From Lewandowski’s scare to Lamine Yamal’s record | Soccer | Sports
In the Barcelona locker room they knew that the visit to the Do Dragão Stadium would be hostile. For João Félix, of course, whistled on every ball he touched because of his past as a Benfica player; also for Barcelona football, overwhelmed by the intense pressure of Sérgio Conceiçao’s boys. “In the previous round we had talked about the fact that here was half the classification. We have shown that we are very good with the ball, but that we also know how to suffer without the ball,” analyzed Ferran Torres. And Xavi Hernández joined in: “Yesterday we were talking about imposing our personality. The first part is very good. In the talk I already mentioned that it was very important to play in the opposite field. We were not good in the second half. Without having played our best game, we have added three vital points. We haven’t played well, but we will.”
Xavi, then, had no choice but to rectify: he covered Oriol Romeu with Gündogan to enhance the Blaugrana’s ball delivery. The German midfielder’s step back freed Gavi, without success in the attack, with Lewandowski away from the Porto goal. A gray Polish night that ended in the worst way. A tackle by David Carmo in the 21st minute left the striker injured. He tried to hold on, but to no avail. After half an hour, Lewandowski asked for a change. A problem for Xavi, who has a short squad (19 players, plus Lamine Yamal and Fermín) and already has four players in the infirmary: De Jong, Pedri, Raphinha and now the Pole. Barcelona’s medical services reassured the coaching staff. Initially, Lewandowski only suffers a bruise on his left ankle. “Lamine felt bad. He had been telling me for a while that he felt bad, that he was unwell. That he had a stomach ache. We took advantage of a break, but he couldn’t continue,” said Xavi. And he added: “We have time to recover most of the players. Let’s hope that everyone’s situation is a small matter.”
Relief for Xavi and also for Lewandowski, who received a surprise ovation from the Dragons fans when he was replaced. What the Porto fans didn’t know was that the remedy for Barcelona’s attack was on the bench. Ferran Torres, self-proclaimed the Shark this season to motivate himself in the face of adversity, would give his team peace of mind. “You have to take advantage of every minute because it is very expensive to play for Barça,” said Ferran.
The Valencian still alternates good with bad, closer to the goal than last season. So far he has scored four goals in his last nine games in all competitions, the same as he had scored in the previous 32. In Porto, in the same stadium where Leo Messi debuted in 2004 with Barça, Xavi initially preferred the ability of Lamine Yamal, who became the youngest player to debut as a starter in the Champions League (16 years and 83 days), to Ferran’s good form. Lewandowski’s injury forced him to rectify. And, Barça, after two seasons, is finally breathing in Europe. “This is the most difficult club in the world. You win 1-0 and people see the glass half empty. That doesn’t happen in any other club. We needed this. We were missing a win in Europe. We suffered a lot in the end,” concluded Xavi Hernández.
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