Osasuna was always going to be a tough place to go.
Though our record against the team from Pamplona is favourable, going to El Sadar has always been one of the away fixtures that has been approached with a degree of trepidation.
Things didn’t look good when Nelson Semedo went walkabout within the first six minutes, allowing Roberto Torres to bury an unstoppable volley.
In truth, at that point, Barca were at sixes and sevens, and looked nothing like reigning champions.
Nothing that transpired in the rest of the first half - a 45 minutes where the Blaugranes didn’t even have a shot on goal - gave even a hint that the visitors could get something from the game.
They were poor. No, they were worse than that.
Two changes from Ernesto Valverde changed the course of the match, but it will have left many asking why the players that came on, Ansu Fati and Arthur Melo, didn’t start the game.
— Arthur vs Osasuna (after 80 days of no playtime):— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) August 31, 2019
37 minutes played
96% pass accuracy
2 key passes
1 big chance created
4/4 succesfull dribbles
6/8 duels won
It is time to understand that this man is key. pic.twitter.com/2lwxXNjVTM
Both like to play at a decent tempo and on the front foot, and whilst the club has to be sensible where the 16-year-old is concerned, he showed that playing in the Spanish top flight doesn’t faze him.
A goal within six minutes meant that he became the club’s youngest ever league scorer, taking the accolade from Bojan Krkic who scored on his debut... against Osasuna.
Arthur’s introduction changed the game.
Arthur Melo is having his best game of his career with Barcelona so far. This was one of my favorite game of his. He is on fire today. This performance definitely tops the one against Spurs but that was also good. Mesmerizing passes and superb goal.— madan (@Antoineability) August 31, 2019
How on earth the midfielder has gone from a player who was one of the first names on the team sheet last season to be a sub in this, is anyone’s guess.
Once on the pitch, the Brazilian took control. Short, sharp passes, not unlike we were used to seeing with Xavi.
Let’s not go overboard on that particular comparison, but it was obvious that the team looked much more cohesive with the Brazilian at the hub of everything.
For him to then grab his first official goal for the club, with a fine finish it must be said, was a just reward for his effort.
We all know that Valverde is the most conservative of managers, but even he must’ve seen how moribund Barca were as an attacking threat in the opening half, and the difference that Arthur made when coming on.
— The last time Arthur Melo played, was 80 days ago. pic.twitter.com/6tpFPs0tf3— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) August 31, 2019
Unless he’s injured whilst away on international duty, there’s no logical reason why he shouldn’t start the next match against Valencia.
And let’s hope we never hear his name mentioned with regards to swap deals and transfers again.