“It has been a spectacular comeback. A comeback of faith, of desire to win. We have truly believed until the end. We have played with faith, with courage. We will analyze the errors. When you don’t play well, you have to take out these things,” analyzed Xavi Hernández. Robert Lewandowski waved his arms. It was the 81st minute, when the striker had just made it 1-2 and asked his teammates for more effort. The Pole’s attitude had an effect. Four minutes later he scored the tie, so that Cancelo, in the 89th minute, closed the scoring.
Ter Stegen, Cancelo, A. Christensen (Alex Balde, 60 minutes), Koundé, Marcos Alonso (Lamine Yamal, 45 minutes), Frenkie De Jong (Gavi, 35 minutes), Gündogan, Oriol Romeu (Ronald Araújo, min.) 45), Ferran Torres (Raphinha, min. 72), João Felix and Lewandowski
Iván Villar, Carl Starfelt, Carlos Domínguez, Mihailo Ristic, Unai Núñez (Miguel Rodriguez, min. 93), Óscar Mingueza, Jonathan Bamba (Carlos Dotor, min. 94), Luca De La Torre, Fran Beltrán, Jorgen Strand Larsen (Tasos Douvikas, min. 65) and Aspas (Williot Swedberg, min. 77)
Goals 0-1 min. 18: Jorgen Strand Larsen. 0-2 min. 76: Level Douvikas. 1-2 min. 80: Lewandowski. 2-2 min. 85: Lewandowski. 3-2 min. 89: Cancelo.
Referee Mario Melero López
Yellow cards A. Christensen (min. 35), Gavi (min. 39) and Unai Núñez (min. 43)
“Today demonstrates a generational change. In this club, with a 0-2, it was 0-3. You have to rebel against that. This generation of young people, who have a different mentality, go to the end. It is a sign of winning character, we also have to be epic,” insisted the Barcelona coach. And Cancelo added: “We haven’t played well, but the important thing is that we win the three points. We were patient and the most important thing is the three points.”
The best Barcelona since Xavi faltered against Rafa Benítez’s balanced and generous Celta. After two consecutive 5-0 victories and with the certainty that the team, finally, resembled what he wanted, Xavi opted for changes against the Galician team. He did not touch, of course, Lewandowski. “We have talked about it with the players. Robert told me that he was doing very well. I asked him how he was doing and he told me that he was in a very good state of confidence. He gave us two vital goals,” explained Xavi.
But what started with Marcos Alonso, Oriol Romeu, Ferran Torres for Balde, Gavi and Raphinha compared to the eleven that had beaten Antwerp last Tuesday, ended with a carousel of changes, some due to injury (Frenkie De Jong, with problems in the ankle), other tactics, which only came together at the end of the duel, more out of rebellion than football, undoubtedly thanks to the power of Lewandowski and the opportunism of Cancelo. “We have intervened a lot. But I’m not here to show my chest. We have been brave. The players have believed it. We ask you to dare, that it is okay to fail, to continue until the end. Cancelo has not played his best game, but he has had faith, he gives the assist, he comes in on the second line as we have trained… without playing well, you win a vital match for us,” said Xavi.
“Personally, I was having a very bad game. He was out of his mind and was having a lot of technical errors, which is unusual for me. But you have to be focused and, look, it was worth the three points,” said the Portuguese. It wasn’t just Cancelo who was lost. Benítez’s plan worked. “If it had been perfect, we would have won,” the coach said. Celta finished with one more shot on goal than Barça (seven compared to six). “Xavi has read well and has taken good advantage of the weapons he has. The quality and depth of his squad is superior,” Benítez concluded.
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