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Barcelona 4-0 Real Valladolid: Lethal Lewandowski strikes twice in routine win

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Robert Lewandowski struck a brace for the second game in a row as Barcelona strolled to a comfortable 4-0 win against Real Valladolid.

The game saw Jules Kounde make his long-awaited debut for the club following his move from Sevilla, having had his registration postponed, but it was another of Barcelona’s marquee additions who stole the show.

Poland international Lewandowski struck in both halves of Sunday’s contest at Camp Nou, a poacher’s finish at the far post for his first and a deft backheel for his second.

Pedri and Sergi Roberto were also on the scoresheet for Xavi’s side, who stand unbeaten in LaLiga with seven points from a possible nine.

The hosts started strong but were foiled by the frame of the goal, Lewandowski heading into the post before Ousmane Dembele smashed a ferocious effort against the crossbar.

A breakthrough came after 24 minutes, though, Lewandowski on hand at the far post to stab home Raphinha’s inviting cross.

It was two before the break, Pedri finding space around the penalty spot to comfortably steer Dembele’s pass beyond the helpless Jordi Masip.

Barcelona’s dominance continued in the second period, boasting 66 per cent possession on the hour mark, and, while fans had to be patient for a third goal to capitalise on their dominance, it was worth the wait.

Dembele cut inside from the right to tee a pass through to Lewandowski, who expertly backheeled a finish past his marker and the keeper – taking his tally to four goals in three matches for his new side.

Lewandowski was denied a hat-trick in stoppage time, striking the frame of the goal from close range, but Sergi Roberto was on hand to tuck away the rebound.

What does it mean? Barcelona finding their feet

Starting the season with a scoreless streak from the end of last term’s disappointing end, a drab goalless draw with Rayo Vallecano on the opening weekend was a major issue. Another shutout in this game would have equalled the club’s worst-ever goalless streak at home in LaLiga.

Immediate suggestions were that there was nothing to worry about, striking the post twice before Lewandowski broke the deadlock and on another day the Poland forward may well have been celebrating a hat-trick.

Another sign of encouragement will be Raphinha’s assist, his first for the club, with the Brazilian slowly growing into life at Catalonia. Crucially, the coming of form for the hosts occurs just over a week before the Champions League campaign kicks off.

Dembele’s creative burst

Barcelona’s plethora of acquisitions in the transfer window has dominated the conversation around the club but the best piece of business may well have been securing Dembele to a new contract, the Frenchman finally living up to the hype following his lucrative move from Borussia Dortmund.

Now 25 and five years into his Barcelona career, Dembele’s numbers stack up. In 2022, he has registered 13 assists in the league, two of which came against Sunday’s opponents, and no player in Europe’s top-five leagues has more in the same period.

Right-side reliance

Starting on the left, Dembele’s average position came in a more central area alongside Lewandowski, with Raphinha sticking down the right – which was clearly Barcelona’s preferred route of attack.

Forty-three per cent of the hosts’ attacks came down the right, compared to 30.5 per cent on the opposing side, which may leave Xavi’s men exposed against more challenging opponents.

Key Opta Facts

– Barcelona have won 15 of their past 16 meetings with Real Valladolid in LaLiga (D1) in a run stretching back to March 2014.

– Barca have won each of their past nine home games against Real Valladolid in LaLiga, averaging more than three goals per game during this streak (3.4).

– Xavi’s side have scored eight goals in their past two LaLiga clashes (4-1 v Real Sociedad and 4-0 v Valladolid), as many as in their previous nine matches in the competition.

– Pedri has scored three goals in his past five LaLiga matches, as many as in his previous 40 matches in the competition.

– Lewandowski has scored at least two goals in six matches across Europe’s top five leagues in 2022 – four times with Bayern Munich and twice with Barca – which is only matched by Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe.

What’s next?

Barcelona travel to struggling Sevilla on Saturday, while Real Valladolid host Almeria the following Monday.

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