Football is most commonly known by its moniker joga bonito – the beautiful game – for a host of reasons. Chief among them is the sport’s storied history of fantastic playmakers.
These players had it all – an exquisite touch, superb vision, a predatory eye for goal and so forth. Their mastery over the leather ball was obvious every time they took to the field and they will go down in history as being idolized for generations to come.
Every era has had, at the most, only a smattering of such genius – Rivaldo, Dennis Bergkamp, Maradona and now Messi having been shining beacons of greatness among their peers.
Yesterday night, Ansu Fati, fast rising Barcelona star, showed the world that he was firmly on the path of the same level of greatness.
Against Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals, the Guinea-Bissau born winger showed why he was such a hot commodity, making darting runs in and out of the Bilbao defence at will throughout the duration of his stay.
While his efforts ultimately went in vain, with the Basque side narrowly clinching victory through an injury time Sergio Busquets own goal, an important takeaway from the match was a tremendous bit of skill that Fati showcased.
Even as the match was still in a deadlock, Fati managed to take possession of the ball and run forward with it, looking for a teammate to pass to.
Even as he was doing that, the Bilbao defence decided to converge on him, resulting in three defenders coming at him from all sides.
But Fati, running at a sprint and showing the awareness of a champ, sensed their proximity and slowed down immediately. Then, as they closed in on him, the lad deftly stopped the ball with his right foot, and in a flash, brought it back to his left, only to cross it back under his right again.
The resulting move left all three defenders absolutely knackered, one of them thrown so off balance that he was sent tumbling to the ground.
A remarkably difficult piece of trickery, made to look like child’s play by Fati, which is very appropriate, considering that he’s barely seventeen years of age.
Yep, boy is destined for great things.