Following a dramatic comeback in the late minutes of the game, Barcelona took all the 3 points from the El Sadar, securing the top spot in La Liga heading into the World Cup break. Even with one man down for the most part of the game, Xavi’s team has done an impressive job, and in the end, clinched the much-coveted victory.
Barca News Network brings you 4 key talking points after the euphoric win against Osasuna on the 15th matchday of La Liga.
1. Incredible comeback
The forecasts anticipated a tough game, based on Osasuna’s great form this season. Accordingly, the hosts started off the game well and took the lead in the 6′ minute with David García’s inch-perfect header. Things got even more difficult for the Blaugrana when, after a reckless challenge, Robert Lewandowski was sent off, claiming his second yellow card in just 31 minutes into the game.
However, Xavi’s men did not give up and continued to fight with even more intensity and desire to make up the lost ground. As time went on, the increased tempo seemed to finally work in our favor, and we were getting more and more dangerous, leading to a disallowed goal in the dying minutes of the first half, among others.
The half-time, though, did not break the rhythm of the Catalan giants, and with just 3 minutes into the second half, Barcelona’s heroic efforts finally bore fruit as Pedri found the back of the net to level the score. In continuity, we remained the ones to threaten, but as time passed, the players, due to the increased intensity, started to get exhausted, and eventually, we were pushed back to defend in front of our goal.
Thus, for the final minutes, Osasuna totally pinned us back and exploited their numerical superiority effectively, and we had just a few chances to penetrate on the counter, but still, it was enough for the freshly subbed in Raphinha to beat the keeper with a great header from the edge of the box, following a magnificent assist from Frenkie de Jong from the halfway line. Thankfully, we managed to keep the score in proceedings and grab a heroic victory at the end of the day.
2. Another de Jong masterclass
Recently, one of the protagonists of Barça’s success has been Frenkie de Jong. The Dutchman, who was deemed as a costly surplus in the summer, has gradually become a crucial piece of the team, and especially with Gavi’s latest injury, he cemented his place in the Garnet and Blue midfield, occasionally also hopping into the pivot role, and performing well there too.
Once again, Frenkie showcased his terrifying talent, which, if used properly, has the blue sky as ceiling. His attacking contribution is noteworthy, his presence poses a constant threat to the opposition with and without the ball as well, either creating space and finding good positions with his eminent movement and footballing intelligence, while also excelling with the ball at his feet, with his impeccable technique and vision.
His utterly magnificent assist bore witness to his greatness, and once again, the Dutchman proved why he has a place in Barcelona’s team. With pinpoint accuracy, the 24-year-old played in a long ball on the bursting Raphinha’s head, who caught both the defenders and the keeper off-guard with his quick run behind the defense, and with a great header from the edge of the box, beat the keeper to score the winner for his team.
3. What happens with Ansu Fati?
Moving on to the attacking section, although there is the aforementioned Brazilian, who has been on a sensational form lately, just like his Spanish peer, Ferrán Torres, who continued to produce yet another strong performance but failed to crown it with a goal, I want to talk about one different player, the prodigy who has been put the weights of the legendary number 10 jersey on his shoulders, but since his horror injury, Ansu Fati seems not the same.
Indeed, his re-introduction in the team was more than cautious in order to prevent any kind of possible relapse and complication, but now, the time has finally come for him to take over his position in the starting lineup, however, he hasn’t done it yet, which raises questions about the ‘why’ of it. Of course, there are several factors that make Xavi prefer someone else over him, so let’s take a closer look at these.
At first, as I also mentioned earlier, the physical concerns shouldn’t be completely out of consideration, but his performances weren’t too convincing either. Usually, the Spanish youngster had produced a decent showing, however, still not as prominent as the likes of Ferrán Torres, Raphinha, and Dembélé. Indeed, it’s sad to see him just coming off the bench, but his potential hasn’t diminished, I believe he is still able to recover his good form and his place among the starters, however, the reality says that right now, he is not the number one option, requiring more work and dedication from him to improve further.
4. See you on New Year’s Eve
With this game, we have finally ended an extremely packed, burdensome period of the season, and now, even though they are free from their club duties, many players cannot have a rest as they are traveling to Qatar to participate in the strangely-timed World Cup, starting from the 20th of November.
Clearly, the circumstances are far from ideal, and the intense, one-month campaign inserted into an already exhaustive calendar is very challenging, both physically and mentally, at least the players will have some rest afterward too (La Liga is the better environment in that matter, as Premier League, for example, already resumes at the infamous Boxing Day).
Nevertheless, our favorites will return to action at the very end of December, two weeks after the final whistle in Qatar. It will be essential to recover well with the players coming from different environments, trained with different routines and levels of intensity at the different national teams.
The foreseeable injuries, something we are already struggling with, will play a huge role afterward, and the reality of a tournament of such caliber inserted into the regular season is something we haven’t seen before. After the World Cup, a new season begins, new challenges arise, and we should give 100% and even more to remain at the top. An exciting break ahead. Visca Barça