La Liga : 3 talking points from Barcelona’s thumping win over Valencia
La Liga resumed this weekend after a two-week-long international break. Holders FC Barcelona hosted Valencia CF as a mouth-water clash. Ernesto Valverde named La Masia prospects, Ansumane Fati and Carles Perez in the starting line-up. In addition, fans began to see Arthur Melo, Sergio Basquats and Frenki de Jong together for the first time.
The match began with fireworks as the 16-year-old Fati scored within two minutes and provided a stunning assist to De Jong for seven minutes. Kevin Gameiro pulled one back for the visitors as the game went two goals into the half.
Right from the break, Catalans looked positive and completed the third courtesy of Gerard Pique. Luis Suarez rested after his injury as a substitute and joined the party and scored two more for the Blaugranas. Maxi Gomez scored her first goal for Los Chase, which unfortunately was only a consolation as the match scored five goals for two.
Here are three things from the game:
#1 Ansu Fati, the gift that keeps on giving
Youngest player to score and assist in a La Liga
Anssumane Fati scored once again for Catalans, this time making his first start as a Barcelona player. He became the youngest player to score and assist in a La Liga match. At just 16 years old, Fati has shown maturity beyond his age and fits easily into Barcelona‘s strategic setup. Coming through the ranks of La Masia, he has learned the Barca way of playing as shown by his perfect run to his goal.
Playing in front of 81,000 spectators at Camp Nou did not make the young players under pressure. With confidence, he scored superb runs and always tried to pick a defender. His first senior team assist came when he took Ezekiel Garay and cut an excellent cross into the net for De Jong.
Not afraid to take his shots, he tested Jasper Cilleson on several occasions. Due to the adrenaline rush, he captured one or two times as he tried to move on. However, it is only natural that a winger deviates the ball while dribbling. Given his age, he is only going to improve and possibly become an important player for Barcelona in the future.
#2 A midfield that works
Ernesto Valverde gave Arthur Mello his first start after an impressive cameo against Osasuna. Arthur occupied the left midfield spot with De Jong in the right midfield and Sergio Busquets. Cules was visually excited to see the possibility of three technically sound midfielders running the cases in between.
Buskets were at their best, continuing their form on behalf of the national team. He stood tall, interrupted loose balls and did what was necessary to regain possession. Arthur and de Jong complemented the Spaniard and made outstanding contributions to the attack. The Dutchman completed all his passes and all his dribbles. His best match yet was in the Blaugrana colors.
The three skillfully pressed on in the opposition half, winning the lost balls to keep up the pressure. Arthur excelled in this regard, always on the heels of his rival. Valverde would have now found the right midfield combination for his best eleven.
#3 Leaky defense still an issue
Barcelona have made the worst start to their La Liga campaign defensively since 2000/01. They have allowed seven goals in just four matches, keeping no clean sheet in the process. Barsa dominated for the first 25 minutes, conceding a simple defense-sharing off Rodrigo‘s ball. In the finishing stages of the match, the Catalan defense unnecessarily switched completely to allow a second goal.
The full-backs leave an acre of space to protest exploitation when they step into the ground. The center-back does not have the pace to catch up with the runners. Because of this, Blaugranus achieved a lot of targets through counter-attacks. Center-backs are often to blame for leaving too much space between them to resist exploitation. With a high defensive line, both Pique and Lenglet should be on their feet.
After being injured for six weeks, Barcelona should be wary of their center-back assignment. Living with Langlet following a stiff challenge from Maxi Gomez caused concerns at Barca’s back, but fortunately, nothing was serious. With inexperienced Todibo on the bench, the depth in defense is very thin.
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