Barcelona and Athletic Club always engage in tussles worth admiring. After all, they are two teams that thrive on regional pride and homegrown talent like none other.
The Catalans boast of a strong recent record against Ernesto Valverde’s men, yet, Sunday night’s clash was no mean feat.
Barcelona were, after all, without some of their biggest players, and Xavi Hernandez was forced to deploy a makeshift XI that understandably does not boast of great chemistry.
The visitors gave the defending champions a run for their money, particularly in the second half when they created several chances to take the lead.
Resilient defence and some lucky charm from the academy’s young talent, however, came to the fore and delivered three points for Barcelona.
Barça Universal brings you three talking points from Barcelona 1-0 Athletic Club.
Joao Felix keeps getting better
Barcelona under Xavi Hernandez has had no shortage of protagonists. Be it the young midfield core of Pedri, Gavi and Frenkie de Jong or the veteran forwards like Robert Lewandowski, they have all had their moments to shine.
One name that has come up recently, and has only been getting better with every passing week, is Joao Felix.
Since his move to Catalonia on loan, the youngster has found renewed form. After all, the novel system and attacking brand of football have ignited his inner footballing spirit.
Yet, what has been the most surprising about the Portuguese forward is not his quality, for that has been known for a long time. Rather, it is the sheer consistency with which he has been delivering the goods that comes as a good omen for Xavi’s side.
Last night, once again, Felix was Barcelona’s best player by far. The youngster looks ever so comfortable in his role on the left and has seemingly taken over as the creator-in-chief for the Catalans.
Against Athletic Club, the on-loan star recorded three shots on target hit the woodwork once, completed one dribble, and provided a stunning three key passes.
Over the course of the game, he laid the ball on a platter for Lamine Yamal, Ferran Torres, and Fermin Lopez alongside others whilst also coming close to scoring on multiple occasions himself.
Ultimately, he was rewarded for his relentless attacking display as he notched up the assist for Marc Guiu’s goal. Truth be told, Felix deserves the lion’s share of the credit for the winner as he threaded the ball through the Basque defence to set the La Masia prodigy free.
Leaving his Marc
After the full-time whistle at Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys on Sunday night, fans across the globe were left in awe of La Masia.
The Barcelona football academy has been famed for long for its ability to churn out high-quality young footballing professionals. Yet, it has now reached a point where one’s jaw is left dropped by the sheer number of such prodigies in its ranks.
Xavi Hernandez’s side already boats of Gavi, Balde, Yamal, and Fermin Lopez, all of whom are young graduates of the same academy. On Sunday night, when Xavi Hernandez urgently needed resources to capitalise in front of the goal, the academy delivered once again.
With close to 80 minutes on the clock, Barcelona were struggling to convert chances created in the final third. Xavi’s eyes fell on the young Marc Guiu on the bench, his eyes beaming with confidence as the manager said in his post-match press conference.
The Spanish tactician called on Guiu and gave him his formal debut with the first team with ten minutes to spare. Like a fairytale, the youngster required no more than 30 seconds and two touches to announce himself to the world.
Receiving Felix’s pass with a well-positioned stance, Guiu lashed out behind the Basque defence and had only Unai Simon to beat. The goalkeeper charged towards the youngster, but he tactfully put the ball past Simon without breaking a sweat before realising the magnitude of what he had just done.
His performance will only open the door to more minutes for Guiu, especially as a direct rotation option with Lewandowski.
Stage set for El Clasico
Calendars across the globe have the date of 28th October marked in red as a special night. A day when football peaks and the two powerhouses of the sport face off for the first time in the new season.
Barcelona host Real Madrid on Matchday 11 of La Liga EA Sports, and the two teams’ results in the recent round only go on to amplify the importance of this year’s famed fixture.
Ahead of the tenth game week, Real Madrid had a solid three-point lead over Barcelona and were threatening to build on their advantage.
As fate had it, Los Blancos could not find answers to the questions Sevilla posed on Saturday. Facing Sergio Ramos’ side, they could only manage a tame draw and picked up just one point.
Barcelona’s win, thus, sets up for the Clasico nicely. With the Catalans picking up three points, there is only one point that separates the arch-rivals on the league standings. The winner this weekend will walk away not only with the bragging rights but possibly also the position of the league leader.