Barcelona and the 85th minute
Barcelona beat Osasuna 2-1 on Sunday in a tough game but left it late to secure all three points. Robert Lewandowski netted the winner from the penalty spot in the 85th minute to ensure Barca took home all three points.
Interestingly, that’s now the third late win in a row for Barcelona against Osasuna. Even more interestingly, their winning goals in their last three matches against Osasuna have all come in the 85th minute.
Jordi Alba did the business when the two teams last met in May at Camp Nou, while Raphinha was the match-winner in the 85th minute on the team’s last visit to El Sadar back in November.
Lewandowski has now added to that run to leave Osasuna empty-handed once again. The victory is also the first time Barca have won two games at El Sadar in a row since back in 2005 when Frank Rijkaard was at the helm.
Gavi the centurion
Another impressive stat from Sunday’s match was the sight of 19-year-old Gavi writing his name into the history books by becoming the youngest player to reach 100 appearances in all competitions for the club.
Gavi beat Bojan’s record by hitting the 100 mark and is also the youngest player born after 2004 to reach the milestone in Europe’s top five leagues. It’s also worth noting that he’s started 79 of those games, highlighting just how crucial he is to Barcelona already.
Sunday’s match saw Gavi put in another influential performance. His tenacity and combativeness were much-needed at El Sadar, even if he did end up with several staples in his ear.
Gavi spoke of his pride at becoming Barca’s latest centurion and also made an interesting admission afterwards, saying he felt this was the sort of game his team would have lost two years ago.
The midfielder’s emergence into the team is one reason why they didn’t. Here’s to another 100 appearances.
Are we expecting too much of Lewandowski?
Robert Lewandowski hasn’t looked himself for some time now and complained before the match about a lack of support in attack and how referees are killing the game in Spain.
It looked like being another frustrating night for Lewandowski, particularly after an early miss, until he won the crucial penalty late on and made no mistake from the spot.
Osasuna boss Jagoba Arrasate questioned the decision to award the spot-kick after the game, but there’s no doubt that Alejandro Catena tugged at Lewandowski.
Actuación perfecta del VAR en el Osasuna – Barcelona.
Catena se desentiende del balón y agarra por el brazo a Lewandowski.
▪️ Ortiz Arias, correctamente, señaló el penalti pero sólo mostró la amarilla.
Al no existir disputa de balón, es PENALTI y ROJA DIRECTA. pic.twitter.com/CMsWO43itl
— Archivo VAR (@ArchivoVAR) September 3, 2023
Meanwhile, Xavi spoke afterwards and feels too much is expected of Lewandowski.
“I think we’re too demanding with him. Robert’s given us four points in the last two games, he scored in the last match, he scored today, he was decisive and that’s what a goalscorer is for. He played well today, he played more simple today, played a good positional game,” he said.
“We spoke during the week about him not having as many touches but he was very well positioned. I think he played well. Even if we had won without his goal, I think he played as good game.”
Lewandowski hasn’t enjoyed playing Osasuna since joining Barca, having been sent off last season, but another goal to win it will surely improve his mood.
Barcelona seeing the real Kounde
Jules Kounde headed home Barcelona’s opening goal, after a quick chat with Gavi, just before half-time on a good night for the Frenchman.
The arrival of Joao Cancelo is undoubtedly a boost for Kounde, who will be hoping to spend the majority of the season back in his preferred position of central defense.
Kounde partnered Andreas Christensen against Osasuna and was one of Barcelona’s most impressive players at El Sadar along with Frenkie de Jong.
The France international will now be hoping to cement his place in the heart of the defence this season, with Xavi set to have a nice selection headache when everyone is fit.
Ronald Araujo is still first choice but there’s a real battle heating up to be his partner with Inigo Martinez, Christensen and Kounde all in the mix.
It’s fair to say that Barcelona haven’t really seen the real Kounde since bringing him in from Sevilla, due to the need to play him at full-back, but that could all be about to change.
Debuts for Barcelona’s new boys
Cancelo did make his debut for Barcelona against Osasuna, along with Inigo Martinez and Joao Felix, and his arrival will be a relief after another poor showing from captain Sergi Roberto.
The Man City loanee made a good early impression, with the highlight being a sweet cross from the outside of his boot which almost resulted in a goal for Lewandowski.
Martinez also finally made his debut after recovering from injury, while there were also minutes for Joao Felix towards the end of the fixture.
There’s no doubt that Xavi was happy with his new boys after the match.
“Their involvement and attitude stands out above the game,” he said. “They have been very supportive. They have worked for the team and this is the base that is non-negotiable. They can give us many variables.”
The two Joaos are both in the Portugal squad and will head off over the international break but will then return and hopefully settle quickly into life at Barcelona.