing game allowed Frenkie De Jong more freedom on the right. The versatile midfielder used his space to get inside the box. A lobbed ball inside the area allowed Araujo to get his head to it. The slight touch proved effective as the ball landed right at the feet of Ousmane Dembele. The Frenchman, standing at the far post, made no mistake as he volleyed it home to save the game in the very last minute of regulation time.
Despite certain controversial calls, including a red card, no major questions were asked. All the more, it proved to be a wake-up call for the Catalans before the Clasico. So, it is quite clear that major improvements are required if Barcelona want to stand any chance of winning the highly awaited clash, which might prove to be the title decider.
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