Arturo Vidal’s first-half goal was enough to give Barcelona a narrow 1-0 win over Real Valladolid and keep the Catalans in the title race, closing the gap on Real Madrid to one point.
With just three fixtures of the season left to play, this was a must-win match for Barca. This was far from a vintage performance from Quique Setien’s side, but they got the job done to keep on their rivals’ tail at the top of La Liga.
Setien opted for a back three, with Sergi Roberto as the right-sided centre back and Nelson Semedo as the wing-back on the same flank. There was also a place in the starting lineup for Riqui Puig, with Luis Suarez dropped to the bench.
The decisive moment came after 15 minutes when Vidal lashed home a finish after being set up by Lionel Messi inside the area. Antoine Griezmann should have doubled Barca’s advantage moments later but scuffed his shot from only yards out following good play by Semedo down the right.
Real Valladolid created some chances of their own, with Kike Perez and Enes Unal in particular spurning opportunities to find the back of the net, but the visitors held out for a win that keeps them in the title race with Real Madrid set to face Granada on Monday evening.