La Liga defending champions FC Barcelona started their title defense at home with a hard earned victory of 2-0 over Cadiz, as last quarter goals from Pedri and Ferran Torres sealed the deal for the Blaugranas. The Catalan giants have played at their new home, Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys, as their den at Camp Nou is under renovation and is deemed unplayable till next two years.
FC Barcelona edges past Cadiz
FC Barcelona, the Spanish giants, who played out a stalemate last game against Getafe, opened their victorious account at their new home. Estadi Olimpic, which will stage Barca’s home games over the next two years. Although the victory was hard earned as Cadiz defensive setup including their custodian Conan Ledesma were brilliant in thwarting attacks from their hefty opponents, it was wonder midfielder Pedri who scored the first goal for Barca this season on the 82nd minute, thus breaking the drought of Barca’s goalless games, which was quickly followed by another counter from Barca’s new no.7, Ferran Torres, on the 94th minute, thus sealing the deal for Barcelona.
After the last stalemate, suspended coach Xavi was forced to make some changes to the starting eleven, and his brother Oscar was on the sidelines. Barcelona initially went with a 4-3-3 formation with new recruit Ilkay Gundogan and talented youngster Lamine Yamal were stationed on the flanks, as they were designated the responsibility of accompanying Lewandowski on the front. On the midfield it was a throng of Barcelona’s talented academy as Oriol Romeu was accompanied by the prodigal child Gavi and Pedri, as Frenkie de Jong, the new captain deployed himself on the defense in the absence of seasoned Araujo, with Christensen, Kounde and Balde completing the quartet. Cadiz went with their trademark 4-4-2 formation, with Marti and Alex up front.
Lamine Yamal set a milestone for becoming the youngest starter for Barcelona, at 16 years and 38 days, as he showcased his talent and skills during the minutes he played, with some clever run-ins and dribbles on the right flank.
FC Barcelona got plenty opportunities throughout the match. Owing to the exploits of Barca’s youngsters in the form of Yamal, Pedri, Gavi and Balde, they have penetrated the Cadiz defense quite a few number of times, as would have been the norm of going ahead. Lewandowski, seasoned striker and winner of the Pichichi last year, was on the money since the starting whistle, but failed to capitalize on several situations as the Catalan giants seem to lack that X-factor, which was provided by Raphinha and Dembele last season. With Dembele plying his trade for PSG and Raphinha in the stands for suspension, it was all on Barca’s youngsters to carry forward their team.
Although within the first few minutes, it was full Cadiz as they had grabbed several mouth-watering opportunities, before losing out to Barca’s wall, Marc Andre Ter Stegen. The Zamora trophy winner from last season and captain of the club was up on his feet and instrumental in thwarting several attacks from yellow shirts, whereas on the other side of the ground, his counterpart Conan Ledesma was spearheading Cadiz defense as he warded off several opportunities which came Barca’s way, thus poising the score line 0-0 at half time.
Pedri- the magician
Pedro Gonzalez alias Pedri, dubbed as Barcelona’s next Iniesta, has been one of the top players for Barcelona since the last few seasons. He has the caliber of playing everywhere on the ground, starting from defensive half to chipping away with valuable opportunities in front of the goal. Last night, he proved instrumental once again with his goal-scoring ability, as on the 82nd minute, he broke the deadlock with a swift pass from Barca’s latest star recruit Ilkay Gundogan. The Spaniard provided the run-in from right wing as he kept the ball in his possession, before passing it to midfield maestro Gundo, who further provided a world class assist with an out of the boot pass to Pedri, the youngster thus swirling the ball past Ledesma, into the Cadiz net. Finally, after 170 minutes, Barca could see the face of the goal for the first time this season, with Pedri-Gundo connection proving to be an asset for the club.
The star, after scoring a screamer, paid tribute to his homeland Tenerife, as his place is raging with wildfires, by holding a shirt where “Fuerza Tenerife” was scripted.
Ferran Torres- the new no.7
There had been a lot of hype before the season as a conundrum arose which was based on the availability of a player who will don the jersey no.7 for Barca. Its previous holder, Frenchman Ousmane Dembele had left the club to play for PSG, becoming the latest star to traverse the Barca-PSG corridor, after stalwarts Messi and Neymar. Suddenly, Ferran Torres’ name was suggested as the young Spaniard was not considered for a player in the first eleven for this season. So, the former Manchester City star Torres was given the responsibility of representing the ceremonious no.7 jersey for Barca, once graced by jewels like David Villa and Griezmann. Last night, after he was substituted, he had to play with lots of responsibility as he was asked to shoulder the responsibility of flaunting the Barca no.7, and he delivered to his expectations, as on the 94th minute, with a humongous assist from striker Lewandowski, Torres slotted home Barca’s second goal, thus killing the game at that moment.
Lamine Yamal- Barca’s latest jewel
Barcelona has always been the powerhouse for young talents over the last few decades. La Masia, the academy of the Catalans, has been on the headlines since many years, as it houses some of the biggest names in football. Starting from Lionel Messi to current gaffer Xavi, everyone had graced their presence in the academy, before making it big on the international scenario.
Over last few seasons, La Masia has been instrumental in picking up bright young minds from their academy who have eventually performed big on the world stage. Starting with Barca’s no.10, Ansu Fati to the prodigal Gavi, who is gracing the no.6 jersey once again, a shirt once represented by the biggest stalwart of the game, Xavi, Barcelona has been instrumental in introducing La Masia in the bigger scenario. Last season, it was Lamine Yamal, who had debuted for Barcelona at a tender age of 15 years, and last night, he etched his name in the record books when he was handed his first debut in the starting eleven, as he became the youngest starter for Barcelona at 16 years and 38 days.
Lamine Yamal- as people in Spain say, “Recuerda el nombre”, as he might be one of the biggest names in the future for Barcelona and Spain.