I must admit, I did think this would be a tougher game than it turned out to be. It was primed for an upset, Unzue's knowledge of our team, a 1-1 draw in the first leg (I know it was our second team), it was the kind of situation where smaller teams rise to the occasion. Not a Barca with Lionel Messi, not an Ernesto Valverde FC Barcelona.
I was a bit annoyed at the lineup, it is clear I am not an Andre Gomes fan and starting him was annoying to me. I was concerned to see that Denis Suarez was not even on the bench. As of now, I have not been able to confirm why he was absent, I have seen reports that he was injured but have not been able to confirm it. I would have liked to see Dembele get the start but other than Gomes, I thought it was a good lineup.
Jordi and Messi
What an amazing combo! When Neymar left, and Dembele got hurt, that left side was completely open, no one for Messi to hit those beautiful cross field balls to. Jordi has owned it linking up with Messi like Dani Alves used to on the right side. It's been beautiful to see and those three goals between the two of them were just beautiful.
The rumors of this man's demise were greatly exaggerated. I've always been a fan of his and am glad to see him coming back to form. I would like to think his poor run of form was due to him having to change his game under Valverde to a more defensive type of midfielder. It seems he's finally returning to form, and it's great to see. He had a great game and deserved to cap it off with a goal.
I would have liked to see Dembele get a whole half, but, I thought the subs Valverde made were good choices. It's
great to see Arnaiz getting another go, he is the first youth prospect I think we've dealt with properly since Pep's days. He's been given the minutes based on his performance and it's been good to see.
Dembele Dembele Dembele…interesting enough, when he dropped back to play the Messi role, he got way, way better. Played an amazing pass to Arnaiz, had some great dribbles, almost had an assist then had an assist. This game more than any shows he's going to be amazing…his 35 min cameo could have been a personal highlight reel all on its own. Cannot wait to see him at his best.
The Biggest Loser
Not trying to end on a sad note but…for all those Gomes fans you have to ask yourself…in 90' mins…what did he actually do? Arnaiz made a run and almost scored, Dembele had an assist, a penetrating pass, and 2 chances created. What did Gomes do this game? This one more than any other should prove why he does not deserve minutes on this team. Hopefully, he gets the transfer or is loaned out and we can focus on players that are actually producing for
Peep the highlights, let me know your thoughts, and as always Forca Barca!