Luiz Henrique shows Dembele how to live up to the hype

Ousmane Dembele He may have reached his last World Cup with France (and won one of them), scored the winning goal against Atletico Madrid at the weekend, been flown around Europe for over €160m in transfer fees over his career, and his Barcelona coach has been telling Anyone will hear how amazing his talent is…but there’s really a lot the erratic winger can learn from his opponent in Thursday’s Spanish Supercopa semi-final.

Luis Henrique Andre Rosa da Silva hasn’t won anything, he just turned 22, moved to Real Betis for a modest initial transfer fee of €8m, he wasn’t selected to be part of Brazil’s squad for the World Cup in Qatar and can’t speak yet. His Spanish is very good, but his impressive skill set is complemented by an insatiable appetite for learning, developing and eliminating mistakes from his game. Arguably, this is the attitude Dembele lacks.

Whether the two wings go head-to-head for the first time this week, when Barcelona and Betis go head-to-head to take on either Real Madrid or Valencia in the Super Cup final, is up to their coaches: Xavi and Manuel Pellegrini. Barcelona and Betis face a slew of LaLiga matches – their first and fourth respectively in the table – as well as a knockout clash in the King’s Cup in the middle of next week (Barcelona head to third-tier Ceuta, while Betis host defending champions Osasuna), and both have ambitions. to win the European League. (The Catalans will play Manchester United in February in the Round of 32, while Betis qualified directly for the Round of 16).

There will be times when match-winning talents like Luis Henrique and Dembélé are rested at their explosive most when the deciding games come around, but this is a semi-final (played in Saudi Arabia) with a whiff of a cup in the air – Sunday’s grand final – and seven-overs. Numbers depend on reaching that final or, in fact, lifting the trophy.

Watch Spanish Super Cup matches live, highlights on E + (just us)
Wednesday, 2 p.m. ET: Real Madrid vs. Valencia
Thursday, 2 p.m. ET: Real Betis vs. Barcelona
Sunday, 2 p.m. ET: Super Cup Final

In all likelihood, Bettis will get involved Louis Henrique And ask him to try torment Jordi Albawhile Xavi will almost certainly deploy Dembele on his preferred wing, right, to attack Alex Moreno or the cup’s top scorer. John Miranda. But whether these two wingers are so talented, so quick, and each scored the winning goal for their side on Sunday, whether or not they start the semi-final will make no difference to the key point here.

Luis Henrique’s absurdly quick adaptation not only to LaLiga, but to the demands placed on him by Real Betis and their coach Manuel Pellegrini, should serve as a moral tale for Dembele. The Barcelona man is truly capable of outrageous moments on the pitch, but the fact that his direct opponent never knows what Dembele is going to do is offset by very clear evidence that Dembele, it seems, does not.

Some cynics would argue that most of the time, everyone knows exactly what Dembele is going to do: over-dribble, give the ball to an opponent rather than a well-placed teammate, or fail to control the easiest pass that is sent straight to his team. feet. Then, when you doubt him the most, the 25-year-old will tie a defender in knots, sprint with impressive speed, and fire a shot into the top corner.

Xavi believes in him evangelically, as does France coach Didier Deschamps, who played Dembélé in every World Cup match except for the defeat by Tunisia. Those clubs who could have secured his services when he was available as a free transfer last summer clearly did not believe as strongly as these two managers.

Dembele has made some progress: he’s picked up fewer injuries, has a dependable grasp of the Spanish language, and is collecting more assists. But the percentage of times he does the right thing effectively, whether it be a simple or complex task, isn’t on the rise, and here’s where the negative comparison to Betty’s exciting summer purchase stands out.

There are direct similarities that are immediately apparent. Luiz Henrique has just as fast, and maybe even greater, handling of the ball once he’s on the run. He’s got an equally powerful shot, though he bounces off his right foot instead of on both feet like Dembele, and showed that impressive winner he smashed against Rayo in Vallecas during Betis’ 2-1 win two days ago.



Dembele’s goal puts Barcelona ahead with a bad win over Atletico Madrid

Ousmane Dembele scores the only goal to give Barcelona a 1-0 victory. Stefan Savic and Ferran Torres were also sent off with red cards after a fight on the field.

Every man has that most valuable trait: the technical ability to dribble, spectacularly, to outrun an opponent while sprinting. Luiz Henrique is distinguished by his quick feet and good close control; He is also bold. When he arrived at Betis last summer, 21-years-old at the time, he seemed at times lost. It’s also understandable: the Brazilian was changing continents after leaving Fluminense, lacked experience and was trying to cope with a significantly different pace of football in a new league.

He suffered from his new club’s inability to meet the requirements of financial fair play until the third round of La Liga, which delayed his registration in the league and halted his debut. His touch was erratic and his decision-making was, frankly, Dembele-esque. Play raged around him and he seemed noticeably out of his depth.

This is where Pellegrini comes in.

As the Betis coach explained it: “In the beginning, Luiz was prone to mixing up his ideas, not following the basic playing concepts of the team. But when we watched him train we saw that he was really skilled technically, that he could handle tactics and we had full faith that there was a big future for him.” Let’s hope he continues to develop as he has because we are all sure there is a lot to come from him.”

Pellegrini asked Luis Henrique to be more involved in defense and work harder off the ball. He also instructed the young Brazilian to remain true to his nature, and to continue to take risks when in possession. He also recommended homework.

“The coach told me to study videos Vinicius“Matches,” Luis Henrique said. “I want to get to levels that, Neymar And Ravenha They are in…and with work, I think I can make that dream come true.”

Luiz Henrique’s home debut was after one hour against Osasuna, and he received a standing ovation when he came on. Minutes later, Betis was down to 10 men and Luiz Henrique pulled his socks off to ensure that Verdeblancos He held out to win 1-0.

Next time, against Real Madrid, he looked out of his depth: raw, error-prone, almost disoriented. Since then, he has made perfect progress. He seems more confident, more diligent and more reliable every week, making the most of his unquestionable work ethic. Yes, there are mistakes and signs of his inexperience, but he’s always learning.

With a win over Rayo at the weekend, he doubled up at linebacker Aitor Roybal to help cut Rayo winger Alvaro García’s flow of possession, but he also ran home defense and scored the winning goal.

“I think my style of play is a perfect fit for Betis,” said Luis Henrique. “I like to have possession of the ball, play attacking football, dribble past opponents, provide assists or score goals. But I also work hard. I’m ambitious, I want to achieve great things here, that’s why I think the club wants him and can What I can do is the perfect combination.”

This is not meant to be mean or disrespectful about Dembele. He is sporadically impressive, has one of the greats of Spanish football (Xavi) with enthusiasm in his camp, was the leading assist maker in LaLiga in the past calendar year and generally, he is starting to get the message about consistency, application and development. The difference is that the new Brazilian kid on the block gets this message instinctively.

Luis Henrique’s performances in the past two matches have come against the shocking backdrop of the death of his father in Brazil in the first week of January, just as he was 22 years old. To stay and play well for the club. If you’ve seen his winner on Rayo and this celebration, kneeling with arms extended upwards and fingers pointing to the sky, now you know why.

Just going back to that request from Pellegrini to study his new signing Vinicius… It’s very exciting for Spanish football fans that these two – and Dembele admittedly – are stepping up at the same time as three of the best clubs in LaLiga. .

Vinicius is ahead of his compatriot. Cup winner, scorer of the winning goal in the Champions League final, key in an exciting partnership with Karim Benzema And play in Madrid instead of Betis. But even his initial development – in addition to his basic ability to listen, absorb and understand the advice given to him by stars like Zinedine Zidane and Benzema, Luke ModricAnd Toni Kroos And the current coach, Carlo Ancelotti, were less fast – he had less momentum than Luis Henrique.

Don’t be fooled. The Betis winger is astoundingly talented and sexy, but still a tad bitch: he occasionally gets loose on the wrong dribble, brings the ball down or steers a shot into the crowd instead of into the top corner. He just goes way too fast for the moment when opponents really fear him, Betis fans adore him and honor him in song, Brazil pick him up as a regular and his goals/passes stand out in a big way. He is a very interesting footballer to watch as he grows.

Give yourself a treat and get to the beat of Luiz Henrique.

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