In Focus: Fati and Aguero can give Barca a power Serg
By their own high standards, Barcelona have made a terrible start to the season.
The Blaugrana may have only lost one of their opening eight LaLiga games but they have also picked up just four wins.
There may be cause for optimism for the Catalan club though, because summer arrival Sergio Aguero is finally fit — as is rising Spanish star Ansu Fati.
Ahead of this afternoon’s El Clasico clash with Real Madrid, we look at how the duo can transform the fortunes of Ronald Koeman’s side.
La Masia academy product Fati, 18, made his first start since November 2020 as Barca beat Valencia 3-1 at Camp Nou last Sunday.
He scored the opening goal after 13 minutes while Aguero finally made his debut, more than four months after joining on a free transfer.
Fati had been sidelined for the best part of a year due to a knee injury that ended up requiring four operations.
But he has now featured in each of Barca’s last three LaLiga games — scoring just nine minutes after coming off the bench in last month’s 3-0 home win over Levante.
Aguero, 33, only came on for the last few minutes against Valencia but it will have been a great relief for the former Manchester City striker, who had been out with a calf issue since early August.
Recognising the potential
Speaking ahead of Barcelona’s 1-0 Champions League victory over Dynamo Kyiv on Wednesday, Aguero was full of praise for Fati and his tremendous ability.
He said: "He’s playing well and he has a very special talent. He is young and they [Barcelona] have to let him grow.
"We have to support him and make sure that he is comfortable on the pitch. He is one of those players that does not come around very often."
Fati has only made 34 LaLiga appearances but the Barca prodigy has scored at an impressive rate of 0.75 goals per 90 minutes, finding the net 13 times in total.
Aguero’s goalscoring prowess, meanwhile, needs little introduction.
The instinctive Argentine was on target 184 times in 275 Premier League games for former club Manchester City, claiming the English top flight's Golden Boot in 2014-15.
Fati and Aguero ought to help Barca improve on their disappointing scoring rate of only 1.75 goals per 90 so far this term.
For context, the Catalans have averaged at least two goals per game in every campaign from 2005-06 onwards.
Youth complemented by experience
Along with fellow teenagers Pedri and Gavi, Fati is one of Barca’s hottest young talents.
Simply put, having such a blindingly bright prospect in the team can give the whole place a morale boost — and goodness knows Koeman's men could do with that right now.
But the importance of seasoned professionals imparting their wisdom — not least one of the all-time greats in Aguero — cannot be underestimated either and the Blaugrana could now have themselves an invaluable combination up front.
Back to a front three?
Koeman had largely eschewed Barcelona’s traditional 4-3-3 this term in favour of a 4-2-3-1 or 3-5-2 — the latter of which is a sharp contrast with the club’s past tactical blueprints.
The Dutchman reverted to 4-3-3 last time out however, with Fati and Sergino Dest starting to the left and right of Memphis Depay, who has now scored four in his first eight LaLiga outings.
Whether Koeman continues to switch up his system remains to be seen but sticking with a front three should now be easier, particularly because of the return of Aguero.
Like Depay, he is a far more dynamic centre forward than targetman Luuk de Jong, who has made two league starts this season.
With Fati and Aguero back in the frame, the future is looking far brighter for the struggling Catalans.