Meet the 1st Team, pt. 1

It seems like soccer is on everyone’s minds recently, given the global competition that just concluded. As the proud Official Gluten-Free Food Partner in the US of FC Barcelona, ZENB is inspired by the high-performance lifestyle of the athletes and wants you to get to know the team members better.

Robert Lewandowski #9, Forward

Every soccer league around the globe has its standout strikers. However, a select few display such exceptional talent that they are named among the best in the world. Robert Lewandowski joined Barça after showcasing his goal scoring exploits in Germany’s Bundesliga, which earned him countless trophies and awards including seven seasons as top goal scorer and FIFA Men’s Best Player. Lewandowski is ruthless in front of the opposing team’s goal. He works hard off the ball to put himself in ideal positions to score goals. When he gets the ball, which is often, he doesn’t miss. His powerful shots are dreaded by opposing defenders and goalkeepers. The number of goals he has scored with his head can be attributed to his constant movement off the ball and strong physicality, holding off opposing defenders to create space. His impressive skill often creates opportunities for his teammates, requiring opposing players to spend all 90 minutes attempting to shut him down. In his first season at FC Barcelona, Lewandowski has already racked up 18 goals and 4 assists and shows no signs of slowing from this legendary pace as he grafts himself into the hearts of the Barça fans.

Gavi #30, Midfielder

At a mere 11 years old, Gavi’s midfield talent was recognized as worthy of La Masia, FC Barcelona’s academy. He has been making waves ever since as a standout at the U12, U19, and B Squad levels. In 2021 he was called up to the senior squad, showing that he had the skills to stay in step with the First Team elite as a playmaker. Gavi is adept at controlling the pace of the game while mesmerizing fans with his delicate first touch and controlled dribbling. Simultaneously, his pace and anticipation put defenders at risk as they attempt to close him down. He frequently uses their hesitation to make a key pass or dribble up field for a goal scoring opportunity. Though his key contributions have been in the buildup to goals, Gavi holds the record for being the youngest player to score for Spain’s national team. He scored 2 goals for Barça last season and continues to threaten the opposing goal. It is no surprise that with his style of play he has already been compared to other legendary FC Barcelona midfielders.

Pedri #8, Midfielder

Being named the “Golden Boy” or best European player under 21 after his first season with Barcelona is potentially the best way to get noticed by the world. In Pedri’s case, this also won him the undying affection of the Culers on his rise to stardom. Pedri is a successful playmaker lauded most frequently for his passing ability, particularly under pressure. While he has shown he can shoot, the touches that impress are inch perfect passes that expose defenses and set up goals. He dribbles confidently with both feet at opposing players, earning him a reputation for fearless offensive play. He also displays incredible vision, making creative plays that change the game by opening space and disabling defenses. Pedri combines these skills to be a unique player who is a joy to watch.

Marc-André ter Stegen #1, Goalkeeper

Since arriving in 2014, ter Stegen has proven invaluable to FC Barcelona countless times as he reinforces his reputation as one of the best goalkeepers in the world. Physically imposing, ter Stegen makes his presence known through his strong personality. He communicates frequently with the defenders in front of him, utilizing his insightful reading of opposing attacks to direct appropriate defensive action. When the ball does come his way, ter Stegen employs his quick reflexes to make amazing saves, often dotting highlight reels every season. His height and fearlessness make him a challenge one-on-one, shutting down even the best strikers in the world. Barça employs ter Stegen for back-passes and to start attacks thanks to his ability to control the ball with his feet and make accurate passes up field. Overall, ter Stegen has over 100 clean sheets with FC Barcelona across over 250 appearances.

Ousmane Dembélé #7, Forward

Ousmane Dembélé has been showing his fantastic abilities ever since he arrived on the team. The Frenchman’s eye-catching speed where among the many skills added to the FC Barcelona squad when he joined in 2017. Frequently seen sprinting down a wing, Dembélé makes life difficult for every defender. He has the unmatched ability to use both feet to dribble, pass, and shoot. Combined with constant awareness of the pitch, he is often the playmaker of attacks. Dembélé possesses technical ability which makes him an immense attacking threat that opposing defenders are unable to ignore. Once drawn in, Dembélé exposes the space left by defenders, darting towards goal and making a powerful shot or working a pass into an open teammate. He has gained notoriety for lightning-fast, pin-point accurate crosses, which, for the 2021-2022 season, resulted in him being the top playmaker. For Barça fans watching Dembélé with the ball is mesmerizing. When he combines his pace and mastery of dribbling, there is no shortage of highlights to watch and moves to imitate.

Come back soon for some more player profiles as we cheer on FC Barcelona and are inspired by their efforts on the pitch.

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