Barcelona will finish the weekend three points behind La Liga leaders Real Madrid thanks to a 2-1 win over Levante at the Greatest Stadium on Earth. The Blaugrana had a lot of the ball again but showed more attacking intent than the first few matches under Quique Setién, and young phenom Ansu Fati scored two important goals to clinch the victory and give Barça three big points.
It took a while for Barça to get into a rhythm early on as Levante looked solid and well organized with their low block, but after 15 minutes the Blaugrana started to find spaces and turned all of their possession into plenty of chances, with all three forwards moving and looking for each other and a lot of shots being fired at goal.
For Lionel Messi it was tough to find spaces close to the box to create chances for himself, so he decided to provide assists: his first was a masterful through ball from the halfway line to find Ansu Fati, and the youngster knocked the ball past the defender before scoring a really nice opener. Just a minute later Messi got another assist, and Ansu Fati was again on the receiving end before using his left foot to score the second goal.
Levante began pressing higher up the pitch to try and steal the ball close to Barça’s goal as they looked for an answer before the half, but Barça continued to pass the ball well and two more big chances with Semedo and Griezmann, but neither man could find the back of the net.
At halftime the hosts had all of the ball and were playing well, and it felt like the result was going to get even better in the final period.
Barça started the second half creating some good chances but also very sloppy in possession, which gave Levante at least two very dangerous opportunities on the counter that called Ter Stegen into major action. Quique Setién tried to fix the issue by bringing Sergi Roberto in place of a poor Antoine Griezmann as a wide midfielder to keep the ball better and for longer periods, and things stabilized as we entered the final 20 minutes.
The rest of the game was about two things for Barça: helping Ansu Fati complete his hat-trick, and helping Messi get on the scoresheet. The captain just could not find any way to get a shot off without one or two bodies from the opposition diving in front, while Ansu seemed a little two anxious to score his third goal and wasted a couple of good moments in the box.
Barça were happy with the win and just ran out the clock with more passes, but there was still time for Levante to score a goal through Rochina, however it was too late and the final whistle came to end a solid victory for the champions. This is still far from ideal and the defense is still bad no matter who the coach is, but it’s a good win. Special mention to Nélson Semedo, who was AWESOME tonight.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; De Jong (Arthur 79’), Busquets, Rakitic; Messi, Griezmann (Roberto 71’), Ansu Fati (Puig 86’)
Goals: Ansu Fati (30’, 31’)
Levante: Aitor; Miramón, Postigo, Vezo, Toño; Rochina, Melero (Hernani 59’), Vukcevic (Bardhi 79’), Campaña; Morales (Mayoral 59’), Martí
Goal: Rochina (90’+2)