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Barcelona vs Real Valladolid | LaLiga Santander: Koeman: This performance was far from Barcelona’s level

Ronald Koeman acknowledged that his Barcelona side weren’t quite at their best as they beat Real Valladolid 1-0 on Monday evening, courtesy of a late Ousmane Dembele strike.

The visitors were plagued by absences and spent the last 10 minutes playing with a man fewer than the Catalans, but it took a late goal from the Frenchman to get Koeman‘s side over the line.

“We lacked a lot in the first half,” Koeman said afterwards.

“We didn’t press them very well. I saw a slow, tired Barcelona from the start.

“We didn’t control the game. So we changed the system and improved in the second half.

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“It was a difficult game and we were some way off our level. Real Valladolid did a good job defensively, but you have to know how to suffer and I think we deserved to win.”

Despite the complications, the Dutchman was happy to see his side win without being at their best.

“The guys showed that they are capable of winning,” Koeman said.

“You have to have freshness in the team. I didn’t see that and maybe it’s because of the internationals, but we’re capable of winning.

“At times you are lucky, and at others you’re unlucky. But the mentality of the team has to be highlighted because they didn’t stop looking for three points.

“We had a bit of luck at the end of the game. But I was calm, I was more worried in the first half because I saw a very different team compared to recent games. We improved in the second half and created chances. They showed they can win without playing well.”

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Dembele is finally enjoying an injury-free run at the Camp Nou and he continues to prove his importance to the team.

“He’s an important player,” Koeman said of the Frenchman.

“He has shown that with his performance and goal and he gave us the three points.

“He’s had a very good season, he has improved a lot. Regularity has been the key for him.”

Refusing to get drawn into a comment on the countless controversial decisions made, including one which sent Real Valladolid down to 10 men and another that led to the winning goal, Koeman turned his attention to next week’s Clasico against Real Madrid.

“It’s always an important match,” Koeman said.

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“Even more so now, considering the situation. A good result would be important for the title race.”

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