Yamal shines brightest amid the chaos
Barcelona and Villarreal played out a rollercoaster game on Sunday that saw the lead change hands on a couple of occasions and the visitors run out 4-3 winners.
It was a chaotic, at times very messy game, but amid it all 16-year-old Lamine Yamal shone the brightest on the right flank for Barcelona.
There’s been plenty of talk about Yamal already despite his tender years, but he’s living up to the early hype alright in the Barcelona first team.
Yamal grabbed his first assist to secure the opening goal for Barcelona through Gavi. A cross into the back post was met firmly by the teenager who directed a header back across goal and into the net.
1 - At the age of 16 years and 45 days, Lamine Yamal became the youngest player to assist a goal in a LaLiga game in the 21st century, surpassing teammate Ansu Fati (16 and 318) against Valencia in September 2019. Jewel. pic.twitter.com/K6cNEsXlpg— OptaJose (@OptaJose) August 27, 2023
As you can see, it’s a landmark moment for Yamal who is the youngest player to register an assist in La Liga this century.
There was much more though too and almost a first goal. A brilliant shot just before the hour mark smashed off the crossbar and flew away to safety.
He hit the post again at 3-3 with the rebound falling kindly for Robert Lewandowski to tuck home a much-needed goal and secure the three points.
Yamal was taken off late on and was all smiles as he sat on the bench after being applauded by both sets of fans as he went off.
A first ovation from Yamal in La Liga but surely not the last.
Barca’s backline gets in a mess
Barcelona’s backline was imperious last season and a key reason for the team’s title triumph which means it’s something of a surprise to see it in such a mess against Villarreal.
Ronald Araujo and Alejandro Balde were always going to be missed but Barcelona should have enough quality to cope without the duo far better than this.
The Yellow Submarine scored three times, and could have had a few more, as they opened up Barcelona time and again at La Ceramica.
Full-backs Sergi Roberto and Marcos Alonso both struggled, to the surprise of no-one, which makes Xavi’s utter faith in both veterans even more baffling.
“Their first goal is our fault, they can’t score like that from a corner,” said Xavi afterwards.
“The second goal is avoidable. The third is a counterattack ... From there, we played well. The team was patient, dominated and created a lot.
“In the end, I think we could have scored two or three more. I am satisfied, above all with the second half and how we attacked, but we have to improve defensively.”
And improve they must if they are get anywhere this season. On the plus side, the defence should be boosted this week by the arrival of Joao Cancelo to help solve the right-back problem.
Ferran finds his form
There’s no doubt at all that Ferran Torres has found himself in some form at the start of the season after a summer of speculation that he could leave.
Ferran has struggled to prove his worth at Barcelona but has made it clear on several occasions he’s willing to work his socks off to become a success at the Camp Nou.
And that hard work is hopefully paying off with Ferran shining in pre-season and continuing that form into the new campaign.
5 - Top 3 Barcelona players to score the most goals as a substitute in LaLiga under Xavi Hernández:— OptaJose (@OptaJose) August 27, 2023
5 - FERRAN TORRES
4 - Ansu Fati
3 - Luuk de Jong
Ferran came off the bench to seal the win over Cadiz last time out and inspired Barca to victory against Villarreal on Sunday by levelling the game and making it 3-3.
The goals won’t remove the question marks over whether Ferran can really go on and play a key role for Barcelona yet but will certainly offer hope he’s on the right track.
He also might just have played his way into contention to start against Osasuna in Barcelona’s final game before the international break next weekend.