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
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor