It wasn't easy all the time, but Barcelona got the job done, beat Paris Saint-Germain at Camp Nou and finished first in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the eighth straight year. The match was great, from beginning to end, and Barça showed strength and were good enough to hold the French champions to only one goal, despite some pretty dangerous attacking opportunities by Ibrahimovic & Co.
One can point out that the defense was good because of the surprising tactical change made by coach Luis Enrique before the match. Lucho unleashed a three-man backline with Marc Bartra, Gerard Piqué and Jérémy Mathieu; in front of them, Javier Mascherano, Sergio Busquets and Andrés Iniesta provided stability to the midfield, which gave freedom to the dangerous quartet of Pedro, Neymar, Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez. Barça dominated the match in certain periods of the first and second half, and showed a lot of character on defense when PSG emptied their bench and went all in with five ultra-offensive players. At the end, a very good 3-1 win that gives them a lot of good things to apply to the rest of the season.
Post-match, Enrique was pretty happy with his team's performance, and he revealed that the decision to field a three-man backline was planned a number of days before. Here's a few highlights of what he said:
"We played at a very high level. We put in a serious game against a difficult opponent, who closed down at the back and took an early lead.
"We are stronger if we have the chance to use different set ups. Then our opponents don’t know what to expect from us... the team really understood well what we wanted of them.
"This was a game that we had to win because our aim was to top the group. And that is precisely what we have done – now we’ll see if home advantage is as important as they say!
"It would show a lack of respect to say I’d prefer to face any particular side – or if I said who I didn’t want us to play against. We’ve done our job now and I am sure whoever we are drawn against will be happy to have got this far too."
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