Football Features

“If he is the future, then the future is now” – Youngsters shine bright but Barcelona drop points, drawing 2-2 with Osasuna

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 17:33, 12 December 2021


Gavi shone as Barcelona drew 2-2 away to Osasuna, dropping more points in a tight race for a top four spot in La Liga.

The Blaugrana twice took the lead through Nico Gonzalez and then Abde Ezzalzouli, but they were twice pegged back by a dogged Osasuna side that refused to give in. This now makes it three games without a win for the Blaugrana.

Result aside, though, this game showed why Xavi will be confident about turning Barcelona’s form around. The army of youngsters on the books at the Camp Nou is frankly obscene, and none are more ridiculous than Gavi.

Sure, Ansu Fati is a ridiculous goal machine when he can stay fit; but we’ve seen players like that before. And Pedri is obviously a beacon of Barcelona-style serenity, but again, we’ve seen those types of player emerge where they seem almost lab-engineered.

Gavi is different. Gavi is obviously a La Masia graduate with all the trappings and trimmings. A supremely technical midfielder who can produce magical moments of skill like his assist for Nico’s opening goal.

With all the creative burden falling on his shoulders, Gavi retained a cool head and just 12 minutes into the game looped a gorgeous curling through ball over the Osasuna defence to find Nico who finished superbly.

To produce a pass of such stupendous clarity would have been impressive for anyone, but for a teenager? A 17-year-old playing his first season in La Liga for a giant club really struggling? It’s doubly incredible.


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What came after was almost even better, though. Gavi kept on creating of course, often looking like Barcelona’s best bet of creating a goal as he found the ball in space and eluded markers and found team-mates in promising positions. One crossfield pass was particularly nice.

But in a game that was fast and furious, where Osasuna showed their beleaguered opponents no mercy and flew into challenges and powered forward on the break, Gavi quite ridiculous rose to their challenge every single time.

Seeing Gerard Piqué, Sergio Busquets and Ronald Araujo cope with Osasuna’s approach wasn’t a surprise given their experience and physical size, but Gavi is a short, skinny 17-year-old but played with more fight than anyone.

Gavi made an incredible 5 clearances, more than anyone besides Piqué. He also made 4 interceptions; again more than anyone besides Piqué. He also committed 5 fouls, which was a game-high. He was eternally combative, showing bigger and stronger opponents no fear.

If he couldn’t skill them up, if he couldn’t pass it beyond them, he would fight them until his lungs gave out. And it was that spirit that allowed Barcelona to, for the most part, stand up to the Osasuna pressure (until Chimy Avila’s late wonderstrike – but that wasn’t the kid’s fault, neither was Coutinho’s incredible stoppage time miss).

There is no quit in Gavi. And as much as he is a technical marvel, he also has the living, breathing soul of a street fighter. Shoelaces undone, tongue buried in his cheek as he gives hell to grown men men twice his size and age.

A pure warrior whose mental strength is not just impressive internally (like, say. Pedri’s) but who has an inspirational and motivational aura about him. If Barcelona are going to turn things around under Xavi, the energy, dynamism and, yes, leadership being offered by 17-year-old Gavi is going to be key.

If Gavi is the future, then the future is now.

✕︎

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