Barcelona’s display of their 2-1 victory over Real Sociedad on Saturday was removed from convincing, with the truth that goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen was extensively lauded as man of the match giving an correct reflection to the general stream of the game.
As Real Madrid dropped factors in a while to depart Barca as the one team in La Liga with a 100% document, it was a kind of days the place the consequence was extra essential than the efficiency – though supervisor Ernesto Valverde can be worried that his preliminary team choice struggled to the extent that he was pressured into bringing on rested stars Sergio Busquets and Philippe Coutinho.
The belated look of these two players and the saves made by ter Stegen turned the game in Barca’s favour, however perhaps probably the most significant long-term enhance for Barca was the identification of the match-winning goalscorer: Ousmane Dembele.
In fact, Dembele didn’t have a very nice game, needlessly dropping the ball on a number of events and usually struggling to seamlessly join along with his teammates. Even his profitable goal, bundled home after an error by floundering home keeper Geronimo Rulli, wanted a double-deflection before finding its manner over the road.
However, that ought to not detract from the easy undeniable fact that Dembele scored the important winner, as he additionally did within the Spanish Super Cup against Sevilla and the opening away fixture against Real Valladolid: with out his goals, Barca would have 4 fewer factors and perhaps one fewer trophy.
This is precisely the form of contribution Barca wanted from a extremely pricey signing who largely failed to ship throughout an injury-hit first season on the Camp Nou, and the impression that Dembele continues to be struggling to correctly gel along with his teammates might be missed when he’s proving so decisive.
In reality, which will by no means actually occur. Dembele’s particular ability set – artistic dribbling at tempo – could be significantly better stylistically suited to a team which depends on sharp counter-attacks relatively than the possession-based game favoured by the Blaugrana, and he could at all times remain one thing an outsider, failing to genuinely ‘fit in’ with the Barca DNA.
Rather than a negative, although, that incongruousness could show to be an enormous profit. The problem with Barca’s type has at all times been that, after some time, it turns into relatively predictable: brief sideways passes alongside the bottom, little one-twos, prodding and probing…opposition defenders know precisely what they’re going to get, and may construction their game plan accordingly.
Often, the pure high quality of the people at Barca’s disposal – particularly, in fact, Lionel Messi – permits them to prevail regardless of their comparatively one-dimensional game plan.
But there are additionally loads of instances when even Messi’s heroics aren’t sufficient, and the team desperately wants an alternate method, one thing totally different, to unlock well-drilled opposition.
And that is the place Dembele matches in. Having been reared properly away from La Masia, he doesn’t match the Barca mould. Rather than deftly passing his manner by way of the opposition, he makes an attempt to run his manner by way of.
One-touch passing? No thanks – he prefers to take an additional contact, after which one other, after which trick his well past his marker with a fast change of toes and shift of steadiness.
Much of the time, Dembele’s teammates gained’t know what he’ll do subsequent, and he might properly subsequently battle to ever develop the unstated and unconscious however splendidly incisive reference to Messi and Suarez that was beforehand loved so profitably by Neymar.
However, that gained’t essentially matter if opposition defenders are additionally left guessing for his subsequent transfer, and the artistic individualistic expertise of the Frenchman could find yourself making all of the distinction when the stakes are excessive.
Saturday’s scrambled winner on the Anoeta wasn’t a very good instance as an example that time, nevertheless it does serve to strengthen the sensation that Dembele is rising in confidence and placing his first-season woes behind him. If that pattern continues, he could nonetheless find yourself being an excellent worth for cash signing.