Spanish media judge that Barcelona coach Xavi’s ‘experiment’ without Robert Lewandowski has succeeded against Atlético Madrid. The leader in La Liga was just too strong for the Madrilenians without the suspended Pole.
Xavi did not have access to the suspended top scorer Lewandowski in Wanda Metropolitano on Sunday, who cannot be used for another two league matches after Atlético’s away, and opted for the attacking duo Ousmane Dembélé and Ansu Fati. The former scored the only goal of the match halfway through the first half.
Dembélé is praised in Spanish newspapers for his leading role in Madrid. “The mosquito is biting again,” writes the Madrid daily Marca. In the absence of Lewandowski, the question is who will score the goals for Barca. That task has now been taken over by Dembélé. And with the imminent suspension of Ferran Torres and the unrecognizable Ansu Fati, it seems that Dembele will have to continue to lead offensively.
AS calls Barcelona a leader who knows what ‘suffering’ is. A stroke of genius from Pedri enabled Dembele to open the score. But if you have watched the game, you will understand why both teams are no longer in the top of Europe. Barça have had numerous head-butts in games where they were dominant, but have learned to suffer.’
“The experiment was successful,” writes Mundo Deportivo about Xavi’s tactics without Lewandowski. Pedri and Gavi, both involved in Dembélé’s 0-1, are particularly praised. The Catalan daily called Gavi ‘indomitable’ and saw Pedri ‘magic’. Sport thought Gavi was the best player at Barcelona and also praised Pedri: “His action in the run-up to Dembélé’s goal was magical and worth gold, but he lacked continuity in his game throughout the match.”
Franck Kessié’s situation
Frenkie de Jong was taken off after an hour of play by Xavi and replaced by Franck Kessié. Frenkie helped Busquets defensively, but was unable to bring much offensively and did not start well in the second half. Mundo Deportivo saw De Jong being sacrificed in the second half, “He couldn’t give Barcelona a creative boost and paid the price when Barca lost control of the game.” Memphis Depay stayed on the bench on Sunday evening.