Barcelona have put together a nine-point lead at the top of La Liga, once again coming out of a tough game with three points against Athletic Club on Sunday night. That is in no small part down to their defence, in which three of their regular back four were not options for Xavi Hernandez last season.
While Jules Kounde and Andreas Christensen were expected to make an impact, nobody saw both Jordi Alba and Marcos Alonso being dispossessed of their position by Alejandro Balde.
Speaking after the Athletic match, Xavi Hernandez declared to Sport that he was the breakout star of the season, provided he keeps his form up.
“At 19 years old, he makes a difference in defence and attack, he is spectacular. If he continues like this, he is the surprise and the revelation of the season, and due to his qualities, he can be what he wants and desires.”
Balde stood out as one of Barcelona’s best players on the night, and Xavi has previously said that he plays two positions at once for the Blaugrana at times. His statistics show he was both one of their brightest, with and without the ball.
Alejandro Balde against Athletic Club:
– 90 minutes played
- 45/50 accurate passes
- Completed the most dribbles
- 100% successful dribbles
- 2/4 accurate centers
- 5/7 accurate long passes
- 7 recoveries
- 73% of duels won pic.twitter.com/0PBvuuOvmW
— Football España (@footballespana_) March 13, 2023