La Liga: Barcelona beaten 1-0 by Valladolid, with coach Gerardo Martino claiming 'we lacked what makes us Barca'

 

Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino needs to find a quick fix for whatever is ailing his team or his first season in charge at the Nou Camp is likely to end without major silverware.

Barca turned in one of their worst performances since the Argentine took over on Saturday and the shock 1-0 La Liga defeat at lowly Real Valladolid opened the way for Real Madrid to stretch their lead at the top.

Although the Catalan giants dominated possession as usual, they squandered what few genuine chances they managed to create against ultra-defensive opponents, with Lionel Messi and Neymar the main culprits.

There was more urgency in the Barca ranks in the second half but far too many passes went astray and Valladolid were comfortably able to hang on to their lead.

Barca were a shadow of the team that blazed a trail in Spain and Europe under Pep Guardiola and the club's fans will be casting envious glances towards Germany where Guardiola's new club Bayern Munich swept to another impressive win in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

“We lacked what makes us Barca,” Martino said at a news conference.

“Good elaboration in our build-up, finding spaces, breaking through on the wings and having depth,” the 51-year-old added.

“We had very few chances of actually running at goal and we almost always had to fight against 10 defenders. A good solution would have been creating more space.”

In-form Real, who are undefeated in 28 matches in all competitions since they lost to Barca in La Liga at the end of October, can open a four-point lead over Martino's side with a win at home to Levante later on Sunday.

Victory at the Bernabeu would put them three ahead of Atletico Madrid, who climbed above Spain's big two to the top of the table thanks to Saturday's 2-0 win at Celta Vigo.

Despite Saturday's performance, variously labelled “pitiful”, “shameless” and “suicidal” in the Spanish media, Barca, who are chasing a fifth La Liga title in six years, are still alive on three fronts.

They have a 2-0 lead over Manchester City ahead of Wednesday's Champions League last 16, second leg at the Nou Camp and play at Real's Bernabeu stadium in the La Liga “Clasico” in two weeks.

They will also meet their bitter rivals in the King's Cup final on April 16, when they will be seeking revenge for their defeat in the showpiece match in 2011 at the same Mestalla stadium in Valencia.

“We had to win at the Bernabeu (in La Liga) regardless,” Martino said.

“Currently we aren't at our best and we have to find our best form in order to play against teams like Real Madrid. We have 15 days to do it.”

Barca fullback Dani Alves acknowledged that Saturday's result was “very negative” but insisted he and his team mates would “fight until the end”.

“It's hard to win the league if you don't take the three points week in and week out,” the Brazil international told reporters.

“Now we don't depend on ourselves and that complicates things,” he added.

“We will never give up, we will fight until the end like we've always done. There isn't time for complaints, we have to keep on fighting.”

REUTERS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions
Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

How Etsy became a crafty little earner

The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

Don't fear the artichoke

Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
11 best men's socks

11 best men's socks

Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

Paul Scholes column

Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

Frank Warren's Ringside

Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

Khorasan is back in Syria

America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

On the campaign trail with Ukip

Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

Expect a rush on men's tights

Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions