Pedri was terrific in Barcelona’s 2-0 Champions League group-stage loss to Bayern Munich on Tuesday. He’s pretty much always terrific these days: knitting together stable possession, pressing smartly and ferociously, finding the quick pass or move that breaks an opposing press or cracks open a packed-in defense, just generally being cool and collected and on top of shit at all times. As much as anybody else, Pedri is the reason why Barça could have and probably should have carried a one- or two-goal lead into the locker room after a dominating first half, and not any of the reasons why they didn’t.
And! While I’m making shameless excuses for my handsome young soccer son: Bayern had already scored both of its goals by the 63rd minute, when Robert Lewandowski’s one zillionth brilliant one-touch pass of the season found Pedri all alone just outside of Bayern’s six-yard box with only keeper Manuel Neuer to beat. Mostly, the incredible comebacks don’t happen, which is why they’re incredible when they do; probably Barcelona was going to lose either way at that point; probably cutting the lead in half would only have spurred the by-then roaring Germans to seek and find a third goal; probably nothing that happened just then mattered all that much, outcome-wise.
And and! Pedri only found himself in that spot to begin with because he’d made a nifty little dribble to cut inside the 18-yard box and draw a trio of Bayern defenders onto himself, and then snuck into the empty space behind them when they all turned to follow the ball to Lewandowski. That is to say, his heady movement in the chaos around the box and his near-superhuman mind-meld with Lewandowski—traits that have served Barcelona miraculously well in this mostly strong early season and (God willing) ought to produce lots and lots of cool shit for as long as the two of them can be kept together—combined to put my dear sweet lad all by himself, onside, within point-blank range of the goal. Which is to say that it was a great play, by Pedri, even before Lewandowski’s pass got back to him. Everybody can just get off of my boy’s case!
It’s just, well, also: