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Three talking points from Barcelona 1-0 Mallorca

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Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images

Coming off a recent win against the mighty Girona, Mallorca had the momentum on their side ahead of Friday’s clash against Barcelona in La Liga. The Copa del Rey finalists, after all, took points off Barcelona the last time they faced off this season as well.

The 90 minutes that unfolded at Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys last night, thus, saw fighting football all over. From injuries to missed penalties, the game had it all as it finally boiled down to a 1-0 home win.

Lamine Yamal was the hero on the night for Barcelona once more, but the game brought out great displays from players across the field. Pau Cubarsi was refined, mature, and solid in defence, and Gundogan stellar in midfield despite his penalty blues while Yamal shone in the final third.

Barça Universal brings you three talking points from Barcelona 1-1 Mallorca.

The midfield curse

At this point, it is not unwarranted to label Barcelona’s midfield situation to be heavily cursed. After all, the position has seen players fall like a pack of cards and succumb to injuries.

Just last week, Xavi lost both Pedri and Frenkie de Jong to injury in 90 minutes. While the former sustained a blow to his hamstring, the latter fell prey to a gruesome ankle injury after an awkward landing.

The injuries forced Xavi to make drastic changes in midfield against Mallorca. Andreas Christensen started as the pivot on the night with Ilkay Gundogan taking his regular position as an interior. The third player in midfield, out of the blue, was Raphinha.

The Brazilian did not have the best of games and should not have been deployed in the role in hindsight. Yet, he racked up only one key pass, won a penalty and 17 attempted passes on the night before he too fell prey to the curse.

While winning the penalty on the night, the Brazilian had his ankle sustained a bad knock. He warriored on for 15 minutes after the incident, but it was too severe for him to continue as he asked to be taken off the field.

The midfield curse at Barcelona, thus, is not helping Xavi’s case in any sense for the manager now has meagre resources to choose from. Fortunately, reports suggest that the Brazilian could be ready for Tuesday’s game against Napoli.

Bailed out by Yamal

Magician. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Words, at this point, fall short for Lamine Yamal. To carry the hopes of an entire fanbase, lead a dressing room with veterans and perform with exquisite quality week in and week out is abnormal for a mere 16-year-old talent.

It is clear that Yamal is no ordinary talent. With every game that passes, he proves that he is special and gifted, and last night was no different.

The teenager indeed had a quiet game for his liking. The first half did not quite go his way as he was subdued by the Mallorca defence, but he only grew into the game as time passed.

Eventually, he scored a peach from a tight angle to give Barcelona three points and make up for Gundogan’s missed penalty. Scoring that outrageous a winner under pressure of that sort at 16 years of age, rest assured, is no ordinary feat.

In the 73rd minute at Montjuic, the prodigal teenager completed a one-two with Robert Lewandowski before turning inside-out twice to eliminate opposition defenders. From a ridiculous angle and distance, he curled a shot into the top far-post corner beyond the reach of Rajkovic and sealed the three points for Barcelona.

Yamal is a blessing for Barcelona in a time of turmoil. Yet, the question that remains is to what capacity one can rely on a 16-year-old to conjure magic repeatedly and salvage the team’s points.

Gathering the momentum

While Barcelona may have required a golazo to get past Mallorca, the fact of the matter remains that the performance was far from dismal. After the dull draw against Ernesto Valverde’s Athletic Club, last night’s match was refreshing to watch as the Catalans created a tangible threat against the Copa del Rey finalists.

Barcelona had 20 shots and three big chances on the night, and while they failed to convert any of the aforementioned three opportunities, their very creation amidst midfield jeopardy is worth being celebrated.

There is still a long way to go before Barcelona boast of a free-flowing attack, but there are the stepping stones that one hopes to build the confidence. More importantly, games like yesterday and the winning result go a long way ahead of the Catalans’ upcoming UEFA Champions League clash.

On Tuesday, the Blaugranas lock horns with Napoli in the second leg of the Round of 16 tie. After the 1-1 draw in Italy, there is everything to play for on the night and one hopes that Barcelona carry forward the momentum from last night into the clutch game.

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