Atlético-Villarreal was the first high-flying clash of the new LaLiga season and it turned out to be a game of two halves. Little happened for the first hour, a kind of football-gasoil with no rhythm or excitement. Only late in the second half did things get livelier and there was a lot of fast-paced football, filled with incidents. Let’s just say that Atlético deserved to win (Rulli was enormous and the crossbar saved them) but they lost the game and their heads. A huge mistake by new signing Nahuel Molina led to Villarreal’s first goal, and then he got himself sent off shortly after. It all led to a second goal for the Yellow Submarine with a brawl over Gerard’s misjudged celebration.
Anoeta, on the other hand, got off to a flying start with two lightning-fast goals, the first served up by Balde to Lewandowski, the equaliser from De Jong’s wasteful pass, finished off with an Isak goal. Once the smoke cleared, we were able to witness a match in which Pedri’s quality shone through, but Barça, without fluency, did not look like a team that was up for it. Real were finding gaps, especially on the left with Merino, but not only there. Ter Stegen was solid between the sticks, especially in an extraordinary save from a David Silva shot that caught him off guard.
Fati changes the game
That was changed by Ansu Fati when he came on in the 60th minute for Ferran Torres, who continues to be lacklustre. There were more changes, but the one that changed everything was this one. In the blink of an eye Barça were 4-1 up, the last goal scored by Ansu Fati, the others by Ousmane Dembélé and Robert Lewandowski, both supplied by the youngster. Why doesn’t he play more? Surely he needs to be managed after his long injury, which made us fear for his future. He has the makings of a great player because of his perfect relationship with the ball, his teammates and the goal. With a fully fit Ansu Fati, Barça have a lot to say. And the national team, too.