- Ansu-perb! Fati shows Setien his worth ahead of Dembele return14:16 | 03/02/2020
The Barcelona youngster broke records on Sunday with a standout performance that broke him out of a recent dry spell.
Photo by Getty
Ansu Fati’s Barcelona career started like a whirlwind so it was only normal for it to slow down.
Since then, with the notable exception of a five-minute cameo at Inter Milan where he scored the winner to silence the San Siro, Ansu became increasingly quiet.
The goals and assists dried up, even his runs became less determined and he looked less sure of himself.
The ice-cool veneer he showed melted. Even as team-mates looked for him he didn’t seem to be getting in as good positions as he did at the start.
That changed on Sunday night. Ansu struck twice in two minutes as Barcelona beat Levante 2-1 at Camp Nou, before this netting just once in his last 14 appearances across all competitions.
These goals came at a vital time, for him personally, and for Barcelona, who cut Real Madrid’s lead at the top of the table back to three points.
Quique Setien started the 17-year-old in four of his first five matches, the odd one out being UD Ibiza in the Copa del Rey, and until now, it yielded little.
Ansu had begun to look the boy he is, rather than the improbably good phenomenon we saw back in September.
With Junior Firpo, a former Setien favourite at Real Betis, on the bench and Ousmane Dembele close to his return from injury, Ansu needed to make a mark.
“His commitment is total, it’s absolute,” Setien said of Dembele, who has been working hard in training, putting on muscle. “It makes me cry to see how intensely and how much he’s working.”
Strong words from the coach and clearly a threat to Ansu’s immediate place in the team.
This may have been a make-or-break night for him. Not his career, obviously, with the talented young forward destined for big things, but certainly for his season.
It would be easy for him to slip back to the bench when Dembele returns, and he still might, but Setien now has seen with his own eyes what Ansu has.
Lionel Messi knows it. The Argentine, whose brother is Ansu’s agent, has backed the teenager since he broke into the side and here fed him two delicious assists.
The first was a sensational swivelled pass, angled diagonally into Ansu’s feet, and the young forward showed good strength to hold off a defender and fire through Aitor Fernandez’s legs to break the deadlock in the 30th minute.
The duo repeated the trick in the 31st, with Messi’s wonderful dribble and pass giving Ansu the ball in the box. A clever shift to his left foot and, bang, 2-0. Aitor should have done better but perhaps Ansu caught him by surprise.
That brought his confidence back and in the second half we saw him try a lot of things, to differing results, including spinning a bicycle kick inches wide.
It was just as well Ansu delivered, because Messi has had trouble finding the net of late in La Liga. With 11 shots against Valencia last weekend – the most he has had in a game without scoring – and 10 more today, it’s something of a curiosity. However his assists for Ansu showed he’s still in fine form – and he’s still the division’s top scorer.
The teenager’s goals helped Gerard Pique celebrate his 33rd birthday too. Referee Cordero Vega also ‘helped’, giving the defender a card – a yellow one – and a weekend off – he misses the clash at Real Betis next Sunday.
Ansu, however, will be there, after this performance, which earned him a standing ovation when he was replaced in the final stages.
Source – Goal.com
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