After last weekend’s circus against Getafe, Barca was looking for a more controlled setting this weekend, this time against Cadiz at the Montjuic.
How did the blaugrana fare? Let’s find out.
The first half was more so of frustration, than jubilation for Barca.
The initial set up for Xavi’s side possessed 5 midfielders, with the deepest one — Frenkie De Jong — playing as a centerback out of possession. This of course allowed for more control, but solely placed the scoring load on Robert Lewandowski and even 16 year old Lamine Yamal.
For a while, the frustration from this setup was apparent, as Lewandowski couldn’t find the back of the net, continuing his recent streak of uninspiring play. Yamal on the other hand looked great, but even he has limitations due to his age and lack of experience.
However, the most frustration came from the fact that Barca couldn’t convert their chances. Which was a complete 360 from last weekend’s narrative, of which Barca couldn’t create any chances whatsoever.
Barca lacking in front of goal
The likes of Pedri, Lewandowski, Yamal, and Kounde all had chances to give Barca a goal in the first half.
The problem? Either these shots weren’t threatening enough or they were saved by Jeremias Ledesma. Who was well on his way towards repeating his sudden dominance against Barca, if not for some second half heroics.
With these chances not being put away, it led to an increasing amount of pessimism from the outside, while forcing a lot of pressure on the players to find a goal after last weekend’s disappointing debaccle.
Of course there were still another 45 minutes remaining. But the earlier you put these sort of clubs away, the better. Throughout the rest of the first half, Barca struggled to somewhat create chances. Cadiz’s low block had settled in and was giving Barca some fits.
Not only that, Cadiz’s “gamesmanship” was starting to ruffle some feathers on Barca’s side. Physical fouls, kicking balls out of play during dead ball periods, just blatant attempts at slowing the game down, those sort of things.
It was up to Barca though to get past those things and get a much needed result, which would have to wait until the second half as the first half ended like it began.
The second half saw Barca create more chances, but still fail to put any of them into the back of the net.
Yamal had the most dangerous one before the eventual action later in the half. As his left footed shot had some power, but was punched away by Ledesma.
Other than that though, Barca’s created chances were more so half chances. Headers being knocked wide of the post, shots straight at Ledesma being saved, crosses being collected before they could present more danger.
It rode along these sort of lines.
Barca also had to contend with some very dangerous chances on the counter from Cadiz. Most of which would’ve been converted if more quality were involved. At this time, Barca was riding luck more than anything, but on the bad side of things per say.
They had to find goals and soon. Because it was getting late, with the score still 0-0 and a debut crowd at the Montjuic getting restless. Luckily for Barca, they still had a little man from Tenerife that has a knack for coming up clutch in big moments.
And tonight, he showcased once again why he has been labeled as a man Barca turn to in big moments.
Pedri opens the scoring
Barca finally got their goal in the 82nd minute, thanks to some lovely link up play between Pedri and Ilkay Gündogan. Gündogan received the ball from Pedri just outside the penalty area, with the latter making a darting run into a dangerous area.
Gündogan then lofted a pretty pass towards Pedri, who then slid a left footed shot past Ledesma.
There’s been some question why Pedri has been the one making these runs, instead of the more proven goal threat in Gündogan. And while those questions are legitimate, this goal by Pedri might be a reason why.
That isn’t to say this should be the norm moving forward. It shouldn’t since Gündogan’s runs and finishing make him more suited for that role, same with Pedri as the deeper controller/creator.
But the goal was all that mattered at the time. Which is the only thing Barca wanted after a frustrating 90+ minutes against Getafe and a frustrating 81 minutes against Cadiz.
However, the action didn’t end there for Barca, as they collected a second goal from a preseason standout.
Ferran Torres scores
The second and last goal scorer of the match was none other than Ferran Torres. If you watched Barca’s preseason, then this comes as no surprise. As the Spanish international put together a very decent preseason in which he scored multiple goals and looked more fresh and focused.
The only thing missing was to put it together in meaningful game time, which he did in the dying minutes of the match.
It’s encouraging to see Torres scoring goals, especially after a 2022-2023 season in which he looked lost, devoid of confidence, while going through the form of his entire career.
If he can keep this up, he’ll continue to receive chances, especially if the rest of the front line continues to look messy (Lewandowski).
With that goal though, the match ended 2-0, with Barca securing the win and giving them a positive step forward early on in this La Liga campaign.
I can’t say this match was easy.
Barca encountered another squad with a low block and there was no way it was going to be infiltrated that easily. But Barca found a way to create chances, albeit not champagne football type chances (who cares about that anyways?), but they were chances nonetheless.
Now all they have to do it keep it going, because these next set of fixtures are not going to be easy, with visits to the Estadio de la Cerámica and Osasuna to round out the first set of matches before the September international break.
Barca’s next match
Barca’s next match will be next Sunday against Villareal, away from the Montjuic.
See you all then!