FC Barcelona beat Valencia 3-1 at Camp Nou. Ansu Fati, Barca’s new number 10 after Messi’s departure, led the attack, as the Blaugrana came from one behind to get the three points.
Memphis Depay and Coutinho were also on the scoresheet. The game on Sunday also marked Kun Aguero’s debut in the Barcelona shirt following his summer move from Manchester City.
Jose Gaya gave Valencia a dream start with a beautiful goal, but Barcelona regrouped and put three past their former keeper, Cillessen, for a much-needed victory. Ronald Koeman changed tactics, playing a back four and offering Ansu Fati his first start since his full recovery from injury. Fati equalized following a neat one-two link with Memphis Depay, then forced the ref to award a penalty before halftime, with the Dutch forward making it 2-1 for the hosts.
Carlos Soler hit the post for Valencia, then missed another big chance in front of Ter Stegen before Coutinho netted with ease to send Barcelona even further ahead. The credit for the assist went to Sergino Dest, who worked his way past two opponents to find the Brazilian in an excellent position.
FINAL #BarçaValencia 3-1
— LaLiga (@LaLiga) October 17, 2021
The game didn’t finish without Kun Aguero making his awaited Barca debut. The Argentine came on to replace Dest in the final minutes of the match. Troubled by injury, he wasn’t available to play until now. Aguero joined over the summer as a free agent after his contract with Manchester City came to an end.
The moment Kun Aguero made his Barcelona debut 👏 pic.twitter.com/3UFYcbGJiE
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) October 17, 2021
Fifty thousand people attended the game at Camp Nou. Barcelona now sits seventh on the La Liga table, with 15 points from eight games, five behind league leaders Real Sociedad. Barca has the advantage of having played one game less than Sociedad up to this point.
Barcelona survived the first of the three vital clashes they’re playing in just eight days. On Wednesday, they host Dynamo Kyiv in the Champions League before ending the week with the much anticipated El Clasico on Sunday when Real Madrid comes visiting in what could be the game that decides Ronald Koeman’s permanence on the Barcelona bench. The Dutchman is still under pressure after a series of dismal results. The 3-1 win over Valencia only serves him as a temporary lifeline.
Bookies tend to believe Koeman’s future in the Barcelona dugout is far from safe, offering bets on his successor. Xavi Hernandez is the favorite at +138 to take charge of the team where he also served as a player. Andrea Pirlo follows at +275, with Roberto Martinez at +450.