La Liga

December 22, 2012

Full-time

Real Valladolid

1 - 3

Barcelona

La Liga

17:00 +00:00, December 22, 2012

Nuevo Jose Zorilla Stadium, Spain

Barca focused on football

Team Stat Comparison

Real Valladolid Barcelona
Matches Played 38 38
Table Position 14 1
Points 43 100
Goal Difference -9 75
Goals for * 1.5 2.7
Goals against * 1.4 1.3
Last 5 L-L-L-W-L W-W-W-W-W
Last 5 home L-W-D-W-L W-W-W-W-W
Last 5 away L-L-L-D-L W-W-D-W-D
*  Goals per match - home matches for home club and away matches for away club
Stats: Real Valladolid | Barcelona

Competition Stats

Real Valladolid Barcelona
Goals Óscar González 12 Lionel Messi 46
Assists Óscar González 7 Andrés Iniesta 16
Yellows Lluis Sastre 10 Sergio Busquets 9
Reds Henrique Sereno Fonseca 1 Gerard Piqué 1
Squads: Real Valladolid | Barcelona

Next Matches

Real Valladolid Barcelona
4/28 A: Celta Vigo 4/20 H: Athletic Bilbao
5/3 H: Espanyol 4/27 A: Villarreal
5/7 H: Real Madrid 5/3 H: Getafe
5/11 A: Real Betis 5/11 A: Elche
5/18 H: Granada 5/18 H: Atletico Madrid

Barcelona will turn their attentions back to matters on the pitch when they meet Real Valladolid in the Primera Division with manager Tito Vilanova their driving force.

The season could not have been going smoother, with Barca nine points clear of Atletico Madrid and 13 ahead of great rivals Real Madrid, whose manager, Jose Mourinho, has already conceded his side's hopes of retaining their title are over.

But this week brought the shocking news that Vilanova's cancer has returned and he underwent a second operation on his parotid gland.

The 44-year-old, who also had a tumour removed from his throat in November last year, will now start six weeks of chemotherapy and assistant Jordi Roura has taken temporary charge of the team.

Coincidentally, this week also saw the return to training of full-back Eric Abidal nine months after a liver transplant necessitated by his own cancer battle.

The Frenchman's recovery has been a hugely welcome boost for Barcelona's players, and captain Carles Puyol said: "You're never prepared to hear news like this, but Abidal's example gives the team strength and I'm sure Tito's case will do the same.

"It's not just an example to us but to the man in the street, proving that if you fight hard, everything will be fine.

"The best way to support him (Vilanova) is to keep moving forward. It is a severe blow but we must get up and keep on playing. This team has always done that and will do so again.''

No date has yet been put on a return for Abidal but sporting vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu revealed a new contract is on the table.

He told Marca: "The renewal of Abidal's contract is drafted and, when he plays in his first game, he will sign.''

Mid-table Valladolid have acquitted themselves well on their return to the top flight and sit comfortably in midtable.

One player especially keen to make his mark against Barca will be defender Marc Valiente, who joined the Catalan club at the age of 10 and spent a decade there.

He captained sides featuring the likes of Lionel Messi but was unable to break into the first team and left for Sevilla in 2008 before joining Valladolid in the summer of 2010.

He told Barca TV: "Playing against Barca reminds me of things, they taught me to play football and educated me as a person, but now (Valladolid coach Miroslav) Djukic has instilled in us our own philosophy.''

Valiente, meanwhile, sent his best wishes to Vilanova, saying: "I hope he recovers soon. These things put football in the background and hopefully he can come back.''