Laliga 2019/20: 3 talking points from Barcelona's frustrating draw vs Osasuna
After an impressive 5-2 win over Real Betis at the Camp Nou, FC Barcelona travelled to Pamplona to face the newly promoted Club Atlético Osasuna. The fixture was deemed to be tricky as the Catalan side dropped points on two occasions in the last four games at the stadium.
Still missing the injured big guns in the attack, Barcelona fielded the same team that started the previous week against Betis.
For the third match in a row, Barca conceded first. Roberto Torres scored an impressive volley off an excellent cross from Brandon Thomas much to the eerie of a sleepy Barca defence. It took a whole half and two substitutions for Ernesto Valverde's side to get back into the game.
16-year-old Ansu Fati and Arthur Melo scored two fantastic goals much to the satisfaction of the Cules. Their joy was short-lived as Gerard Pique conceded a penalty for the home side to draw the game level.
Here are three talking points from the match:
#1 Arthur Melo changed the game
Arthur Melo was substituted in for a shaky Rafinha in the 53rd minute by Ernesto Valverde. He quickly got into the game by playing short passes and breaking opposition lines. The Brazilian was influential in moving the ball up the pitch and brought the much-needed calmness in the midfield. Melo scored his first official Barcelona goal which brought them ahead for the first time in the match.
Despite playing zero minutes in pre-season and the last two matches, he never looked out of place. His sumptuous through ball to Carles Perez would have been the icing on the cake for his performance if only Perez had converted it.
#2 Ernesto Valverde still fine-tuning his tactics
Last season, Valverde played Ivan Rakitic next to Sergio Busquests almost as a double pivot. Busquests' form dipped as he likes to play as a single pivot without anyone occupying his zones in the midfield.
This season, to bring the best out of Barcelona's puppet master, Valverde moved the other two midfielders up the pitch and has been playing Busquests as a lone pivot. The Spaniard has been impressive in both the games he played holding the midfield together. Rakitic, with both age and compatibility to the new system not on his side, has played only 45 minutes this season.
But, till the introduction of Arthur Melo, the Barca midfield suffered especially, Frenkie de Jong. Deployed on the left of the midfield three, de Jong frequently lost possession and often misplaced passes and failed to read the pace of the game. Upon the introduction of Arthur, he shifted to the right of midfield, and the Catalans started to dictate terms.
Antonie Griezmann, deployed in false nine like last week looked isolated upfront for most of the game. With the wingers hugging the touchline, it was difficult for the Frenchman to do his traditional link-up plays and one-touch passing.
#3 La Masia kids impress again but still a long way to go
16-year-old Ansu Fati made history as he became the youngest ever to score for Barcelona. He scored within minutes and got his side back into the game. But after his goal, the emotions must have got to him as he played underwhelmingly. Showing flashes of his skill, he has still a lot to improve and will be an essential part of the Barcelona squad in the future if groomed correctly.
Carles Perez had another memorable outing only to be dispirited by his glaring miss towards the closing minutes. He assisted both the goals and played the whole match for the first time in his senior career. Talented and promising, he needs to work on his decision making. The 21-year-old failed to pick runs of his teammates on several occasions and often missed the chance to run onto the space vacated by Antonie Griezmann.
Still young, these kids have plenty of time to improve and will do by regularly featuring for the first team gaining the much-needed experience.
The Catalans go into the international break having dropped four points in three matches of the new season. Lots of issues still exist within the club on both management and tactical level. The Cules can only hope after the two-week break everything will be cleared and they can start fresh and recharged.