FC Barcelona were at the Camp Nou tonight hosting Levante. Setien stuck with the 4-3-3 formation. That formation brought his success during the midweek clash against Leganés in the Copa Del Rey. He did make a few rotations however. Vidal was out of the squad due to injury and Rakitic got the nod to start the match. Barcelona needed to win this match to keep up in the race for the title. Rival Real Madrid won the Madrid derby and kept their lead atop the table.
The first half began very slow. Lots of simple errors that kept Barcelona off the scoresheet. Nonetheless, everything began to click and Barcelona found their form. Under Setien, majority possession will always favor Barcelona. We continued to see that tonight. But it was not until the 30th minute that Barcelona accomplished something with that possession.
Lionel Messi produced a world class pass that found Ansu Fati in perfect stride to leave him with only the goalkeeper to beat and the teenage sensation did just that. Barcelona were ahead 1-0 for only one minute as Messi once again found Ansu Fati and the young Spanish international once again finished his opportunity and became the youngest player to ever score a brace in La Liga history. Messi was unlucky to not find the back of the net in the first half as he continued to work but nothing fell his way unfortunately.
The second half was less intense than the first. Barcelona were once again dominant in possession but produced fewer clear cut chances. Ter Stegen was called upon more in the second half and made three crucial stops to keep his clean sheet alive. Unfortunately the clean sheet fell short, as Levante received a fortunate deflection ended up in the back of the net. Few chances were created from each side and the second half did not live up to the expectations of the first half.
There were not many negatives to take away from Barcelona’s performance tonight. There were however many positives tonight and the biggest one has to be the sublime performance from Nelson Semedo. This was his best game in a Barcelona jersey by far. Semedo showed glimpses of Barcelona legend Dani Alves tonight in the way he combined with the attacking line and his durability in defense was flawless.
Semedo even came close to landing on the scoresheet as his shot fizzled off of the crossbar. Aside from Semedo, the rest of the backline did their job and had a stellar performance, limiting Levante to very few chances on goal. Ansu Fati was alive and flourishing tonight on the left wing. His runs created havoc on the Levante defense as they were unable to contain him. Fati was unlucky to not complete his hat trick, but a brace for the seventeen year old saw him wrote his name in the history books once again.
Barcelona will travel to the Sam Mamés on Thursday to face Athletic Bilbao in the next round of the Copa Del Rey.