It took me about a week but I’ve finally managed to sit down and gather my thoughts. It would be an understatement to say many Culés were disappointed following Barcelona’s first-half performance in an otherwise exciting 4:1 victory over Real Sociedad last weekend. But seeing the team rally and eventually decimate their opponent rekindled the hope of a rattled fanbase. So who would even dare to criticise the squad after a convincing triumph and a crucial three points against a huge opponent? Well… It’s a bit more complicated than that.
The first 45 minutes can easily be described as madness. But while my first thought was that Barcelona finally clicked with the introduction of the second-half subs, upon further analysis, it turns out the damage had been done even prior to that. Yes, Ansu Fati and Raphinha in particular were the changes Barcelona needed to push them to victory but that was simply the pay-off for a setup that had been established between minutes 15-60.
‘… when you run out of gas, a team like Barça scores four goals. Until we ran out of strength the game was balanced,’ said Imanol Alguacil, the coach of the defeated La Real team after the game. And this answer, or at least a part of it, came after he was asked whether it was Fati who changed the game for Barcelona. His response intrigued me and I had to re-watch the game, paying attention to different sequences and dissecting the stats in intervals to see whether he was right. On the surface, it seemed like such a cliché or standard post-match interview thing to say. But it kept nagging me for a whole week.