Riqui Puig and Messi come to congratulate Dembélé after his goal.ALBERT GEA / Reuters
Dembélé got Barça out of a major predicament in the last minute of the game against Valladolid. The Frenchman hooked a shot that put the Catalans within a point of Atlético in the wake of the Madrid classic. Barcelona's surprising career is also explained by Dembélé's amazing way of being. The match felt like a shot to Koeman's team until the forward holed a left foot without the possibility of a reply from Masip. The goal irritated the people of Valladolid, not because of the play, which was the fault of their defense, but because they understood that the referee had taken away a penalty at the hands of Jordi Alba and had arguably sent off Óscar Plano.
Barça was lucky , relentless and admirable in the pursuit of the leadership, winner of 40 points out of 42, and dizzy instead from the euphoria generated when he has felt so close to the head of the League. The Catalans lost their football charm, evident in their last visit to Anoeta, after the championship break, indicated as candidates for the title due to Atlético's defeat in Nervión. The League was waiting for a full team and an anguished squad appeared and sent the score: 1-0.
Barcelona Ter Stegen, Frenkie De Jong, Clement Lenglet, Óscar Mingueza (Ronald Araújo, min. 62), Alba, Pedri (Moriba Kourouma, min. 76), Busquets (Braithwaite, min. 63), Sergiño Dest (Ricard Puig, min. 86), Messi, Griezmann (Trincão, min. 62) and Ousmane DembéléReal ValladolidMasip, Olaza, Javier Sánchez, Bruno González, Rubén Alcaraz, Óscar Plano, Saidy Janko (Hervías, min. 64), Nacho, Roque Mesa, Sergi Guardiola (Marcos de Sousa, min. 76) and Kenan Kodro (Waldo Rubio, min. 84) Goals1-0 min. 89: Ousmane Dembélé. Referee Santiago Jaime Latre Yellow cards Griezmann (min. 27), Bruno González (min. 39), Óscar Mingueza (min. 42), Sergi Guardiola (min. 72), Masip (min. 79) and Braithwaite (min. 83) Red cards Óscar Plano (min. 78)
Koeman no longer pays attention to the rival, not at the moment and not even in the circumstances when the line-up sings, but for four games, from the one he faced PSG in a meeting of maximum demand In the Champions League, he bets on the same players and, therefore, prefers De Jong as the third center-back, even after recovering Araujo. The Dutch midfielder ensures a clean exit of the ball from the Barca area and allows Griezmann to be kept as a starter. The Frenchman has become a team player who attacks and defends so that Dembélé can risk dribbling and Messi maneuvers as a hook, as intimidating in the pass as in the shot, top scorer of the tournament (23 league goals). The captain's reliability, equally decisive in the easy days as in the difficult ones, and the dynamic of good results of the team, undefeated since the embarrassment of Cádiz in December, conditioned Barça's initial game. Barça football was flat, dispassionate and rhetorical in the search for Messi. Accustomed to winning, Koeman's boys took victory for granted against an opponent who is competing to escape the relegation zone and who arrived at the Camp Nou with up to 12 casualties. Valladolid only needed to finish off his good deployment, vertical in the transitions and skillful in the openings to the sides, pending the head of Kodro, who finished off the crossbar on the clearest occasion of Sergio's neat team.
The Valladolid coach He surprised Koeman with the game design, equally protected in a 3-5-2, more effective than that of Barcelona. The azulgranas walked, without pace of play or finesse in the pass, too contemplative, more aware of the referee than of Masip. There was no depth or arrivals from the sides and only a shot from Pedri from outside the area gave Barça life testimony. The shot hit the post after the Valladolid goalkeeper intervened. The competitive tension of the pucelanos contrasted with the laziness of Barça. The situation demanded the intervention of the Barcelona coach and Koeman opted to change the drawing (4-3-3) after overtaking De Jong.
Jaleados in the tunnel of changing rooms by Messi – "It is necessary to remove it as it is!" -, the barcelonistas approached better to the opposite field, pressed more after losing the ball, began to open the game by the bands of Dest and Alba. Valladolid, however, did not falter in defense and their selective arrivals were as intimidating as they were poorly defended by Barça. At game time, the two teams counted the same chances (two) after Griezmann missed a header on an empty goal and Olaza finished off the net from Ter Stegen's frame. The meeting became an exchange of blows in the open field, with Braithwaite and Trincão already in the field, Griezman replaced.
There was no way, however, to find Masip's goal. Nervous and unhappy, the Catalans survived due to three fortunate actions: a hand from Alba, which the referee appreciated as involuntary and not punishable or worthy of being reviewed by Var; the expulsion of Óscar Plano; and Dembélé's goal in an act of faith for Barça. De Jong crossed the ball from the right, Araujo combed to the far post and Dembélé appeared to make it 1-0 in the 90th minute.
The game was always considered a hindrance on the way to the Madrid clash. There was even more fear that Messi and De Jong could be reprimanded and cause a loss in Valdebebas than a result that Dembélé saved.
You can follow DEPORTES on Facebook and Twitter , or sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter .