BarcelonaA pleasant feeling spreads across the Camp Nou. As if it were an old and familiar smell, like that electricity that goes down your back when you see the person you like. Barça are excited again, becoming an easy team to recognize. Led by the races of Adama, the magic of Pedri and an anthological goal of the rebellious boy, Dembélé, is a team that has grown wings. After Valencia and Napoli, it was his turn to host Athletic (4-0). Xavi’s seeds are already bearing fruit. And the Camp Nou is grateful for that, with a joy that is entrusted to it.
It is the return of a Barça that wants the ball. That he achieves small much-needed victories. After regaining self-esteem in Europe, he had to chain three victories. The last time it was hit was in April. Many things have happened since then. One of them, the arrival of a methodical coach, who instructs a batch of young players led by a Pedri who was born to dazzle the Camp Nou. A few months in which Dembélé made them the height of a bell tower and provoked the debate of a fan who received him with whistles but ended up at his feet when he invented the 2-0. And he still had time to give two gifts to Luuk de Jong and Memphis, supporting actors in a brilliant triumph.
The truth is that Athletic did not hide that the game was a little annoying. This week he plays the return leg of the Cup semifinals and came out with a lot of substitutes. And Barça took advantage of this to turn the game into a show with a single goal. Barça also needed a game without conceding a goal. Marcelino’s bet helped to boost the self-esteem of Ter Stegen, who had scored 9 of the last 10 goals. He had little work, the German.
Optimism, however, is often dangerous. Like a good wine, it makes you drunk. And after the Naples festival, you couldn’t play at the Camp Nou. With the exception of Betis, all the rivals in the fight to be in the Champions League had done their job. Barça could not fail. And he never felt like he would, even though the goal took a while to arrive. Barça’s total dominance did not translate into an avalanche of opportunities. And it took a corner to start making his way. Piqué, always lethal, finished off the crossbar and Auba, mischievous, took advantage to beat Simon. Once the former Arsenal player has joined the team, he has returned the goal. The long-awaited effectiveness, key to lifting the goal. If the goal was scored by the Gabonese, the man of the moment is Adama Traoré. So strong and fast, at times it seems like Gulliver is getting rid of the inhabitants of Liliput. Every time he started, Athletic suffered bravely. One of Xavi’s merits is that he has created an ecosystem where a vertical footballer like Adama and a horizontal footballer like Pedri can play, who makes football an art form whenever he wants. The union of strength and delicacy, poetry and rock’n’roll. Barça open the field, create spaces and it doesn’t take long to get the ball back. A work full of details, of double readings.
With Gavi giving up on every play to give Frenkie de Jong a break, Barça is a growing project. All he needs to do is join Ferran Torres in the cause. The Valencian knows perfectly well what he has to do on the pitch, but he still looks nervous, like students who arrive at a school in the middle of the year and still don’t know what to do to win the sympathy of others. In the second half he forgave the 2-0 alone against Unai Simón. It seemed like an easy task for Aubameyang, who seemed unable to keep up with the other players.
Marcelino’s double change at the break, which strengthened the defense with Iñigo and added danger with the talented Sancet, equalized things a bit. What does not change, however, is the debate over Dembélé, who was able to divide the Camp Nou between whistles and applause, once he entered through a lost-eyed Ferran. Able to survive with substitutes, Athletic brought in some headlines to put fear into Barça’s body, but it was Dembélé who was in charge of continuing the party, prolonging a moment as sweet as the first kiss. First he scored a beautiful goal, and then he centered on the goals that closed the party, the work of Luuk de Jong and Memphis. Two players that Xavi also needs to join the cause.
Xavi’s Barça take care of the ball, but they have wings on their wings. Be it Adama Traoré or the Frenchman, who ended up applauded by a stadium ready to forgive sins, now that things are finally going well again. Football has these things. It can be 90 minutes of happiness in times of darkness.