Barcelona’s bid for the league title hit a roadblock against Granada.
With five games left on the season, Barcelona’s path to LaLiga glory took a major blow after the Catalans were unable to take care of business at home against Granada.
The loss means they no longer depend on themselves in the race for the league title. However, there is little time to mope as Barcelona now face an even sterner test away to Valencia.
From here on out, every game is going to be a final and there is no longer any room for error. One more stumble and the race for the title will be all but over.
Here’s how Barcelona may line up against Valencia.
Barcelona predicted lineup: Ter Stegen; Mingueza, Pique, Lenglet; Dest, De Jong, Busquets, Pedri, Alba; Messi, Griezmann
As mentioned, Koeman’s team needs to win out and then hope that both Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid stumble in the remaining fixtures that are left.
Given the situation, Koeman is going to rely on his best side from here on out. He rotated against Granada and things did not work out.
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The first encounter between these two teams was at the Camp Nou in December of last year where “Los Che’ managed a draw despite the home side taking the lead in the second-half.
As has been the case the past couple of games, Lionel Messi and Frenkie de Jong will need to be careful as they are one yellow card away from being suspended. The same goes for Oscar Mingueza and Antoine Griezmann.
Should any of them pick up a yellow card, they would miss the next match against Atletico Madrid. While it is a risk, it is a risk that Koeman has to take.
The loss to Granada threw a wrench in their plans and was likely something they did not believe could happen. But it did and now the pressure is ramped up, forcing Barcelona to win out and hope other teams do them a favor.
Being clinical in front of goal has been the team’s weakness despite leading the league with 77 goals. It’s that they can’t seem to score in the more important games or that they need a number of chances to score one.
As the game progresses, like the loss to Granada, the desperation to score is palpable but they often find themselves unable to push through.
On paper, Barcelona are favorites given the league table. They are in third while Valencia lounge in 14th place. But it’s been the teams lower in the standings that have caused Barcelona problems this seasons. Suffice to say that this game, and the ones remaining, have all become must win.