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Luuk de Jong dresses up as a superhero again to save Barça (2-3)

BarcelonaWhen Barça suffer, the time has come for Luuk de Jong, the man of saving goals. As if it were a challenge, Xavi’s Barça have recently decided to go ahead without playing particularly well. Playing with fire. If in Frankfurt he survived suffering bravely, in the field of the East he raised the marker thanks to a saving goal of the Dutchman in the last minutes. Xavi’s changes and a key stop by Ter Stegen also served to turn around a game where Barça did not feel at all comfortable. Against physical and electrical equipment, well closed with a defense of five, Xavi’s Barça squeaks a little. It will be his turn to improve, to keep growing, although it is always easier to advance with three points in the basket.

The match at the Levante field looked like the second part of the Frankfurt film, with a relentless Barça overtaken every time the local footballers ran out like arrows, on the contrary. It seemed as if the match against Eintracht had not served to alert the Barça players that they need to put their leg up and grit their teeth against rivals cut from the same pattern. And more, when they play so much. The Eintracht was playing to make history and the Levante, to avoid going down. At Barça, on the other hand, at times he seemed lazy about the game, as if, after scoring at the Santiago Bernabéu, everything seemed less attractive. That 0-4 thrashing was the beginning of a new era, like the day you sign the papers to move into a new flat. What no one imagined was that a group of noisy German tourists would pass through the front floor and then the family of José Luis Morales, a footballer from another time, from whom he was born to dribble. The veteran captain of the Levant was a crow during a first half where if anyone did merits to score, it was the team coached by Alessio Lisci. Eric Garcia, however, left Morales with a slap in the face when he took a play from the goal line messianesca of Morales.

Xavi Hernández had given Pedri a break, so he made Nico play and put Dani Alves aside. Without Piqué, Eric Garcia took a step forward, but the problem was in the middle of the field, where there was no light or legs. Dembélé, after so many days of words of love with Xavi, seemed distracted, as before. Only Ferran tried, from time to time, when the ball hit him. Nothing came out of a Barça that seemed to be the victim of a spell, trapped by the weight of the past, with old flaws and old fears. Luck still from the lack of aim of a Levante who needed a penalty to dream. Alves, innocently, put his arm in front of Son, who exaggerated as much as he could. And Morales did not fail.

Football, however, has 90 minutes and a lot of nuances. But the course of a match can be decided by a single detail, a single decision, such as that of the Levant to make Roger take charge of the penalty kick they had shortly after by clear hands of Eric Garcia. In the whole league, Barça had not been whistled for a penalty against him and, suddenly, in five minutes, they had whistled two. Ter Stegen, however, guessed Roger’s shot, and gave the go-ahead to the reaction of a Barça player who had played with fire. From 2-0, it went in a few seconds to the goal of the tie with a goal created by two good friends who did not have the day, until then. A cross from Ousmane Dembélé and a header from Aubameyang, to put fear in the body of the locals. And as in Frankfurt, the changes of Xavi, who gave way to the staple of Gavi and the quality of Pedri, served to finish the job with a play of the naughty Andalusian and another important goal of the canary, that ‘ he is in charge of removing the chestnuts from the fire even on the day he had to rest, against a candidate for relegation to Second. The job seemed done. As if it were an unimportant scare. But top-notch football doesn’t forgive you, if you trust yourself.

And Levante suffers, but it is a very worthy team, which did not give up. And in the final minutes he forced a third penalty. No penalties in the entire league and all of a sudden three. It was a bad day for the usually speedy Lenglet. However, the referee was unimpressed, and booked him for diving. Ter Stegen couldn’t stop Melero’s shot, which condemned Barça to a draw that would have done as much harm as defeat. For the rival, for the context, for the game offered and to know that the League is a utopia. Luuk de Jong, however, dressed as a hero, again, and finished off a cross from Jordi Alba. The Eintracht and the Levant, as did the slaves holding a laurel wreath over the heads of emperors and generals returning to Rome after winning a battle, have reminded Barça that he is deadly, and that now he has a recovered game idea and good players, can not relax. There is still work to be done, but waiting for more stability, Luuk de Jong embodies Barça’s hunger to grow up again. You can’t always win by playing well. And to do that when you have three penalties against you means that you have a lot of faith. Others need three penalties in their favor.

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