Paco Alcácer is sick of hearing about how he hasn’t scored for Barcelona. And after tonight’s win against Borussia Mönchengladbach, Alcácer hasn’t gotten that particular monkey off his back.
But, he did get his first assist for Barcelona, and in fact, played his best match overall since his transfer from Valencia.
Being fair, Alcácer has lacked playing time. But there was little to excuse his performances, which were completely lacking.
It wasn’t so much that he was missing some big chances - and he was - but that he looked like a passenger in Barcelona’s offense. He made the wrong runs, the wrong choices, and often, it didn’t even look like he was doing anything.
Tonight, he was far from dominant, but he grew into the game. And just like the problem was not that he wasn’t scoring, but that he was lacking involvement in the play, today the tonic was not that he assisted, but that he looked sharper overall.
Let’s compare his match against Málaga to this one.
Chances created: 1 | Assists: 1 | Shots/OT: 1/1 | Passes: 28 | Pass Success: 84% | Touches: 36
Chances created: 1 | Assists: 0 | Shots/OT: 2/0 | Passes: 13 | Pass Success: 61.5% | Touches: 18
The numbers are pretty clear. We saw Paco a lot more involved in the build-up, and while that is partly to do with Barcelona playing better overall, it was in large part because he was fitting into the offense a lot better.
It was far from a perfect performance, but it’s a heck of a lot more encouraging than we’ve seen before.
Watch his runs for the first two Arda Turan goals and how open Turan is after Paco draws attention to himself. And watch in the last goal as he actually comes back and helps build the play, before moving onto the right and cutting the ball back in.
I don’t want to oversell it like it’s the work of genius, but it’s a marked improvement from games prior.