A much-changed Barcelona secured a 4-0 victory away to Cadiz on Saturday evening.
A slow first half preceded strikes from Frenkie de Jong and Robert Lewandowski, both of whom tapped home from close range to secure the victory, before a lengthy delay due a medical emergency saw play paused for almost an hour.
Medical staff managed to evacuate the supporter in question before play resumed, after which Ansu Fati and Ousmane Dembele added a third and fourth goal.
Barcelona looked dangerous early on and Raphinha saw a strike cannon back off the post inside the first ten minutes.
The hosts did well to hold on and even posed a threat of their own, with their high press causing a handful of nervy moments for Barcelona at the back, although they never really looked like creating anything of note and instead focused on restricting the amount of chances on offer to Xavi’s side.
Shortly before the interval, VAR chose not to intervene after Alex Balde went down in the box under duress from Ivan Alejo, leaving Xavi shaking his head as the referee blew for half time.
Cadiz were the stronger side in the early stages of the second half and Fede San Emeterio will have been frustrated not to have made more of a ball that dropped his way in the box, firing over the bar when he should have done better.
Just seconds later, Barcelona went down the other end and opened the scoring. Gavi’s cut-back was palmed into the path of De Jong, who tapped home into an empty net to put the Blaugrana ahead. Xavi celebrated by bringing Lewandowski, Dembele and Pedri off the bench. Not bad.
Unsurprisingly, Barcelona looked more fluid with those three on the field and Sergio Busquets wasn’t far off adding a second as he sent his long drive narrowly over the bar.
The second did come 25 minutes from time and the sight of Lewandowski peeling away in celebration came as little surprise. The Pole started the move and pounced on the scraps from two yards out to remove any doubt about the victory.
However, the result became meaningless in the late stages of the game as a medical emergency in the crowd paused proceedings in the 82nd minute. Players from both sides left the pitch after 20 minutes and returned once it was deemed safe to do so to play out the remaining stages.
Ansu Fati added a third before the full-time whistle, finishing off a nice move from Lewandowski, before a glorious solo goal from Dembele brought things to a close.
GK: Marc-Andre ter Stegen – 6/10 – Some nice play out from the back but was barely needed all game.
RB: Hector Bellerin – 5/10 – Clearly needs more time to adapt. Off the pace going forwards and offered very little at either end. Did make a solid pass for the second goal.
CB: Ronald Araujo – 6/10 – His passing left a little to be desired but Araujo was as solid as ever at the back. Dealt well with Cadiz’s pressure.
CB: Gerard Pique – 7/10 – Did well on his first league appearance of the season. Had plenty of fans enjoying his performance through gritted teeth.
LB: Alejandro Balde – 7/10 – Got forwards wherever possible and had to do twice as much attacking as normal to make up for Torres’ disappearing act in the first half.
DM: Sergio Busquets – 6/10 – Did his job of pulling the strings from deep without really making anything happen.
CM: Gavi – 8/10 – Just does so much at both ends of the field. Adores the dirty work and goes right down the other end to pick a pass, just as he did for the opener. A joy to watch.
CM: Frenkie de Jong – 8/10 – Played very high up to try and make things happen and did a pretty decent job of it. Nice movement for the opener.
RW: Raphinha – 6/10 – Can’t fault his effort but Raphinha struggled to break down Cadiz’s stubborn defence. Nice play for De Jong’s opener.
ST: Memphis Depay – 5/10 – Dropped deep to try and help the build-up but inadvertedly left Barcelona without a focal point.
LW: Ferran Torres – 4/10 – Clearly tried hard but everything he did seemed to go wrong. Couldn’t figure out when to keep the ball and when to pass.
SUB: Pedri (57′ for Gavi) – 7/10 – Some great touches and vision.
SUB: Ousmane Dembele (57′ for Torres) – 8/10 – Instantly made a difference with his agility and dribbling. Stepped things up a level. Glorious goal.
SUB: Robert Lewandowski (57′ for Memphis) – 8/10 – Offered the focal point that his side were looking for. Unsurprisingly got his goal just moments after coming on.
SUB: Ansu Fati (72′ for Raphinha) – 6/10 – Had one excellent dribble and a routine goal to score.
SUB: Marcos Alonso (78′ for Balde) – N/A
Manager: Xavi – 5/10 – Rested his top players but changed nothing to his system and that made for tough watching at times. His only tactical adjustment was bringing on his best players.
Player of the Match – Frenkie de Jong
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Newcastle set to finalise deal for Garang Kuol
Australia international Garang Kuol is set to finalise a move to Newcastle United, sources have told 90min.
90min revealed earlier this month that Newcastle were in talks with his club Central Coast Mariners, and now a deal is understood to be in place with Eddie Howe’s side seeing off competition from various clubs, including German giants Borussia Dortmund.
Newcastle were waiting for Kuol to complete his international duty with Australia this month before finalising the deal. The 18-year-old made his debut against New Zealand on Sunday and is now believed to be heading to Europe.
Kuol and his camp have already agreed terms with Newcastle ahead of a move that would be finalised in January – at which point the Magpies will decide on what to do with him in the short-term.
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As it stands, Kuol would not qualify for a work permit, but that matter could change quickly if he is involved at the World Cup finals. This won’t be known until manager Graham Arnold names his squad in a few weeks.
Newcastle are understood to already have a plan in place to send Kuol on loan to another league in Europe – the length of which will be determined by his work permit standing.
Jurgen Klinsmann & Danny Williams on why so many USMNT players succeed in Germany
Germany has long been a breeding ground for American players, but why do so many success stories from across the pond begin their European adventure there?
The United States men’s national team’s biggest stars first trained in the Bundesliga before making their jump elsewhere, from Christian Pulisic to Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams. Giovanni Reyna, meanwhile, is continuing his rapid rise with Borussia Dortmund.
This is nothing new, with the likes of Landon Donovan and Fabian Johnson all using the German top-flight to kick-start successful careers at both club and international levels.
So, is it the similarities in culture between the United States and Germany that makes it such an attractive destination, the style of play, or something else?
“I think culture-wise, Germany and the US are very similar. They’re two countries that are full of ‘doers’. They don’t want to wait for the other nations, they’re just doing their thing. America is doing its own thing and Germans just like to go ahead and do their thing,” former USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann told 90min.
“The German culture is very open to young talent coming in and giving it a shot, try it out, see how far you can take it. And if it doesn’t work, you can still go back home, no problem at all. The Bundesliga is known for giving young players chances. 17, 18, 19 years of age. If you’re good, that’s all it takes, the coach will throw you into the cold water and you’ve got to swim, and if the water is too cold, no problem, we can slow down the process.”
As a former US international who was born and raised in Germany, Danny Williams has experienced the pathway between the two countries better than most. The 33-year-old midfielder got his break at Freiburg back in 2010 and also went on to represent Hoffenheim before playing in England with Reading and Huddersfield Town.
He echoed Klinsmann’s sentiments regarding Germany’s willingness to give youth a try, owing – in his opinion – to the country’s much smaller ownership model when compared to clubs in the Premier League.
“I think Germany is one of the best places to develop as a young player because most of the clubs don’t have big owners and there isn’t as much money around like at Chelsea, Arsenal, or Tottenham,” Williams told 90min.
“That’s fine because they still go on and play for those clubs if they succeed in Germany. The tactical and technical education is very good in Germany. I was fortunate enough to go through my youth in these academies and what you learn there is amazing. What I really like about Bundesliga is these young guys are given a chance and they’re trusted by the coach to make the step into the first team, have game time, and not come and be replaced by a superstar if you don’t perform in one or two games, like at Man Utd. They’re a bit more patient with you.”
Across his time in charge of the USMNT and as head coach of multiple Bundesliga outfits, including Bayern Munich, Klinsmann has seen first-hand just how players can excel in Germany, with so many American stars across Europe owing their success to the country.
“I think over decades now, the Bundesliga has proven that model, that’s why a lot of young players give it a shot,” Klinsmann added.
“It’s just wonderful to see so many American players fight their way through it. Maybe they end up in another league but at the end of the day, they have their starting point in the Bundesliga where they become really good, especially if you’re talking about players like Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, or Tyler Adams. It’s a calibre of player that’s rare to have so many of them in the United States.”
Klinsmann and Williams spoke to 90min at the ‘Bundesliga Common Ground Project Event’ in NYC. For information and more from Williams and Klinsmann, check out our latest our article here and more of our video content from the event on our Twitter and Instagram.
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