Ansu Fati becomes youngest Barça league scorer ever to save blaugrana blushes
Disappointment for Espanyol, while Catalans conquer Mont Blanc and the Basketball World Cup
At just sixteen years and 304 days, Ansu Fati has become the youngest player in FC Barcelona history to score a league goal. His headed equalizer in El Sadar against Osasuna helped the Catalans earn a hard-fought point in a match where they struggled to find their rhythm.
Brazilian midfielder Arthur helped Ernesto Valverde’s men rediscover their style when he was introduced in the second half, and his neatly finished shot gave the champions a 1-2 lead before the Navarrans came fighting back to share the points.
Fati was the surprise in Camp Nou last week when his late cameo made him the youngest player ever to don the Barcelona shirt, and his attacking impetus and bravery won him many plaudits, but scoring a vital goal in an away match when his teammates were lacking spark will bring his reputation up another level.
It was also another good day for Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy with another youngster, Carles Perez, being handed a second consecutive start in the team, due to the growing injury list in the Catalan capital. Perez got both assists for Barca’s goals, including the inch-perfect cross for Fati’s leveler.
The previous youngest La Liga goalscorer in Barcelona’s history was Bojan Krkic, who netted at the age of 17 years and 53 days, while Leo Messi is now the club’s third-youngest when he first got his name on the scoresheet at 17 years and 331 days - more than a year older than Ansu Fati is now.
Disappointment for Espanyol
After an enthralling week which saw Espanyol qualify for the group stages of the Europa League 12 years after their last appearance at this stage of European competition, David Gallego’s men came crashing back down to earth with a 0-3 loss at home to newly-promoted Granada.
The early league form in Cornellà-El Prat will leave fans worried, with only one point picked up from the opening three games.
Meanwhile late last week, the draws for the group stages of the Champions League and Europa League took place, letting Barcelona and Espanyol fans find out what trips their sides will make across the continent.
Barcelona were dealt a particularly difficult draw, with matches against Dortmund, Inter Milan, and Sparta Prague to come.
Espanyol will have trips to Russia, Hungary, and Bulgaria, to take on CSKA Moscow, Ferencvaros, and Ludogorets.
Catalans shine at Basketball World Cup
The 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup got underway in China over the weekend. In Group C, Spain were drawn alongside Tunisia, Puerto Rico, and Iran, and Catalan Ricky Rubio was the highlight of the opening day fixture against Tunisia.
The Phoenix Suns player from El Masnou scored 17 points and made 9 assists in the victory, while Marc Gasol (10) and Pau Ribas (12) also hit double figures for points scored.
On Monday, Spain played their second game, and beat Puerto Rico 73-63. Again the Catalan players shone, with Gasol contributing 19 points towards the tally and Rubio matching his performance against Tunisia with 17 points again. The pair were also game leaders for rebounds, picking up 8 (Rubio) and 7 (Gasol).
Vuelta a España controversy
With just five kilometers remaining in stage nine of the Vuelta a España on Sunday, Catalan rider Marc Soler led the pack alone. However, his Movistar team instructed him to give up the lead he had built from attacking during tough weather conditions in order to wait for and help teammate Nairo Quintana, who now holds a six-second advantage in the general classification for the race.
Soler was visibly annoyed with the message passed to him, as cameras caught the then-stage leader shaking his head and throwing an arm in the air. Team director Pablo Lastras explained to the media following the incident that Soler misunderstood his role and “needs to listen and mature,” according to Lastras. Ahead of Monday morning’s stage, the cyclist publicly apologized for his behaviour.
Conquering the Alps
Pau Capell has become the first non-French winner of the Mont-Blanc Ultra Trail since compatriot Kilian Jornet won it in 2011. Capell, from Sant Boi de Llobregat just outside Barcelona city, began with an unusually aggressive start, as he took the lead from the beginning and held onto it for the full 171km.
The Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc is known as one of the most gruelling races in the world, including a total elevation of over 10,000 metres. In the end, Capell finished with a time of 20 hours, 19 minutes, and 7 seconds, a winning margin of 48 minutes and 49 seconds.
Women’s football returns this week
After a season which saw Barcelona reach their first Champions League final, numerous record-breaking attendances across Spain, and a hugely successful Women’s World Cup, a highly anticipated new season of the Liga Iberdrola kicks off this coming weekend, with women’s football growing strongly year on year.
Barcelona kick off their campaign with a home match against newly promoted CD Tacón, the team that Real Madrid recently took over to form their women’s side. Meanwhile, Espanyol take on Deportivo La Coruña away from home in their opening fixture.
Also within the city of Barcelona, the women’s Torneig d’Històrics kicks off this Saturday and Sunday. Terrassa and Sabadell go head-to-head in one semifinal, with Júpiter and hosts Martinenc battling it out in the other, with the final to be played between the winners the following day.