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Barcelona dropped points for the second time in three matches to start the 2019/20 season in La Liga after being held to a 2-2 draw by Osasuna on Saturday, despite Ansu Fati becoming the club’s youngest-ever goalscorer in La Liga.
Fati came off the bench to head in an equaliser at El Sadar Stadium and cancel out Roberto Torres’ seventh-minute volley. Arthur Melo put Barca in front before Torres equalised from the penalty spot in the 81st minute after Gerard Pique’s handball.
The stalemate means the champions have just four points, following a 1-0 defeat away to Athletic Bilbao and a 5-2 home win over Real Betis. Barca desperately need the goals and influence of injured forwards Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, who missed out again.
Meanwhile, Osasuna have maintained an unbeaten start after winning promotion back to Spain’s top flight last season.
The hosts had Barca reeling when Torres connected brilliantly on the volley from inside the box. His fine effort left Marc-Andre ter Stegen with no chance.
It marks the third game in a row in which Barca have conceded first. A sluggish approach at the back hasn’t helped, with Clement Lenglet easily beaten by Osasuna forward Brandon who crossed for industrious No. 10 Torres to finish.
Barcelona’s attempts to respond were hampered by a pedestrian midfield. The men in the middle weren’t moving the ball quick enough and often settling for the safe pass rather than chancing their ability to unlock Osasuna’s defensive block.
Summer signing Frenkie de Jong appeared particularly off the pace. The former Ajax star’s decision-making was leaving a lot to be desired:
Stilted production from the engine room meant a Barca forward line led by Antoine Griezmann had few chances to change the game:
Ernesto Valverde needed to alter the pattern of play and wisely chose to add greater athleticism and ingenuity in midfield. He brought Arthur Melo and precocious academy graduate Fati off the bench.
The latter made the telling impact when he flicked a header in after meeting a cross from fellow youth product Carles Perez. In the process, Fati made club history:
He also earned some plaudits for Valverde, who hasn’t been shy about giving the teenager chances to impress:
Barca’s development of young talent, along with Valverde’s instinct for making the right changes, paid off again when Perez teed up Arthur to put the away side in front for the first time.
Perez, 21, was continuing to impress after scoring in the 5-2 win over Real Betis at the Camp Nou on Sunday. However, his quality was wasted with Barca failing to build on the lead, with Griezmann struggling to time his runs and beat a well-drilled Osasuna offside trap.
The hosts stayed resilient and earned a chance to equalise when Pique blocked a cross from Oier Sanjurjo with his arm. Torres duly converted from 12 yards to earn Osasuna a worthy point and continue the club’s love of home comforts.
Barca’s future looks bright thanks to Fati and Perez, but the return of Messi and Suarez is essential to continue the club’s present dominance of the domestic scene.
Barca host Valencia on September 14, while Osasuna will be away to Real Valladolid the next day.