In a season where Barcelona remain unbeaten in La Liga there’s been very little to complain about for fans of the Catalan club but despite the team’s success there’s still something missing.
Against Girona, that something materialised. It came in the form of six brilliant goals and a football team that once again resembled the Barcelona we’ve all come to know and love.
It would be easy to put the phenomenal performance down to Barcelona’s iconic duo of Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez, and whilst both men were indeed the star performers inside the Camp Nou, it was the contributions of the Blaugrana’s newest signings that added the extra flair needed to turn what could have been a close fought affair into an impressive rout.
Ousmane Dembélé’s arrival at Barcelona last year was received with much fanfare, and rightly so. The French youngster is a superstar in the making but his injury-ridden start left many with a sour taste in their mouths. Against Girona though, Dembélé added some sweetness to the palate of Barça fans. He showed just why he was so highly sought after.
It was the second half of play that saw him officially come-of-age. He displayed a sublime first touch; dribbling skills that wouldn’t look too out of place in a Ronaldinho highlight video and passing that showed the kind of vision reserved for players with vastly more experience than what the 20-year-old possesses.
There’s little doubt that Dembélé will take immeasurable amounts of confidence from such a display but it wasn’t only the Frenchman that proved his worth to the squad in the goal-filled affair.
Brazil’s Philippe Coutinho was welcomed to Barcelona with no-less fanfare than his French counterpart but unlike Dembélé, his skills were thought to translate immediately to his new home and after a few early hiccups it seems the diminutive maestro is now finding his place.
Coutinho may well be thought of as a future replacement for club legend Andrés Iniesta but his performance against Girona will unquestionably be cause for future squad selection dilemmas for coach Ernesto Valverde.
Coutinho’s assist to Suarez for Barcelona’s fourth goal was a superb piece of play and his goal in the 66th minute was out of this world; a shot struck from well outside the box with such precision it felt as though the ball was equipped with some kind of high-tech missile guidance system.
The Blaugrana’s exquisite play against Girona has made it abundantly clear that Coutinho and Dembélé are paramount to the team’s success and just as importantly they figure as key components to a style of football that is almost expected from the Barcelona fans.
The only question now is who misses out in order for these two vital players to feature in what could become an attack that every team in world football envies?