'Lethal' Dembele has finally 'matured' at Barcelona and is now one of the best in the world - Xavi
- Barcelona edged Sociedad 1-0
- Dembele scored the winner
- Xavi impressed with the forward
WHAT HAPPENED? The French forward put in a masterclass during Barcelona's 1-0 win over Sociedad in Wednesday's quarter-final clash. Dembele sprinted down the right channel and ran onto a perfectly weighted pass from Jules Kounde before beating Alex Remiro at his near post to score what turned out to be the winning goal for Barca after 52 minutes. It was his third goal in six games for the Liga leaders and Xavi has insisted that he has finally "matured" to become the difference-maker in crunch matches.
WHAT THEY SAID: "I think Dembele has matured a lot since we took over. We have just given him the tools. He is lethal. We always say when he comes inside, he has to shoot more because he has that quality and he can make the difference in games," Xavi told reporters after the match.
"You see the faces of the full-backs, they suffer. We have just given him confidence. He has so much potential. I believe in him. I think a lot of this comes down to making the right decisions. He is also enjoying himself and the fans are enjoying him."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Dembele has rediscovered his best form under Xavi this season, amassing a total of eight goals and seven assists in 27 appearances. Earlier in January, he stole the limelight with a fine strike against Atletico Madrid, and now appears to have put his past injury troubles firmly behind him. "I am delighted for him because he is a good guy and a good professional. He has turned things around and that is not easy at Barca," Xavi added. "He's the one full of confidence and quality. We try to guide him. For me, he is one of the best in the world in his position. He has so much quality, but from there you have to believe in yourself. At Barca, it's important to have that mentality to believe that you can influence games."
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WHAT NEXT FOR DEMBELE? The forward will hope to continue with his rich vein of form when Barcelona take on Girona in La Liga on Saturday away from home.