The headlines should be dominated by a quite exciting 16-year-old talent but Anssumane Fati’s first senior goal for Barcelona is not enough to deviate from the greater, disheartening picture.
Against a spirited Osasuna side, the Catalans slumped to a 2-2 draw away from home having conceded to a Roberto Torres volley as early as the seventh minute.
Fati’s introduction restored parity soon after the break and when another substitute in Arthur found the net, it looked as if Barca had recovered.
However, Gerard Pique’s handball led to a second for Torres as he converted his effort from the spot in the final 10 minutes.
Here, we look at the talking points from the draw.
BEST AND WORST OF VALVERDE
During stoppage time at El Sadar, the camera panned to Ernesto Valverde in the Barcelona dugout. The exasperated coach thumped the back of his head against his seat as his side lost possession with the scores level, though he may well have been frustrated with himself – or at least you’d like to think so.
An insipid first-half display seemed to go according to script with the Catalans failing to register a single shot on target by the break despite trailing for 38 minutes.
The visitors lacked any sort of spark or ingenuity with Lionel Messi absent from the squad again as he nurses a calf injury. The ‘Valverde Out’ brigade were in full swing on social media, and headlines casting his future in further doubt were no doubt being composed.
However, Valverde turned to his bench for inspiration. He threw on 16-year-old prodigy Fati at half-time and the move transformed the away team early in the second period. They started on the front foot and for the first time in the encounter, looked like the better team.
Fati delivered, scoring his maiden goal with a superb header and just like that, a new script was being written. It starred a teenage sensation inspiring his team to a comeback. The narrative was bolstered when another substitution made an instant impact. Arthur was brought in from the cold and in the heat of battle his composed finish put Barca ahead.
But Valverde couldn’t help himself and the revised script found the bin. He and Barcelona retreated into their shell, clinging on to a slender lead and paid the price. A late onslaught was fruitless and Valverde was again left to ponder his approach. Back at Camp Nou, you sense knives are being sharpened.
Ernesto Valverde illustrating how most Barcelona fans feel about Ernesto Valverde pic.twitter.com/Trt4YAGZg6— Jonas Giæver (@CheGiaevara) August 31, 2019
REMEMBER THE NAME
Amid the swirl of discontent and criticism, Barca fans will cherish the one positive to emerge from this disappointing result. Fati made another appearance and with it, a lasting impression as he bagged his first senior goal.
For a club that prides themselves on their famed La Masia academy, the production line has dried up of late and that’s why Fati’s emergence is so significant, especially at his age. In fact, when he made his debut at Camp Nou last week, Barca needed official permission from his parents to name him on their bench as underage players in La Liga aren’t allowed to feature in late-night games without parental consent.
Much has been said about Fati’s talent in the past week with even Messi particularly taking to the young star. Given the impact he had on this game, it’s easy to see why.
His introduction transformed the team’s approach in the second half. Rafinha dropped into midfield and Fati brought an x-factor to the left flank. He seemed raw but there were flashes of quality and he took his goal like a seasoned pro. Remember the name.
Ansu Fati is the first 16-year-old in Barcelona's history to score a LaLiga goal for the club.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 31, 2019
The third-youngest ever in LaLiga for any club. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/4cKHRxfbMN
BOOST FOR OSASUNA
The result on Saturday means it’s now just two wins for Barcelona in their last five trips to Osasuna. The Catalans have always flourished against the Basque outfit at Camp Nou but their struggles continued away from home.
For Jagoba Arrasate and his side, the draw gives them further encouragement that they belong in Spain’s top flight. They stormed to the Segunda title last season but two draws and a win from their opening three games in La Liga will have given their confidence a massive boost.
Plenty of challenges lie ahead but Osasuna can take plenty of positives from this performance. They played the champions – in form or not – and were quite possibly the better side, taking nearly twice as many shots as their more illustrious opponents (15 to 8).
Apart from a brief 15-20 minute period in the second half, the hosts were in control of proceedings. They were compact, hardworking and industrious in attack. They just need to push on from here now.
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