Given The Lateness Of The Hour, It’s No Surprise Ousmane Dembélé Saved Barça
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Ousmane Dembélé is perennially late.
You can easily imagine him throwing open the door of his Mercedes S63 AMG coupé, crushed Mountain Dew Game Fuel cans spilling out with him, and sprinting into Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper at a breakneck speed muttering "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!" because this really happens all the time — to the point where the club fined him hundreds of thousands of dollars and wondered aloud if he had a video game disorder that forced him to stay up all night playing with his friends (others call this disorder “having fun.”)
He’s been late to justify his $127 million transfer fee. He’s been late to remedy those twangy hamstrings. Even his signature move — a shot fake so devastatingly agile that defenders frequently hit the floor — is predicated on a course of action that takes place at the eleventh hour.
He’s been late to get started this campaign. Before scoring in LaLiga last Saturday, he’d scored just once in his previous 16 matches. But he now has two from two after hitting an unstoppable screamer Wednesday to ignite Barcelona’s stunning Copa del Rey semifinal comeback against Sevilla.
Sevilla won the first leg 2-0 at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán back on Feb. 10, making the task — and perhaps the opportunity for a 35th and final trophy for Lionel Messi — particularly ill-suited to this incarnation of Barça. Yes, they’re more than capable of scoring three in a game, but no, the idea of this brittle Blaugrana defense going 90 minutes without conceding is madness.
But belief swelled in the 12th minute thanks to Dembélé. On three different occasions it seemed as though the 23-year-old Frenchman had missed his opportunity during this sequence.
He held onto the ball for roughly 10 seconds — working his way in and around three Sevilla defenders in a curiously bumbling manner — and then decided that if you really love something, you gotta set it free. Like a young naturalist teaching a flock of Canadian geese to fly after the tragically premature death of their mother, Dembélé guided that ball on its migration to the top corner.
OH MY!!OUSMANE DEMBELE GOLAZO pic.twitter.com/qQPNOKNczD
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 3, 2021
Dembélé was then instrumental in Barcelona’s best approach to defense: keeping possession of the ball. He was a constant headache for Joan Jordán and Aleix Vidal on the left wing, and it would’ve been fitting if his 67th-minute cross was converted by Jordi Alba in spectacular fashion.
If Jordi Alba would've made this pic.twitter.com/QK8gwOytrr
Barcelona had other heroes on the night. Marc-André ter Stegen had to save a penalty to keep the dream alive.
Ter Stegen saves the penalty! pic.twitter.com/q8svl1EY6v
Antoine Griezmmann had to provide the service and Gerard Piqué the finish in the final minute of added time to force extra time.
PIQUE SAVES BARCELONA pic.twitter.com/3ZDace0zaV
From there, it was only a matter of time until 10-man Sevilla finally crumbled.
BRAITHWAITE GIVES BARCELONA THE LEAD AFTER PIQUE SAVES THEM IN THE FINAL SECONDS! pic.twitter.com/w10rjlGZjr
But in a game in which Barcelona showed up late, it's only fitting that Dembélé was their man of the match.
The final is scheduled for April 17, where Barcelona meets the winner of Athletic Club vs. Levante at La Cartuja in Seville.