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Three talking points from Osasuna 1-2 Barcelona



Photo by ANDER GILLENEA/AFP via Getty Images

Barcelona’s flaws were exposed once again in their fourth La Liga game of the season as they secured a hard-fought 2-1 win at El Sadar against Osasuna.

Xavi Hernandez’s men were dismal for large parts of the game and far from as dominant as they should have been. They were lacklustre in creativity, horizontal in their play and simply lacked the cutting-edge a title contender must possess.

Jules Kounde gave the team the lead late in the first half, but the 45 minutes that followed saw Barcelona toil endlessly. Osasuna pressed all the Catalans’ buttons and put incessant pressure on their back-line.

A pearl from Chimy Avila got the hosts back in the game, but Robert Lewandowski’s late penalty and a red card for Alejandro Catena turned it around. 

Despite being down a man, Osasuna pushed Barcelona to the limit in stoppage time and created chance after chance. The Blaugranas held on, but it is astonishing how helpless they appeared despite having an extra man.

Barça Universal brings you three talking points from Osasuna 1-2 Barcelona.

New season, same storyline

Barcelona have now not lost at El Sadar for over a decade. Yet, it has never been an easy stadium for the Blaugranas to play at.

They have only once scored more than two goals against the Pamplona-based side in the past ten years, with all other wins being nervy in their own way.

Last season was no different. Barcelona found themselves a goal and a man down within 30 minutes of play and were fighting an uphill battle. Yet, they fought through the torrential waters and scored twice in the second half.

Incidentally, both the Azulgranas’ wins over Jagoba Arrasate’s men last season came courtesy of goals in the final five minutes of play. Last night’s match saw the same storyline.

Having been firmly in the driver’s seat through Jules Kounde’s towering header, the visitors threw their lead away with just 15 minutes to go. Eventually, they won again through a winner five minutes from time via a Robert Lewandowski penalty.

Osasuna deserved a draw on the night, but Barcelona scrappily got over the line and it is not their first time doing so.

Jules Kounde – Barcelona’s rock in defence

Impressing. (Photo by ANDER GILLENEA/AFP via Getty Images)

Jules Kounde has been a transformed player this season, and a large part of his improved form has to do with his change in position.

The Frenchman was one of La Liga’s best defenders two seasons ago before his move to Catalonia. After signing for Barcelona, however, he was forced to play at right-back for close to a year.

Kounde did not disappoint in the novel role, but his influence was largely subdued. Now back in his niche, the defender is shining brighter than ever before. The 24-year-old has been Barcelona’s best defender this season, and he arguably peaked last night against Osasuna.

In 90 minutes, he recorded a stunning seven clearances, blocked two clear-cut shots, made two interceptions and two tackles against Jagoba Arrasate’s men. Further, Kounde won all five ground duels he attempted and four out of six aerial duels on the night.

The centre-back’s impressive statistics do not end there. He completed all three attempted dribbles, 92% of his passes and scored Barcelona’s opener in the first half with a well-worked header.

A night of debuts

Last night saw Barcelona take to the field for the first time since the closing of the transfer window and their hectic deadline day. While the game kicked off just 48 hours after the new incorporations, Xavi Hernandez made no delay in throwing them into the deep end.

Both Joao Cancelo and Joao Felix started on the bench against Osasuna. The former was expected to play from the get-go, but Xavi opted to hand Sergi Roberto the start and brought Cancelo on only at the hour mark.

The Portuguese full-back’s impact could be felt immediately. While he was solid in defence, he constantly made inverting runs centrally to combine with Ferran Torres on the right wing.

There was a tangible sense of threat when he had the ball at his feet. In fact, the former Manchester City star was inches away from recording his first assist of the season as Lewandowski’s finish almost trickled over the goal line.

Joao Felix was Barcelona’s second debutant at El Sadar. The former Atletico Madrid star came on in the 80th minute after Osasuna’s equaliser and played on the left wing.

Felix was not involved in the play as much as he would have liked, but his most dazzling moment came in extra-time when he sliced the Osasuna defence in half to find Raphinha in space.

The final debutant was Inigo Martinez who was registered with La Liga only in recent days. The former Athletic Club defender replaced Andreas Christensen in extra time and gave a solid display. Notably, however, he almost gave away a penalty.

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