A vital 45 minutes from Los Cules with dashing performances from Robert Lewandowski and Ansu Fati helped Barcelona overcome Real Sociedad 4-1 in San Sebastian.
La ´Xavioneta´ is back and running in this 22/23 LaLiga season. Xavi´s men came into this game with something to prove after a disappointing start to their season with a 0-0 draw to mid-table team Rayo Vallecano last weekend. A result at home that left many Barca fans worried. However, a week after a scoreless tie, Barcelona did enough in the second half in San Sebastian to take home three massive points and the first ones in this exciting LaLiga campaign.
Despite a sensational attacking display in the second half, the night began with a first-minute Barcelona counter-attack that ended in an excellent finish by Robert Lewandowski. The birthday boy, 34 years old now, showed no signs of slowing down despite his age, with two clinical finishes and a fantastic assist to Ansu Fati in the fourth goal for Los Cules. A positive sign for Barcelona and Xavi to have Lewandowski play at this level to help Barcelona overcome challenging games like the one at San Sebastian.
Ansu Fati: Game Changer
Ansu Fati showed, once again, why he is one of the best young players on this planet. Another stellar performance from the 19-year-old wonder kid who provided a goal and two assists after entering the game in the second half, one of the two an outstanding backheel to Ousmane Dembele, who finished the play to put Barca back in front in the 66th minute. Fati Magic is back, and it will now be hard for Xavi to keep the Spaniard outside the starting eleven in the next match. The heir to Messi´s number ten is here to stay, and his new connection with leading man Lewandowski will terrorize every LaLiga defender this season.
Xavi´s Tactical Change in The Second Half
The scoreline does not reflect what happened in San Sebastian. After a first-minute goal by Lewandowski, Real Sociedad managed to equalize just five minutes later thanks to a Frenkie De Jong howler and had numerous opportunities to lead the game going into the break. Barca struggled in the first half and could have paid the price. Still, with the attacking changes in the second half, with Ansu Fati and Pedri playing behind Lewandowski and Raphinha and Dembele on the wings, Los Blaugranas completely dominated the game and created enough chances to finish off Real Sociedad.
"¨ We have played with two pure wingers [Dembele and Raphinha] and a striker in the interior position [Fati]. Four strikers pretty much. Ansu is able to make a big difference, all the strikers were great today. We had to be brave to win our first game of the season.¨-Xavi on his second half changes (Movistar Plus)"
Three Points but Plenty to Improve Defensively
Three crucial points against a good side are always good news, especially when it is the first win of the season. Nevertheless, Barcelona left a lot of question marks in their defence. In the past two games in LaLiga, Barca has conceded chances very easily, opportunities that could have cost them a couple of points that could matter down the line. Xavi knows this, and the club is doing their best to register Jules Kounde and sign another right-back to strengthen the back four.
Starting Uruguayan centre-back Ronald Araujo as the first choice right-back has not benefited Xavi´s men since most of the chances created by Sociedad took place on Araujo´s side of the field. On the other hand, Academy graduate Alejandro Balde showed potential as a solid left-back with a tremendous defensive workload and an assist in Lewandowski´s first goal. And Although it looks like he could be Xavi´s first choice to improve the lack of defensive ability that Jordi Alba displays, Barcelona´s back four needs work, and the club have to find ways to elevate the squad to the next level with at least another signing in this transfer window.
Barca got the job done in San Sebastian with a convincing second half that should spread some optimism to all Barcelona fans. Now, the team must take in this much-needed win and prepare for the second home game of the season against newly promoted side Real Valladolid next weekend.