Players to Watch in the Round of 16 – Ousmane Dembélé

Few players’ talent resurfaces early in one’s career how it has for Ousmane Dembélé. Alongside another already highly respected talent like Kylian Mbappé, the 21-year-old has come up from French ranks as one of the most promising young talents that guarantee to dominate the world of soccer in the years to come. At Barcelona, Dembélé repeatedly shows confidence that has saved the Catalans from losing results in stages ranging from Copa del Rey matches to the Champions League.

In August of 2017, Barcelona signed Dembélé for a fee that didn’t convince everyone, not only due to the figure of €105 million that was offered to Dortmund for the youngster, but also the €400 million buyout clause that the Spanish giants slapped on his card. This year, Dembélé hasn’t gotten much playing time at Barcelona, but when he has, his excellent versatility wowed the doubters and the supporters.

Ousmane Dembélé during the 2016-2017 season at Borussia Dortmund

In particular, three matches have defined his personality on the pitch in moments of great pressure. Not only do these goals make a case for his multidimensional preparation for greatly demanding stages, but also tell a lot about what to expect from him in the Round of 16 matchups against Lyon.

The first one, while not having occurred during a highly challenging match, it still showcased Dembélé’s strength from outside the box. In a home game against PSV on November 28th where the end result was 4-0 for the Catalans, he sent the ball in a curve that the keeper failed to reach and stop from landing at the back of the net. Adequately, Dembélé celebrated by gesturing his vision for the game with a flat palm shadowing his eyes.

Dembélé celebrating his goal against PSV

Additionally, the goal also shows his ability to place himself in the shoes of his opponents, and take advantage of the right situation at the right time.  The opposing defense was indeed lacking the necessary organizational skill to cover at the same time Messi and Suarez, Dembélé found the net in a reckless-but-accurate shot that nailed the three group points.

The second game where the young Frenchman proved his 9-digit worth took place during league week, on December 8th, when he scored again from outside the box, this time to save a seemingly locked score of 1-1 against Sevilla, that Barcelona couldn’t seem to be able to break out of. In contrast with the shot against PSV that exhibited his finesse, this one was focused more on his targeting of the goal and power. He was able to score a goal that sent a fearless ball to the back of the net with the confidence of a much more experienced player.

The moment when Dembélé took the goal-scoring shot against Sevilla

Weighing with composure, and intelligence, his goal on December 11th against Tottenham on Matchday six of the Champions League made a great case of his preparedness in situations where the opponent plays for a qualifying result. How the goal unfolded came unexpectedly to anyone, as he utilized his speed, creativity, and agility to reach the goal amidst three defenders and a confused keeper.

The TNT commentator rightfully described the goal with a repeated exclamation of the word ‘brilliant’, as Dembélé himself celebrated the goal by pointing at his head, hinting at his belief of possessing high athletic IQ.

Dembélé celebrating the goal against Tottenham

Against Lyon, the youngster sees a slightly more difficult task, as Manchester City suffered by not only conceding, but also by not being able to find the goal, even with world class players like Agüero, Jesus, and Mahrez. Marcelo, Jason Denayer, Rafael, and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa are the four Lyon defenders that have shown great attention to dangerous talents like that of Dembélé, who has a keen eye for the center backs of opposing teams.

While could most definitely get the job done easily, he will have to tighten up his disciplinary downfalls, that have often made him the center of ridiculousness by the media. Often, he has failed to make practice due to the pleasures of a childish and lavish lifestyle. The young Frenchman definitely has the chops to take the torch after Messi retires from Barcelona, as his talent, although not as advertised as that of Mbappé, holds the same potential, if not, a greater one when utilized appropriately.

Cover photo:
Dortmund photo:
PSV goal photo:
Sevilla goal photo:
Tottenham goal celebration:

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