In La Liga, 17-year-old newcomer Marc Guiu made his debut memorable by scoring with only his second touch, securing a thrilling win for Barcelona against Athletic Club on Sunday evening. Guiu’s inclusion in the squad was a surprise, and he seized the opportunity at the senior level when he entered the game in the 79th minute, sprinting toward the goal and calmly placing the ball past Unai Simon, Spain’s number one goalkeeper. This victory brings Barcelona within just one point of La Liga leaders Real Madrid as they prepare for El Clasico next week.
The combination play between Ferran Torres and Joao Felix was particularly impressive in the early moments of the match, almost resulting in a goal after just ten minutes. Despite being set up by an excellent through ball from Inigo Martinez over the Athletic Club defense, Ferran’s first-time shot found only the crossbar and sailed over the goal.
Three minutes later, youngster Fermin Lopez came close to opening the scoring. Thanks to some skillful wing play from Alejandro Balde, who raced down the left flank and delivered the ball to Fermin inside the box. Unlike Felix, Fermin kept his first-time shot low and on target but was denied by a fine save from Unai Simon in goal.
Barcelona almost paid for those missed opportunities when the in-form Inaki Williams forced Marc-Andre ter Stegen into a smart save with a spectacular volleyed effort from the edge of the penalty area in the 20th minute. Ter Stegen once again came to the rescue on the stroke of half-time, sticking out his left leg to deny Nico Williams’ low, powerful strike from finding the bottom corner of the net.
Barcelona started the second half with a lot of determination, putting pressure on Simon and forcing him into two rapid-fire saves. Simon first dived to save a shot from Ferran and then reacted brilliantly to get a hand on Fermin’s follow-up effort from just eight yards out.
Substitute Lamine Yamal had a golden opportunity to give Barcelona the lead just after the hour mark. He was set up by Joao Felix after a skillful run across the pitch but, with only the goalkeeper to beat, Yamal failed to even hit the target, firing wide of the right post.
The long-awaited goal finally came in the 80th minute, and it came from an unlikely source. In his Barcelona senior debut, 17-year-old Marc Guiu received a through ball from Felix and made no mistake with his finish from the right side of the penalty area, side-footing the ball under Simon’s body and into the net.
Barcelona Player Ratings:
- Marc-Andre ter Stegen (GK) – 7/10: Made some crucial saves in the first half to thwart the Williams brothers.
- Joao Cancelo (RB) – 6/10: Faced some defensive challenges against Nico but contributed well in attack when he had the chance.
- Andreas Christensen (CB) – 5/10: Struggled to cope with Athletic’s pace up top.
- Inigo Martinez (CB) – 7/10: Impressed with his long passes out of defense throughout the game.
- Alejandro Balde (LB) – 6/10: Caused problems with his energetic runs into the final third and created the best chance of the first half.
- Gavi (CM) – 6/10: Received a yellow card but worked diligently in midfield.
- Oriol Romeu (CM) – 5/10: Used the ball well when in possession but was caught off guard by Athletic Club’s swift transitions.
- Ilkay Gundogan (CM) – 7/10: Had a nearly flawless evening, delivering a typical Gundogan performance.
- Fermin Lopez (RW) – 6/10: Showed energy but lacked a bit of quality in the box, missing several good chances.
- Ferran Torres (ST) – 6/10: Formed a good partnership with Felix at times and hit the crossbar early in the game.
- Joao Felix (LW) – 9/10: The standout player on the field, orchestrating Barcelona’s attacks in the final third and setting up the winning goal late in the match.
- onald Araujo (SUB for Christensen, 60′) – 6/10.
- Lamine Yamal (SUB for Romeu, 60′) – 6/10: Missed a golden opportunity to score when he came on.
- Marc Guiu (SUB for Fermin, 79′) – 8/10: Scored the winning goal and celebrated with great enthusiasm.
- Marcos Alonso (SUB for Balde, 79′) – N/A
Manager – Xavi Hernandez – 7/10: The team didn’t have a great performance, but they won because Xavi had the courage to introduce a relatively unknown young player upfront late in the game. Xavi’s success in nurturing Barcelona’s La Masia talent was evident once again on Sunday.