Barcelona’s title bid was hit after absorbing an upset at Valladolid.
Barca’s title defense took a blow when it stumbled to a 1-0 defeat at Valladolid and missed the chance climb to the top of the Spanish La Liga standings.
It was one of Barca’s worst performances of the season, particularly during an atrocious first half when Juventus cast-off Fausto Rossi scored the winner for the home side in the 17th minute, and raised serious doubts about their form ahead of Wednesday’s (Thursday, PHL time) Champions League last 16, second leg at home to Manchester City.
Lionel Messi was the only Barcelona player who looked sharp, while his teammates were plagued by uncharacteristic passing errors and again proved brittle at the back.
Barcelona has won just two of its last seven away league games, and leader Real Madrid can increase its one-point advantage over the Catalan club when it hosts Levante on Sunday.
Barca slipped to third with 63 points and Atletico Madrid climbed into provisional first place thanks to a 2-0 win at Celta Vigo when former Barca forward David Villa struck twice in two minutes to improve his chances of making Spain’s World Cup squad. Real and Atletico each have 64 points, with the latter top due to a superior head-to-head record over their city neighbors.
Valladolid climbed out of the relegation zone into 17th.