Arturo Vidal scored the only goal of the game as Barcelona won 1-0 at Real Valladolid on Saturday to move back within one point of La Liga leaders Real Madrid, who don't play until Monday. Vidal struck in the 15th minute at the Jose Zorrilla Stadium after being teed up by Lionel Messi. Antoine Griezmann missed a great chance to double Barca's lead before the break and Quique Setien's side were forced to work hard in the second half to hang on to the three points.
Barca live to fight another day in the title race, but they still need Madrid to slip up twice to win the league. Zinedine Zidane's side can restore their four-point advantage if they win at Granada on Monday. They would then be crowned champions if they beat Villarreal on Thursday in their penultimate game of the season. For Barca, they have to beat Osasuna and Alaves and hope for the best. The first half performances was good, too, especially early on when the passing was quick and effective.
The second half performance was at best boring. Barca hardly created a chance of note while goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen had to make a couple of important saves. A trend is emerging of Barca starting well and then slowing down under Setien. Perhaps it's because he's dealing with an ageing squad. Perhaps it's because he's struggling to react to changes made by the opposition.
Manager rating out of 10
5 -- Setien returned to a back three for the first time since Barca lost to Valencia in January. His side did well in the first half, zipping the ball around nicely, and if they'd taken their chances, it would have been a different story. Instead, the second half was difficult to watch at times and Setien's changes -- taking off Riqui Puig and not bringing on Martin Braithwaite -- left a little to be desired.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Marc ter Stegen, 8 -- Made a great save from Enes Unal in the second half and one in stoppage time from Sandro Ramirez in another match-winning performance.
DF Sergi Roberto, 6 -- Mr. Versatile. Started as the right-sided centre-back in a back three, albeit with a licence to attack, and ended the game on the left of a midfield four. Did well in both positions.
DF Gerard Pique, 7 -- Defended the box well when Valladolid started to apply pressure in the second half.
DF Clement Lenglet, 6 -- Played well but was taken off early in the second half, perhaps because he was deemed a red card risk after an early booking.
MF Nelson Semedo, 7 -- A real threat on the right flank, especially in the first half, when he set up chance after chance for his teammates. Not as prominent after the break.
MF Arturo Vidal, 6 -- Took his goal really well to take his tally in La Liga this season to eight. Worked hard as ever and tired at the end.
MF Sergio Busquets, 6 -- Vital to Barca's quick start with his intelligent, one-touch passing. Taken off for Junior in the second half.
MF Riqui Puig, 7 -- Has been a breath of a fresh air in recent weeks. The prototype of midfielder Barca need.
MF Jordi Alba, 6 -- Didn't have as much joy on the left as Semedo had down the right.
FW Lionel Messi, 6 -- A quiet game by his standards but still set up the goal to record a league-high 20th assist of the season in La Liga to pair with his 22 goals.
FW Antoine Griezmann, 5 -- Wasted his two best moments, mis-controlling the ball when given a gimme by Semedo and failing to find Messi when Barca had the chance to break. Taken off at half-time in what looked like a pre-planned change.
FW Luis Suarez, 5 -- Came on for Griezmann at the break but struggled to have any real effect on the game.
DF Ronald Araujo, 5 -- More minutes for the young Uruguayan, who should benefit from his involvement with the first team since La Liga restarted.
MF Ivan Rakitic, 5 -- Given half an hour in the middle, working hard but unable to get forward as he would have liked.
DF Junior Firpo, NR -- Replaced Busquets late on as Setien shifted the team's shape.