Borussia Dortmund's starting 11 was missing a star name for the game against Barcelona. Favre's omission of the English teenager didn't deter him as he made his mark at Camp Nou — even if his team did not.
Normally the single goal in a 3-1 scoreline is a footnote quickly forgotten to football history, but Jadon Sancho's strike in Dortmund's 3-1 defeat by Barcelona was more important than that.
Having been given a less-than-perfect pass by Julian Brandt, Sancho's footwork was so good he was able to work a yard of space when it seemed impossible to do so. What followed was an arrowed strike into the top corner, that left Marc-Andre ter Stegen stunned.
The goal came after Sancho had set up Brandt for a chance he should have taken. It was followed by a passage of play where Dortmund suddenly looked capable rather than culpable. Lionel Messi's delightful assist for Antoine Griezmann soon after ended the contest, but there was still time for more from Sancho.
With four minutes to go, Sancho's combination play with Raphael Guerreiro was sublime and the 19-year-old would have had a second had ter Stegen not tipped his effort onto the bar. Dortmund had lost the game, but Sancho had done his best to change it in Dortmund's favor. And all this, off the bench.
Favre barb stings Sancho
Lucien Favre's decision to play four wing backs was a bold one, but not as bold as his pregame comments. When asked about Sancho not starting, the Swiss coach told Sky that Dortmund "needed players on the pitch who were focused and ready."
By the end of the night, Favre must have been left regretting both his tactical decision and his words. Sancho appeared one of the very few players who looked focused and ready. Clearly Sancho's skills alone wouldn't have saved Dortmund — domestic performances have proven that — but watching his impact on the second half left big questions about how Dortmund might have fared had their teenage star started.
Nico Schulz, the player favored instead of Sancho, wasted two chances to give the visitors the lead — chances that a more naturally attacking player might have converted.
Facing Barcelona at Camp Nou is one of the most prestigious battles a career in football can offer, but Dortmund did not take control of Group F. This side did not assert themselves in the way they had in the home fixture and more frustration followed. For Sancho, the frustration of not starting must have been great — but he responded in the best possible way.
Situation not resolved
Afterwards, Mats Hummels initially refused to be drawn on the subject of whether Sancho should have started, before eventually saying he thought Sancho played really well, scored a goal, looked involved and that was the way it should be. His words could be taken as a criticism of Favre, but also of Sancho himself. Either way, it's clear that the situation has not been resolved.
What started with Sancho being fined for returning late after international duty has snowballed into Sancho being left reportedly "humiliated" having been hauled off in Munich in the first half. Whatever the missing pieces of this jigsaw look like, there's no escaping that Sancho is a difference maker on the pitch. Now Dortmund, with or without Favre, have to figure out how to manage this exceptionally talented young man so as to make sure he can keep on delivering this kind of performance for the club.