Fantastic Fati (AC Milan vs. FC Barcelona)

Arnie Bazemore/ALOST

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

LAS VEGAS — To end their American tour, FC Barcelona began its game on Tuesday evening playing most of the players who figure to be reserves during the course of the new La Liga season, though one of the reserves who came in from the bench lit up the Entertainment Capital of the World with an amazing strike, one that he hopes will help his case in being named a regular fixture in the starting 11 in the upcoming campaign back in Europe.

Midfielder Ansu Fati scored the only goal of the game with a gorgeous right-footed strike from outside the box early in the second half, as FC Barcelona closed out the Summer Champions Tour with a 1-0 victory of Serie A giants AC Milan inside of Allegiant Stadium on Tuesday evening. Barcelona, who saw its first scheduled game in America against Juventus abandoned because of a virus that ran through the team, wrapped up its tour of the USA with a 2-1 record after a defeat to Arsenal on Los Angeles and a rousing victory over Real Madrid this past weekend in the Dallas area.

One of the standout players in the win in El Clásico inside of AT&T Stadium, Ousmane Dembele, was with the team but did not play in the contest, as a transfer to Ligue 1 powers Paris Saint-Germain is imminent. His departure will intensify the competition for first-team minutes on the flanks with the Blaugranes, and Fati, who came on at the end of last season after falling out of favor to begin 2022, was, almost inarguably, the most impactful player on the pitch and put on a splendid audition to take Dembele’s place if he were to indeed depart. His goal was an exquisite finish, cutting inside after receiving a pass near the top of the box on the left, then bending a punishing drive into the upper far corner and past Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan.

Though Dembele occupied the right wing for Barça, and Raphinia started in that position in last night’s game and had a number of forays into the opponents’ penalty area, Fati may end up being a vital member of the team this season, which is needed since the team’s financial restraints limits the amount of money that it can spend on possible reinforcements for the next few transfer windows. Fati finished last season with seven league goals, and chipped in with three assists while serving as a regular while an injury-hit Barcelona struggled in their last few games after securing the La Liga crown.

AC Milan, semifinalists in last season’s Champions League before losing to city rival Inter Milan, have made a flurry of transactions in the summer to bolster their domestic and European campaigns, and one of their signings, Hershey, Pennsylvania’s Christian Pulisic, started in front of a slew of American fans in Sin City. Though he was loose with the ball on some attacks, his pace on the right flank was a threat while also tracking back to support in defense on a number of occasions. After his career blossomed at German side Borussia Dortmund, and then stalled after his move to Chelsea, Pulisic will have the opportunity for a revitalizing of his career with the Rossoneri.

That isn’t to say that he won’t have competition for time, as AC Milan recently signed former Villarreal winger Samuel Chukwueze, and he will surely push Pulisic and other players on the team looking for minutes on the wing.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Tuesday evening’s contest, with all photos taken by Las Vegas-area photographer Arnie Bazemore. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 17 pictures in total.

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Tags : AC MilanFC BarcelonaLa LigaSerie ASoccer

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