After a mediocre start to 2024, Barca is looking to rebound, this time in the Spanish Super Cup.
Their opponent? The rowdy Osasuna, a club who surprised many last year, but haven’t been able to maintain that level this year due to some decline in quality.
The winner moves on to the final to take on Real Madrid, so who’ll be the one to set up a duel with the Madrid giants on Sunday night? Let’s find out.
The first half saw an expected development occur, with Osasuna conceding most of the possession to Barca, allowing Barca all the time in the world to carefully choose their next option in the attack.
Unfortunately for Barca, this approach didn’t lead to much in the way of goal scoring opportunities. Not because of the structure though — although that aided in the problem as well — but due to the lack of technical excellence in the final third.
Barca were shocking in that department in the first half, with a handful of attacks losing their steam because of a lack of efficiency technicality wise. This allowed Osasuna to stay deadlocked with Barca throughout most of the first half, while even being able to create some danger on their own.
In all honesty, Osasuna could’ve scored a goal or two in the first half, but the final product was lacking so Barca got away from danger rather quickly.
Barca did combat with some chances of their own, like Robert Lewandowski’s 1v1 opportunity that went to waste, or Ferran Torres’ opening game shot going inches wide of a fairly open net.
But none of these chances came to fruition, as Barca and Osasuna both went into halftime level at 0.
Barca didn’t play up to standard in the opening 45 minutes, but like we’ve seen all year long, there’s still a chance whenever Barca has their second half heroics on their side.
Did their magic come back tonight? Well, let’s discuss.
The second half was better from Barca, but more so in the defensive aspect. Xavi recognized that his team wasn’t getting much in the way of space in the attacking phase, mostly due to Osasuna’s pragmatic defensive structure.
So once Barca got their first goal, they focused on staying compact defensively and stopping any leaks before they became a thing.
Robert Lewandowski ends his woeful drought
Before we get into the structure though, we have to address Barca’s first goal. It began with Ilkay Gundogan lofting a beautiful pass for Lewandowski, who had nothing left but to put in a classic striker’s finish.
The Polish star hasn’t been putting in basic actions on the pitch lately, let alone a striker’s finish, so there was some pause from fans. But Lewandowski finally remembered who he was and slotted a clean shot into the back of the net.
Now to the rest of the action.
Once this goal went in, Barca focused on protecting their lead. This meant less numbers forward and less time on the ball, which then led to Osasuna pushing numbers forward. Osasuna had some breath stopping moments, but the approach proved worthy as Barca kept Osasuna off the sheet.
With Osasuna pushing so many numbers forward, there was adequate space left behind for a counter. Barca attempted to take advantage of this numerous times, but their lack of pace — mostly from Lewandowski, why Roque wasn’t in for this stage of the match, we’ll never know — really hurt them in the end.
Joao Felix amazes, Lamine Yamal finishes
But during one of Barca’s last attacking instances of the match, they finally put it together to complete the puzzle.
Joao Felix created the highlights, nutmegging an Osasuna defender before driving into Osasuna’s final third, finding Lamine Yamal, who then carefully slotted home his second total goal for Barca this season.
Eventually the match ended in a 2-0 win for Barca, giving them their first win with a multi goal difference since September (!).
What a tale of two halves.
Barca looked frustrated and tight in the first half, but turned up the efficiency in the second. It wasn’t the prettiest, and Lewandowski’s embarrassing final third activity was mostly useless, but a win is a win during trying times like these.
I only wish there was more complete football from this squad, but one step at a time….right?
Barca’s next match
Barca’s next match will be on Sunday against Real Madrid, making it an El Clasico with a trophy on the line.
See you all then!
I’ve been a big time Barca fan since I was 14 years old. I love the club, the history, and the tradition that the club has built over its prestigious history. Forca Barca!