Xavi handed Lamine Yamal a start in attack when Barcelona hosted Cádiz at the Olimpic Lluis Companys stadium on Sunday night. It was a display of his trust in the talented 16-year-old and also a statement from the Barcelona head coach, with Ansu Fati and Ferran Torres on the bench.
Cádiz netminder Jeremías Ledesma denied the teenager just before the half-hour mark with a super stop that saw the Argentinian tip the fizzed curler around the post.
Cádiz had their own chances, too, but Barça goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen was at his best. The German goalkeeper has started this season like the last one, where he played a key role in the club’s La Liga-winning season.
Ten minutes before the break he stood up to Cádiz forward Roger Martí in a one-on-one, pulling off a fine save. Barcelona’s second captain was keen to record his second clean sheet in as many games and continued to keep the Yellow Submarine at bay after their long trip north.
Last season, Ter Stegen got off to a flying start, conceding just one goal in the first eight games and then going on to equal a record he was probably unaware of at the beginning of the campaign. In 2022-23, he went 26 games unbeaten between the sticks like fellow shot-stopper Paco Liaño with Deportivo in the 1993-94 season.
Former Osasuna loanee Ez Abde tried his luck from just outside the area as Barcelona looked to break the deadlock but Ledesma was there to thwart another effort in the 80th minute.
It wasn’t until the 82nd minute and when the sun had gone down that Barcelona took the lead against the Andalusian side when Pedri finished low from close range after a delightful through ball from former Manchester City creator Ilkay Gündogan.
The midfielder from the Canary Islands scored the first Blaugrana goal in their temporary return to the Olimpic Lluis Companys stadium and it was also their first of the campaign after the goalless draw against Getafe in the opening game of the season.
But this goal was also a special one for Pedri, and as soon as he scored, he went to the Barcelona dugout where Carlos Naval, the club delegate, was waiting for him with a t-shirt with the words “Fuerza Tenerife” (Stay strong Tenerife).
Pedri hails from Bajamar, a coastal town in the northwest of the island of Tenerife, and was sending a message of support to his countrymen, who are being affected by the wildfire currently destroying parts of the island.
Ferran Torres put the icing on the cake with a fine solo run and finish to make it 2-0 in the 94th minute of the match. Xavi’s side have their first win of the La Liga season.
Kieran Quaile | GSFN