Although on Saturday Ousmane Dembele played arguably his best game in the Barcelona shirt, the Frenchman will have to continue working to get the call-up in big matches.
In Malaga, against the bottom team of LaLiga, the forward amazed the crowd in all of his one-on-one situations, showing off his wondrous skills and giving an incredible assist for Philippe Coutinho’s backheel goal.
The French international shined on the pitch in the absence of Lionel Messi with his creativity and ambition, guiding his side to a 2-0 victory.
However, all of these developments will not suddenly result in his incorporation into Barcelona’s starting XI on big nights like this Wednesday at the Camp Nou against Chelsea, even considering the absence of Coutinho and the fitness doubt of Andres Iniesta.
“Dembele has had more success than other times, and the good thing is that he always challenges himself,” Ernesto Valverde stated in the post-match press conference at the Estadio La Rosaleda.
During Dembele’s long time out due to injury, the coach had to change the initial 4-3-3 system to a 4-4-2 formation in order to take better advantage of his squad.
Neither Aleix Vidal nor Gerard Deulofeu worked as alternatives to the Frenchman, leading Valverde to opt for Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic as the double pivot in the attempt to open up the field.
Everything changes with Messi
At the moment, Barcelona are the unbeaten leaders of LaLiga and the favourites for the Copa del Rey.
Hence, in Sant Joan Despi, the idea that Barcelona will return to a 4-4-2 formation on Wednesday after the brief return of the 4-3-3 (or 4-3-2-1) shown in Malaga is imposed.
In fact, it would not be strange for the XI to be very similar to the one from three weeks ago in London, as Valverde won’t be wanting to take any risks in such a decisive game.
Therefore, this removes the possible option of calling up Dembele to start against the Blues.
Barcelona’s coaching staff have asked the youngster to be very careful when in possession of the ball, as any minor error could lead to the English team’s lethal counter-attacks.
Another aspect they have urged Dembele to improve is in his defensive work, as he must help out the players behind him on the flanks.
This circumstance forces the player in the 4-4-2 formation and in coexistence with Messi.
All this, coupled with an improved decision making, makes Barcelona imagine the Frenchman more as a tool to change the dynamics of a game rather than part of the initial plan.