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Ansu provides the spark for Barcelona as Lewandowski celebrates his birthday in style

Brilliant substitute appearance

Real Sociedad v FC Barcelona - LaLiga Santander Photo by Ion Alcoba/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

All strikers thrive on service. That’s as true today as always, and it appeared to be the major issue that Barca were suffering from in the first 45 at the Reale Arena on Sunday night.

Robert Lewandowski is the best target man in Europe bar none and a player that thrives on getting on the end of either decent crosses into the box or crisp pass-and-moves.

Alex Balde’s attempt at a cross wasn’t really out of the top drawer, far from it in fact, but the Polish international sniffs out those chances and his movement for the first goal was first class.

So it does beg the question as to why the Sociedad box wasn’t peppered with the same before half time.

Ousmane Dembele’s wayward attempts were unfortunate, and Balde faded badly towards the end of the half.

It was a big call to leave Sergino Dest out of the line up again by Xavi, because the lack of a marauding right-back was clear for all to see at that point.

Think about it. How many goals came via the Dani Alves-Lionel Messi combination in the golden years?!

Get the right player to overlap Dembele and Lewandowski will feast in the majority of matches.

Even if Xavi decides that it’s the French World Cup winner that has enough in his locker to go and beat his direct opponent at will, Dembele clearly has to do better than he managed in the opening period at San Sebastián.

That said, what a cracking strike to give the visitors the impetus again after the break. A goal made possible by the inventiveness of substitute, Ansu Fati.

Real Sociedad v FC Barcelona - LaLiga Santander Photo by Ion Alcoba/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

The youngster has endured a torrid couple of years but more often than not he tends to be the difference maker in games. Some feat at just 19 years of age.

Another assist, this time for Lewandowski’s second of the game, knocked the stuffing out of the hosts, and he still wasn’t done.

His finish for the fourth was typical Ansu. A goal taker supreme but a goal maker too, and if he can help to continue to supply the bullets, it won’t just be Barca’s big summer signing that benefits.

I can’t finish this weekend’s column without a mention for Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

The German has had his critics but he was the saviour when Barca needed him once again. The finger tip save that he pulled off in the first half was incredible, and the one just before the hour from Moreno wasn’t half bad either. His distribution was top class too.

Sat behind a shaky defence, the keeper was the foundation which allowed Barca to build what was another fantastic away win against a tough opponent.

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