Barcelona after a disappointing draw in their opening game against Rayo bounced back in style at Anoeta. Barcelona had a tricky away game against Sociedad this weekend.
3 goals inside 10 minutes in the second half helped Barcelona to secure their first win and much-needed 3 points in Laliga. Even though Barcelona won, the overall performance lacked lustre and fluidity which is what Catalans are known for.
A brace from Lewandowski and goals from Fati and Dembele did the job for Xavi’s men on the night. But after 2 games Barcelona looks scratchy enough. If Barcelona wants to give Madrid a run for their money in their title defence then they need to get back to their free-flowing version very soon.
Keeping in mind their timid performance yet a much-needed win in Matchday 2. Let’s look at a few talking points from the Barcelona vs Real Sociedad game.
Talking points from Barcelona vs Real Sociedad Game
1. Ansu Fati: The Hero
Fati when broke onto the scene he was regarded as the next big thing. Some were critical of that fact. But if you carefully watch the match you will see every time he comes onto the field. He offers something different to that Barcelona attack.
The Youngster came from long-term injury and faced stiff competition from the world’s best players on that left wing role yet against Sociedad he was the difference maker. He came on the 63rd minute replacing Ferran Torres and within 2 minutes he combined with Dembele and provided him with a beautiful back heel pass assist and Dembele made it 2-1.
Before Sociedad could realize what had hit them he combined with Lewandowski for Barcelona’s third goal. To put the cherry on the cake he scored Barcelona’s 4th goal from a beautiful assist by the Polish striker to make it 4-1. The game completely turned in Barcelona’s favour from the time Fati came on. He was the difference maker in the match.
2. Tactical Experiment Unsuccessful
Barcelona even got the result they wanted but Xavi tactically had a dreadful night. Xavi chooses to opt for the back 3 formations going against the traditional 4-3-3 system of Barcelona. Players were played out of position where they struggled to keep pace with the game.
Barcelona’s team performance appeared to be weaker as a whole than the sum of its individuals’ individual performances. Three at the back defence was a good idea but on the pitch, it left out too many open spaces and Sociedad exploited it every time in the first half.
Another point was Balde and Dembele had to fill in for that wingback position. Balde was decent enough but Dembele struggled at times defensively. Overall that Dembele Araujo combo on the right isn’t clearly working for Barcelona.
Even the midfield of FDJ- Gavi- Pedri combined struggled to play especially in the double pivot system. Both Gavi and Pedri keep rotating alongside De Jong but struggle to adapt to that position. Talking about De Jong initially he was playing solo CDM which he hasn’t played for ages. He too struggled a lot and lost possession at a crucial point which indeed led to only Sociedad’s goal in the match.
3. The Bench Strength
The game appears hopeless for the opponent when they have to face a starting line-up that includes players like Lewandowski, Dembele, and Torres and a bench that has Raphinha, Aubameyang, and Fati.
Unlike last season when Catalan fans wondered who would score for them. This season they have multiple options from the bench. Xavi has got ample options for who can turn the game around from the bench. Barcelona can start with 6-7 different start-front 3 combinations all equally effective in front of the games.
4. The Right Back Puzzle needs to be solved
With Xavi discarding Dest only genuinely right back at Barcelona. They need to bring in someone for that position. Xavi tried Araujo in that position in the first game where he struggled a lot, especially going forward. Araujo suits more as a centre-back than as a full-back. Even in this game, he played as a right-sided centre-back / right wing-back; he was left exposed.
If Dest isn’t Xavi’s plans anymore then Barcelona cannot rely on Sergio Roberto and Ronald Araujo to be makeshift right back. They need to seriously think of bringing someone who is genuine right back and who is pacey enough as Barcelona full-backs needed to go up and down the flank more often than others.
5. Rise of Alejandro Balde as left back option
One of the biggest positives from the game for Barcelona was their youngster Balde stepping up. After seeing Jordi Alba’s below-average performance last week, Xavi decided to put Balde on that left flank as left back/ left wing back.
With Ferran Torres dropping deep behind Lewandowski as the attacking minefield. Balde had the entire left flank in front of him. The youngster performed admirably. He was pacey enough to go up and down the flank on various occasions.
Attacking wise he was a threat from that left flank all the time. It didn’t take young Balde to have an impact on the game. He burst onto open space on that left flank carrying the ball himself. He kept on running till he could find perfect space to set Lewandowski up for his first Barcelona goal by providing an excellent assist with the iconic cutback tactic that Barcelona’s Jordi Alba uses. Defensively he was well equipped as well. He kept Isak in check all the game.
Overall Balde had a very good game and seeing him perform in this manner will certainly put Barcelona’s board in thinking about whether they at all need left back-up for Jordi Alba. As they can trust this young kid for that role after tonight’s performance.
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