This article is part of Football FanCast’s Off the Bench series, which places in-game managerial decisions and squad selections under FFC’s microscope.
Barcelona’s bout vs Celta Vigo ended up in a comfortable 4-1 victory for the Catalans. But not all was as rosy as it might seem and Sergio Busquets’ absence was glaring. Luckily for them, the experienced Spaniard was introduced in time to change the game.
Ernesto Valverde’s troops returned to winning ways at the Camp Nou last weekend and they dispatched a struggling opponent in a seemingly effortless manner.
But the Catalans were not really as impressive as the scoresheet could suggest, as we’ve already discussed previously, and a lot of their power came from one man and one man only – Lionel Messi.
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The little Argentine wizard bagged a set-piece hat-trick with one penalty and two free-kicks on the day.
But apart from Messi and his usual brilliance, the game took a turn for the better once Busquets was introduced about halfway through the first 45 minutes played in Catalonia.
Of course, Busquets was only introduced because Nelson Semedo picked up an injury and couldn’t continue the game.
The Portuguese was then promptly taken off and Valverde made a bold call by replacing the defender with the Spanish midfielder. Even though that seemed like a big blow for the Catalans, and might still prove to be in the long run, it was actually a blessing in disguise for that particular clash.
Busquets was introduced in the 22nd minute of the game and until that point, Celta Vigo were actually pretty much handling their opposition rather well.
Barcelona were restricted to only one shot on goal and lost possession a total of six times.
Celta, on the other hand, attempted 12 tackles and five interceptions in that time span and the possession fluctuated quite bit with the visitors even having the edge at certain points in the game.
But Busquets’ presence immediately put out that fire that was brewing.
Barcelona’s pass success rose to 90% and their rating for the rest of the game was much higher, rising from 6.15 to 6.81.
The midfielder himself scored the final goal and the only one from open-play while also doing what he does best – control the game.
He tallied 89% passing accuracy with 83 touches on the night and managed two tackles and two interceptions, the highest number in the team for the former category and second-highest for the latter.
All in all, his substitution clearly changed the game for Barcelona and in a way, Semedo’s injury had a silver lining.