Orlandi: Fati is ‘special’ player to lead Barcelona in new Clásico era


nsu Fati can light up El Clásico this Sunday, and he’s one of many youngsters who can lead Barcelona’s revival into a new era.

He is fearless and doesn’t feel any pressure, which is a very rare trait for anyone in football, let alone for someone of his age. He’s already proven he can score in El Clásico so he is the man they will turn to on Sunday.

Since Lionel Messi’s departure, Fati has taken the No.10 shirt and he’s just signed a new six-year deal. Fati and Pedri, who also recently signed a new long-term contract, are Barcelona’s future, and tying them down was needed.

So far, Fati has been wearing the No.10 shirt with ease. It’s the heaviest shirt to wear in world football, but it doesn’t phase him. And in a match like El Clásico, that could be crucial. He’s one of those players that’s got goals in him. You know that he’s going to get you goals and in important games as well. And no match in world football is as important as El Clásico.

After spending most of last season on the sidelines, Fati made his first start of 2021/22 at home to Valencia last weekend, scoring an excellent goal from outside the box.

Fati started at left wing with Sergino Dest on the right in what appeared a traditional 4-3-3 on paper, but defensively they were a back five with Dest able to drop in when they lost the ball. No one noticed, so no one criticised Koeman for ‘defensive’ tactics, but if you are Barcelona and you play with five at the back it is a fallacy – and often criticised by fans.

However, I expect Koeman to set up the same way on Sunday afternoon, when Barcelona welcome rivals Real Madrid to the Camp Nou, live on LaLigaTV at 3.15pm BST. Dest will play on the right and will be quick to support defensively against Vinicius Jr – Real Madrid’s young star with a career path seemingly on a similar trajectory to Fati.

Likewise, I expect Carlo Ancelotti to set up very similarly with a defensive right winger in Federico Valverde to deal with the dual threat of Jordi Alba and Fati.

Sharing the wing with Alba means Fati has licence to roam and tuck in, allowing the marauding full-back to overlap and get into dangerous areas. This allows him to play closer to Memphis Depay and even in the glimpses we’ve seen so far this season, Barca fans must be reminded of the link-up between Messi and Luis Suarez in the way Fati plays one-twos with Memphis.

It was very interesting to see them combine, and I’m sure there’s more to come. Fati is probably the main threat now in attack and the main Barcelona threat will come down the left-hand side.

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