The game at Wembley between Tottenham and Barcelona has marked a before and after in the head of Ernesto Valverde. After many tests and various rotations that didn’t go well, the coach found a team in London that brought the best of Barca out.
Arthur’s introduction was the most important factor. He took advantage from the first minute, as if he had played his whole life in La Masia he worked perfectly in midfield. Moving the ball, beating lines and making himself available, without making things complicated. These are the keys to his success. As Barca fans have been quick to comment, he is reminiscent of Xavi Hernandez.
At the back Clement Lenglet was secure, Rakitic found his best game and Suarez was good again up front even though he didn’t even touch the ball - a couple of excellent dummies and Messi did the rest.
However the two players this game may have hurt are Ousmane Dembele and Arturo Vidal.
The Chilean showed his discontent at full-time with an angry emoji on Instagram - another substitute appearance.
Dembele, meanwhile, was sacrificed so that Arthur could play in midfield. The Frenchman disappeared against Leganes and Athletic and paid a high price. He watched the whole game from the bench and was not missed.
Another factor at Wembley was the upcoming international break. Valverde knows that bar the Valencia match, players will go off with their countries, so he didn’t feel the need to think beyond that. He picked his best team and it’s clear who the best XI is. Wit the injuries to Sergi Roberto and Samuel Umtiti, the new Gala XI took shape. Valverde has found it hard to get to this point but he has the team where he wants it now and the fans are starting to believe again. Mestalla will demonstrate if Wembley was a one-off or if the team really has found its play.