Ansu Fati, Real Betis, and Camp Nou. These three concepts, when related, evoke mixed emotions among Barcelona fans. On August 25, 2019, the young winger fulfilled a dream in front of the supporters of his beloved club. At just 16 years, 9 months, and 25 days old, Fati wore the Blaugrana shirt of the Barcelona senior team for the first time. However, a little over a year later, on November 7, 2020, against the same opponent in the same stadium, the La Masia gem suffered a knee injury that changed everything.
A Dream Debut
Both matches ended with the same result, a 5-2 win for the home team. However, many Barça fans believe that the second game was a loss. The price of those three points in matchday 9 of the 2020/21 season was too high. Ansu Fati missed 52 games due to meniscus problems. And when he returned, a muscle injury continued his nightmare. Since that November evening, the young footballer has never been able to perform with the same spark with which he burst onto the scene, broke countless precocity records, and thrilled fans with the prospect of being Messi’s heir.
A Long Road to Recovery
After leaving behind his physical setbacks, Fati has not played regularly and has not been able to capitalize on the opportunities Xavi has given him. In a short amount of time, he has gone from inheriting the number 10 jersey to having his future up in the air, from hope to concern, and at times, anguish. This season, he has played in 44 games, but he has only been on the field for 1,577 minutes. His numbers, seven goals and three assists, are far from what was expected of him. The competition in attack has condemned him to a role he never imagined, and he has been unable to rebel against the situation.
A Good Record Against Betis
In the five games against Betis that Fati has played, Barcelona’s record could not be better: five victories, 16 goals scored, and eight conceded. The winger has scored two crucial goals in these encounters. The first was at the Benito Villamarin last season, which was decisive in the victory that virtually secured Barça’s second-place finish in La Liga (1-2). The second and last goal came in Saudi Arabia in mid-January 2023, and it was crucial in Barcelona’s qualification for the final of the Spanish Super Cup (2-2, 2-4 on penalties).
This evening, Fati will face Real Betis at the Spotify Camp Nou, looking to score his first goal against them at the stadium. Whether he does it or not, it won’t change the happiness of his debut day or the sadness of the injury that changed everything. Both episodes will always be part of him, for better or for worse.