The goals finally flow for Ferran
Ferran Torres has been a little frustrating in front of goal recently but the goals finally flowed for the forward on Sunday against Osasuna at the Camp Nou.
The first came from the penalty spot after Gavi had been fouled but was expertly despatched as Ferran sent Sergio Herrera the wrong way with a low finish.
Seven minutes later another goal arrived. A simply gorgeous pass from Ousmane Dembele was gobbled up by Ferran who then slipped the ball through the keeper’s legs.
2 - Ferran Torres has scored his first brace in @LaLigaEN (78 appearances), netting twice with just four shots in the first half against Osasuna, having scored just one with his previous 16 attempts for Barcelona in the competition. Confidence. pic.twitter.com/4vUFhx0t8s— OptaJose (@OptaJose) March 13, 2022
“I said that the goals would come for Ferran,” said Xavi after the game. “He’s scored goals wherever he’s been: Valencia, City and with the Spanish national team. It was just a matter of time. I’m delighted with how he’s doing.”
Barcelona will now be hoping that Ferran can keep on in this vein, particularly with crunch games against Galatasaray and Real Madrid up next this week.
What is Barca’s best midfield?
Xavi made changes to his team for this match, leaving Ronald Araujo and Frenkie de Jong on the bench, and starting with a midfield of Sergio Busquets, Pedri, and Gavi.
The Barcelona coach is blessed with a host of options in the middle of the park but the trio absolutely thrived against Osasuna and made you wonder if this is the team’s best midfield?
It seems strange to say it, given Frenkie was missing, but the three players worked brillliantly together, albeit against limited opposition, and put on a show.
Gavi was probably the most eye-catching of the trio, running rings around Osasuna all night, but Busquets and Pedri ensured the hosts had complete dominance of the match.
Xavi’s team selections for Barca’s next two games will be interesting to say the least, but it’s certainly a very nice problem for the coach to have.
Dembele is Barca’s top assistant
Torres may have grabbed the headlines with his brace but Ousmane Dembele deserves huge praise for his contribution to the win.
The Frenchman laid Barca’s second goal on a plate for his team-mate and then went on to give his good mate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang another goal too.
Dembele also created countless other chances and thoroughly enjoyed himself against Osasuna, playing all 90 minutes for just the third time in La Liga this season.
After being dropped by Xavi in January, the stats show that the Frenchman is now thriving under the new boss.
| FOCUS— SofaScore (@SofaScoreINT) March 14, 2022
Ousmane Dembélé's Barcelona ranks since Xavi took over:
⏱️ 1024' played (9th)
✅ 9 goal involvements (1st)
️ 7 assists (1st)
8 big chances created (=1st)
32 key passes (2nd)
41 succ. dribbles (1st)
7.48 average SofaScore rating (1st)
Man in form. https://t.co/rL706Pb31x
Dembele now has seven assists in La Liga for Barcelona in 2021-22, matching Jordi Alba as the team’s top assister, and you get the feeling there’s plenty more still to come.
Of course question marks do remain over the 24-year-old, particularly over whether he can stay fit and where he’ll play next season, but on this kind of form he would certainly be a big miss if he did leave in the summer.
Auba is the gift that keeps on giving
Aubameyang’s goal for Barcelona was his fifth in just six league games for his new club since arriving on a free transfer in January and continues the great form he has shown so far at the Camp Nou.
Xavi explained before the match he had been left out of the starting XI to face Galatasaray because he was a little tired but the Gabon international certainly seemed fresh on Sunday against Osasuna.
5 - Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored five goals in six @LaLigaEN games, the second-fastest @FCBarcelona player to reach five goals in the competition in the 21st century, after Samuel Eto'o in 2004 and Zlatan Ibrahimović in 2009 (five goals in five apps). Ultrasonic. pic.twitter.com/gvjVcbECLs— OptaJose (@OptaJose) March 13, 2022
His performance also drew huge praise from Xavi after the match as Barcelona coach described the former Arsenal player as a “present that has fallen out of the sky.”
The 32-year-old looks a better signing by the day and, at the moment at least, is the gift that keeps on giving for Barcelona.
Riqui grabs a lifeline?
The icing on the cake of Sunday’s match was the sight of Riqui Puig not just actually playing some minutes for Barcelona but scoring his first goal at the Camp Nou for the Catalan giants.
Puig found himself on the scoresheet within minutes of his arrival. The 22-year-old saw a low shot saved but then followed up brilliantly to net Barca’s fourth of the night.
The smile on his face afterwards said it all as Puig’s patience was finally rewarded after a season spent predominantly on the bench. Again.
Puig’s future still remains very much uncertain, particularly with Pedri, Gavi and Nico around and it still seems the best option for him might be to leave in the summer if he wants to play regularly.
There has been speculation recently that Puig is starting to come round to the idea of a move away too but his goal could just offer him hope that his Barca career isn’t over just yet.