With an hour gone at Signal Iduna Park, Barca had played 392 successful passes.
It was marginally better than their hosts and not necessarily in keeping with what we’ve come to expect from the Blaugranes.
Maybe that’s part of the problem… that we’re always looking to compare. With Pep’s Barca, with Luis Enrique’s Barca.
One player that could’ve played in either of those sides, and played a reasonable amount of those passes against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday night, was Arthur Melo.
16-year-old Ansu Fati will make his Champions League debut for Barcelona against Borussia Dortmund today pic.twitter.com/Z5JLCu9hTa— B/R Football (@brfootball) September 17, 2019
With the pre-match narrative focusing on Ansu Fati’s start, Leo Messi’s potential return and whether Luis Suarez would score a Champions League away goal for the first time in four years, Arthur was one who garnered little attention.
However, with only 10 minutes of the game gone, the Brazilian was running the show. Little give-and-gos, spraying the ball wide when needed, biting into the tackle…
Arthur Melo has been the best player on the pitch so far.— (@Calmeharry) September 17, 2019
Simply put, he was integral to everything good that Barca were doing.
There’s still a long way to go to justify the Xavi comparisons (ah there we go again), but he’s certainly going about things the right way.
To that end, alongside Frenkie de Jong, Arthur has to be a fixture in the Barcelona midfield from now on. It shouldn’t even be up for debate.
A lot has been written in the past, and continues to be written, about Ernesto Valverde, but he called it exactly right on the night.
Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitic are still consummate professionals and in most other teams they would be starters.
Man of the Match: Arthur Melo— zeba (@massistpk) September 17, 2019
They do bring something different, but with one eye on the future the best they can hope for from this point is a spot on the bench unless injuries dictate otherwise.
The issue last season, apparently, was that Arthur was unable to complete a full 90 minutes as he wasn’t used to the pace of the game at the highest level.
Still involved heading into the final minutes against Dortmund, that argument would’ve appeared to have been put to bed.
The other facet of his play that’s more noticeable now, is his preference to move forward and push on, rather than holding up play.
There’s more confidence and positivity from him and, longer term, that can only be a good thing.
I can’t close this article without speaking about Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Describe Marc-Andre Ter Stegen's performance in one word pic.twitter.com/IfE60j2UB0— Goal (@goal) September 17, 2019
How does Joachim Low sleep at night, playing Manuel Neuer rather than Ter Stegen in the national team.
An incredible penalty save, and other point blank stops mean that the point earned is as much because of his performance as Arthur’s.
The two standout performances in an otherwise relatively poor showing.