Veteran Alba saves Barcelona just before time, 27th national title close at hand

Veteran Alba saves Barcelona just before time, 27th national title close at hand
Jordi Alba (right) celebrates his hit with Ansu Fati

NOS Football

FC Barcelona is painfully one step closer to its first Spanish national title since 2019. They narrowly won 1-0 at home against Osasuna, despite Barcelona playing an hour with one man more, due to a goal by substitute Jordi Alba.

The difference between Barcelona and pursuer Real Madrid is now 14 points with five games to go, as Madrid’s number two lost 2-0 at Real Sociedad.

La Liga standings

At Barcelona, Frenkie de Jong was in the starting lineup. Middle-ranked Osasuna started with nine different players compared to the last league game, probably to save players for Saturday’s cup final against Real Madrid. It is only the second cup final ever for the club from Pamplona, which lost the final to Real Betis in 2005.

Red card rookie

The match got off to a slow start, with the first chance of the match for Barcelona midfielder Pedri after 25 minutes after good work by Alejandro Balde. A little later, De Jong provided a through ball to Pedri, who was pulled to the ground by Osasuna defender Jorge Herrando in a promising position. The 22-year-old Herrando, who was making his league debut for Osasuna, was shown red by the referee.

It only increased Barça’s dominance against the No. 9 Spanish league side. However, the Catalans did suffer a setback: Gavi pulled out injured and had to be replaced for Ansu Fati ten minutes before halftime. The same Fati had the first chance of the second half, but his effort was saved.

Gavi (center) dribbles but later has to come off injured

The crowd grew more desperate and desperate, but five minutes before time Barcelona still managed to score. De Jong headed a cross through to substitute and veteran Jordi Alba. Alba shot the ball in one go with an outside foot and a lot of effect on goal, and the ball went in via goalkeeper Fernandez, to the relief of the crowd.

Immediately, the crowd sang the song “Campione, Campione” en masse, referring to the Catalans’ likely upcoming 27th championship. Barcelona ran out of trouble after the goal and dragged the 1-0 across the line.

Megamisser Real Sociedad, blunder Real

Real was missing several base players against Real Sociedad. David Alaba, Ferland Mendy and Luka Modric were missing due to injury, Vinícius Júnior was suspended and top scorer Karim Benzema was most likely rested for the cup final, as were many of Osasuna’s players.

David Silva (second from right) dribbles past Real Madrid players

At first the game went up and down in San Sebastián, with the biggest chance for the home side. After a corner, midfielder Martin Zubimendi had the ball up for grabs but from about two meters he hit the crossbar. Two-time European champion and world champion David Silva (37), still important at Real Sociedad, also had a chance moments later but he pounced on Thibaut Courtois.

Right after halftime, the Basques grabbed the lead after a blunder by Éder Militão. The Brazilian slipped and gave a back pass that Courtois could not reach but Takefusa Kubo could. The Japanese, who was under contract to Real for three years but never played a game and was mostly rented out, thus hurt his old employer.

Kubo (right) celebrates his goal with his teammates

Things got worse for Real when Dani Carvajal picked up his second yellow card after an hour of play. He initially played the ball but also hit his opponent at high speed.

Real could not make a fist with ten men and five minutes before time the stadium exploded when San Sebastián-born Ander Barrenetxea made the 2-0 final score.

Kayleigh Williams