The victory against Real Sociedad revealed a lot about Barcelona and Ronald Koeman. Firstly, the 4-3-3 system is still the most suitable for the Catalans. Secondly, when they’re all on the same page and play as a unit, the Azulgranas are a more than competent squad who can compete for the La Liga title.
However, the third and the most important verdict from the game concerns an 18-year-old kid who’s slowly but surely becoming the real star of the team. Allow us to rephrase that — an 18-year-old kid who is the real star of the team. He might be just that — a kid —, but Pedri is taking the league by storm and Barcelona, hopefully, to new heights.
Without wanting to sound too sensationalist, the young midfielder saved the Catalans from a draw the other night against La Real. Of course, he did it through his incredible technique, understanding, and raw talent in the first place.
Because of him, Barcelona’s ball circulation improved rapidly, and they were able to recycle possession more efficiently, constantly finding pockets of space between the lines. Additionally, he gloats of movement, with and without the ball, both, way beyond his years.
Pedri knows where he has to be with eaxh passing minute in the game and will adjust accordingly and if necessary. Interestingly, with Koeman deploying him as an interior just ahead of the pivot and alongside Frenkie de Jong, the 18-year-old was given more freedom than ever before.
We could see him shift deeper or to more advanced areas, depending on the situation, and more importantly, depending on where Lionel Messi was on the pitch. The two would interchange positions and take turns being either the valve to release pressure or a creative force between the lines, orchestrating and turning the opposition inside out.
But it was actually a defensive action that caught the eyes of many and warmed the hearts of all. In the latter stages of the game, Real Sociedad were definitely on the front foot, pushing forward and edging ever closer to the equalising goal.
At one point, Alexander Isak, the young forward, stormed behind the Catalans’ backline owing to a moment of poor control from Jordi Alba and got himself in a 1v1 situation with Marc-Andre ter Stegen. It seemed like a goal was imminent, but Pedri arrived out of nowhere, sprinting from the other side of the pitch just to jump in front of Isak, tackling the ball away from him.
Te quiero mucho, Pedri, de verdad. pic.twitter.com/e27OAMQWym— – (@ragnarsito) December 16, 2020
Unfortunately, due to the uncontrollable pace at which he was running, he lost his footing and ended up colliding with the post. For a moment, everyone’s heart stopped. Luckily, not only was the youngster, fine, but he also wanted to continue fighting and stay on the pitch, as he himself confirmed in the post-game interview.
“The sub wasn’t related to the blow. I would have continued running for the team and help if it were up to me.”Pedri | Post-game Presser
This level of maturity and team spirit is something we’re not used to seeing from an 18-year-old kid, let alone someone who’s just arrived to the club recently and is still developing.
However, if the early signs are anything to go by, we’re witnessing the moulding of a future star. One that Barcelona must cherish and groom.
Luckily, Koeman seems to understand that Pedri is a crucial part of this squad and in an irreplaceable piece of the jigsaw. Hopefully, the manager who replaces him — if at all — does, as well.