Barcelona played Real Valladolid at home to get over their loss to Rayo Vallecano. It was thought that this would be a tough game because the other team likes to sit back and drop deep into their own half.
Even though it was expected to be hard, Barcelona beat their opponents by working very hard.
Barça beat their opponents 4-0 on a memorable night at the Nou Camp. Robert Lewandowski scored twice, and Pedri Gonzalez and Sergi Roberto each scored twice.
Join Barca Universal as we talk about three things we learned from the exciting game in this piece.
- Right back Jules Kounde
Xavi Hernandez has made it clear that he does not trust Sergino Dest to play for the team, whether at right-back or left-back. The Spanish player would much rather play a center back than the American.
Before last night, it wasn’t clear how well the Puppet Master’s experiment would work. Ronald Araujo had trouble making an impact, and when he had the ball, he often made careless mistakes that put Barca in danger.
All of these problems went away when Jules Kounde was in charge. Even though it wasn’t his role, the French player did a great job both on and off the field. His passes were always on point, making it easier for his midfielders and defenders to move the ball.
Kounde was again good off the ball. Because he was so good at defense, whenever he had to track back into the defense, he did so with perfect timing and good decisions. His defensive performance is summed up by the goal line clearance he made.
Even though, in an ideal situation, no one would have to play out of place, Dest still doesn’t have a replacement. It looks like Kounde will be the man until then. Let’s hope he does well in his next game at right back, which will be against his old team.
- Wings of magic fly high
A little less than two years ago, Barcelona’s biggest problem was their wings. The Blaugrana only had Ousmane Dembele, who was often hurt, and Ansu Fati, who replaced him, soon had the same problems.
Even though the club has had a rough history, Raphinha and Dembele form one of the best wide partnerships of any club in Europe. The two players lit up the Camp Nou and helped Barca score three of its four goals.
The Brazilian made his opponents look weak the whole time. Raphinha used his mesmerizing footwork to move through the purple and white defense and get past his opponents.
His help was beautiful in and of itself. He gave Robert Lewandowski in the far post a perfectly weighted pass, giving him the best chance to score on the volley.
Dembele, on the other hand, made the Valladolid defense a mess, which earned him two assists.
The French player kept cutting in and out of the box, which made the other team’s defense confused. He helped set up two goals and had a couple of shots on goal himself because of these moves.
His opponents were scared just by being around him, which is exactly what you want from your winger.
Most of the time, you wouldn’t expect this pair to work, but Xavi Hernandez’s dynamic duo did a great job of threatening the other team’s goal. Next week against Sevilla, we can expect more of the same strange play.
- Can Garcia and ter Stegen be “redeemed”?
Several Barcelona players did not have their best years last year. Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Eric Garcia were two of them. Fans used to make fun of them a lot because of how they played, but that has stopped.
Ter Stegen has started over, and at least in these first few games, he has shown that he is back to his best. People with better eyesight could have seen signs of this rebirth earlier this year, when his shape and ability to save came back under Xavi Hernandez.
Between FBRef and Fotmob, the German has given up 3 expected goals on shots that hit the post and has only let one ball get past him. Barca’s worst times didn’t have form like this, so they will be glad to have ter Stegen back to his best.
Eric Garcia, on the other hand, has started to live up to the promise he showed when he came from Manchester City.
Aside from the obvious benefits of his great passing, the Spanish international was there to defend bravely throughout the whole game. His play now reminds me of what Gerard Pique did last season.
Even though it’s still early, if this team’s defensive cores keep playing like this, Barcelona has a lot to look forward to.
Ter Stegen and Eric Garcia’s efforts to get back on track are well under way, as are Barcelona’s efforts to become the best team in Spain.