Ansu brings smiles back to Barca
There’s no doubt that Barcelona have had a rollercoaster 2020, and there are probably still more twists and turns to come. Yet one player who continues to bring joy and hope for the future is 17-year-old Ansu Fati.
The teenager broke records all over the place last season and was the star of the show again on Sunday. He smashed home Barca’s first goal of the season, coolly added a second a few minutes later and even won a penalty before the first half was up too.
Ansu Fati's game by numbers vs. Villarreal:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 27, 2020
83% pass accuracy
10 touches in the opp. box
3 take-ons completed
2 chances created
2 fouls won
1 penalty won
17 years old. Unreal. pic.twitter.com/jyTlm0ySOc
Fati’s goals put Barcelona on the way to a comfortable win in their opening game and helped get their season off to a great start. Thoughts of Luis Suarez, who had earlier enjoyed a goalscoring debut with Atletico, were quickly forgotten and for once a Barcelona win wasn’t all about Messi.
Koeman makes his presence felt
Ronald Koeman’s first competitive game in charge of Barca couldn’t have gone much better. His team scored four times, had the game won by half-time and even managed a clean sheet too.
It’s no surprise Koeman was beaming after watching his new-look team dismantle a pretty poor Villarreal side.
There will, of course, be much, much toughter tests to come but this was a promising start to the Koeman era. There was plenty of young talent on the pitch, Philippe Coutinho shone, Lionel Messi scored and Ousmane Dembele made his first La Liga appearance November 2019.
Busquets heading for the bench?
Koeman’s arrival has also brought a new system which will take some getting used to. Sergio Busquets played alongside Frenkie de Jong in the double pivot and had a pretty horrible first half.
The 32-year-old frequently gave the ball away and was careless in possession. He did improve as the game wore on and somehow even looked as though he was going to net Barca’s fourth until Pau Torres did the job for him.
Yet with Miralem Pjanic now at the club following his move from Juventus it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see Busquets heading for the bench. Pjanic had a decent cameo off the bench and will provide serious competition for a starting spot alongside De Jong.
Debuts for Barca’s new-boys
Barcelona’s healthy lead allowed Koeman to hand his new signings debuts on Sunday. Youngsters Pedri and Francisco Trincao, fresh from being handed first-team squad numbers, were given a little run out in the second half and will be hoping for more.
There has been a bit of speculation about Pedri going out on loan this season, but it seems as though Koeman has been convinced enough to give the 17-year-old a chance to impress with the first team.
Trincao also came on and looked sharp during his brief time on the pitch. A congested fixture list means the 21-year-old could be handed plenty of opportunities to stake a claim this season.
Meanwhile, Miralem Pjanic was also handed his first La Liga minutes after replacing Busquets for the final 10 minutes or so. A first La Liga start for the 30-year-old may not be too far away.
Messi scores for 17th straight season
Sunday’s win also saw another goal for Messi, the 17th season in a row in which he’s scored in La Liga, something that looked like it might not happen a few weeks ago after he’d told Barca he wanted to leave.
The captain netted from the penalty spot and could have had a few more but was denied on several occasions by Villarreal goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo. Even so, he moves closer to Pele’s all-time record of goals scored for a single club and is now just eight behind.
Pictured: 3 goals and an assist pic.twitter.com/oUrHldz8tu— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) September 27, 2020
Messi may not be completely happy at Barca right now, and his Instagram message to Luis Suarez last week made that fact all too clear, but it’s certainly not going to affect his work on the pitch.
The captain is likely to need a lot of convincing to stay at the Camp Nou, but Sunday’s performance will have helped and it was certainly felt good to see him smiling again in a Barcelona shirt.