Barcelona ended a three-game winning streak with a 3-0 win over Levante at the Camp Nou on Sunday as Ansu Fati scored on his first appearance in 10 months.
Ansu, 18, has been out of action since November with a knee injury, but came back as a substitute in the second half against Levante to add Barcelona’s third goal in stoppage time.
Two quick goals in the first half were 15 minutes before Barcelona gave full control of the confrontation. Memphis Depay won and converted a penalty and Luke de Jong scored his first goal for his new club after good work from Sergino Dest.
The win, which kept Barcelona unbeaten during the first six matches in La Liga, relieves some of the pressure on coach Ronald Koeman, who watched this match from the stands as he was suspended on the touchline.
Barcelona are going through a difficult period, but they have a lot to be excited about. Ansu, who wears Lionel Messi’s old No. 10 jersey, will win the headlines here. His goal was to inject the positivity that the Camp Nou needed. It was also an emotional moment he celebrated with the team doctors and his family in the stands. His father was crying.
It wasn’t just about Ansu, though. For large parts of the match, 17-year-old midfielder Jaffe was the standout player. Another young midfielder, Nico Gonzalez, 19, also impressed with his first start with the club.
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There was none of that dominant performance, which also came on the back of Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid losing points this weekend. Levante didn’t hit until the last 10 minutes, but it must be remembered that Barcelona have been facing a team without a league win since April.
Manager rating out of 10
6 Koeman was sent off in Cadiz on Thursday so he wasn’t on the bench here. However, he did get to pick his team up. He was rewarded for putting his trust in youngsters Nico and Jaffe, with a loose 4-2-3-1 formation that produced Barcelona’s best pressing performance in months.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players presented after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 6 – He made one late save from Alejandro Cantero but didn’t have much to do.
DF Oscar Mingoza, 7 Another solid showing at right back. Playing one great pass over the top to give Gavi a chance.
DF Gerard Pique, 7 – The old head in the back four. At the age of 34, he was playing alongside a 22-year-old and two 20-year-olds, but his experience is significant in this regard.
DF Eric Garcia, 7 – Steady performance from the summer signing, who read the match well and fainted from behind well.
DF Sergino Dest, 8 The USA international had his best performance of the season. He was electric on the left, assisted De Jong’s goal and created a number of chances throughout the match.
MF Sergio Busquets, 7 – He looked good alongside Nico and also found time to show off his trademark appearances, entertaining a 35,000 audience.
MF Nico Gonzalez, 7 – He looked wobbly early on but developed into the match on his full start. It is powerful and reads the game well and keeps it simple. He will have a lot of chances this season.
MF Gavi, 8 – This will probably be copied and pasted this season, but it was a pretty cool show from a 17-year-old who belies his years. He knows where and when to be, uses his body well and is great on the ball. He has the attributes of a star.
MF Philippe Coutinho, 6 He still feels like he’s back after a nine-month injury. These minutes will benefit him and he has bonded well with those around him in his favorite central role.
FW Memphis Savings, 8 A danger to Levante all afternoon. He wiggled his way out of all kinds of trouble, winning and scoring the penalty kick that opened the scoring. The only downside is that he didn’t score again given the chances he had.
FW Luuk de Jong, 6 Good game from No. 9. He scored well and worked hard.
MF Riqui Puig, 6 – He had an almost immediate effect, creating a chance for Memphis before hanging out in the penalty area only to delay his shot.
FW Ansu Fati, 8 – What an incredible young man. Coming back after more than 10 months and playing like he did for 15 minutes was amazing. Although perhaps, given the impact he made as a 16-year-old in La Liga and the Champions League, it should come as no surprise that he didn’t feel the pressure.
DF Ronald Araujo, NR – He rested in the Benfica and Atletico Madrid matches this week but came late.
FW Yusuf Demir NR – Replace Gavi for the last 10 minutes or so.
DF Clement Lenglet, NR – Arrived at the destination in added time.