In a perfect encore to the masterful El Clasico win, Barcelona hammered Roma in the Champions League with two goals from Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez and one each from defenders Gerard Pique and Adriano Correia. A win that could’ve been much bigger was in the dying moments stripped of the clean sheet as Edin Džeko scored a header for the visitors.
|Shots on Target||12
With Barcelona's squad getting healthier by the day, Luis Enrique could actually do some rotating, leaving Andres Iniesta and Jeremy Mathieu on the bench. Therefore, Thomas Vermaelen joined the usual suspects of Dani Alves, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba in defense. Sergi Roberto again started in midfield, this time alongside of Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitić. In attack, Messi returned to the starting lineup to mark the return of the MSN trident.
The game started off in exciting fashion as Roma invited Barcelona forward with a high defensive line that the Catalans continuously attempted to exploit with pin-point through balls. The first chance for Barcelona though, in the fourth minute, came from a long range try by Messi, but Wojciech Szczęsny was able to make a strong save. Over the next five minutes, Barcelona created two scoring chances by well-timed runs onto through balls. In the 7th minute it appeared Barça took the early lead, but Messi's goal was ruled out for an alleged offside by Neymar, who assisted on the "goal". The replays though showed that Antonio Rüdiger was closer to Szczęsny than Neymar was. Shortly after, Busquets found Messi in space, but the Argentine's shot was off target.
A few poor choices then allowed Roma to shortly press toward Marc-Andre ter Stegen's goal, even coming close to scoring against the run of play. A cheap corner kick was given on the right side, which Roma took short before the ball was swung into the area. Vermaelen was late setting the offside trap and Džeko was left with a free header, but his aim was poor.
But, in the 15th minute, Barcelona made sure that Roma would not be the team to score first. Alves was brilliantly played through, leaving him and Suarez with a breakaway on goal. Alves unselfishly squared the ball to the Uruguayan who was left with a simple tap in into the back of the net. Just minutes later it was 2-0 for Barcelona. Brilliant one-touch passing between Neymar, Suarez and Messi left the latter behind the defensive line, with only the onrushing Szczęsny to beat. Messi decided to go with his trademark move, the chip shot, and masterfully doubled Barcelona's lead.
Barcelona's attacks were relentless and Roma players were barely given a second to breathe. The Catalans were constantly buzzing around the penalty area, but they were unable to create a good scoring chance until the 34th minute when Messi wonderfully played Neymar all alone on goal. However, the play was again wrongly stopped for offside.
Roma then again went on a short spell of positive play, even testing ter Stegen for the first time in the game, but the young German made easy work of the tough-angle shot. And similarly to how Barcelona scored earlier in the game - in a time in which Roma were the most dangerous, they did so again this time, with Suarez again finding the back of the net. A poorly cleared Neymar cross found its way to Suarez who wasted no time and volleyed a perfect shot past the outstretched Szczęsny.
Referee Cüneyt Cakir whistled for halftime immediately after the celebrations ended.
Both teams made changes during the break, Juan Iturbe replaced Radja Nainggolan for Roma while Busquets stayed in the dressing room for some much deserved rest and was replaced by youngster Sergi Samper.
Barcelona continued where they finished off the first half, quickly creating a couple scoring chances, with Neymar testing Szczęsny, but the goalkeeper was able to prevent the 18-yard shot from crossing the line. Roma then created a chance of their own, as Iturbe, Džeko and Iago Falque combined on the edge of the area with the latter getting a great look on goal, but ter Stegen made an excellent save to preserve the clean sheet.
Barça countered Roma's shot with yet another goal, with Pique joining the scoring fest in the 55th minute. Suarez and Neymar combined on the right side to spring Messi behind the line and the Argentine proceeded to square the ball to Pique who tapped the ball into the empty net. The defender was substituted off immediately after scoring and was replaced by Marc Bartra.
Barcelona's trident was in the thick of it again five minutes later and again the play ended with Szczęsny being beaten. Neymar was again able to showcase his incredible ball control skills before finding Suarez whose shot/pass was redirected on goal by Messi. Messi's initial shot was saved, but Szczęsny had no such luck on the rebound with Messi completing his brace and the Manita.
In the 64th minute Lucho completed his last change, replacing Roberto, who was tackled hard just moments before, with Adriano. Barcelona continued to attack, even though there wasn't much urgency in attack anymore with the big lead. One of the most motivated players left on the pitch was Neymar who was still searching for a goal that would extend his scoring run. He came close to it in the 71st minute, but he just missed the target.
Neymar came even closer to opening his account five minutes later as he was brought down in the area for a penalty. The Brazilian himself took responsibility, but his no-run run-up strategy failed as his attempt was saved by Szczęsny. The rebound, however, fell straight to Adriano who roofed the ball under the crossbar to further increase the lead.
In the 80th minute Messi had a great chance to complete the hat-trick, but the Pole in Roma's net denied him. Two minutes later, Roma would win a penalty of their own as Vermaelen brought down Džeko in the area. Džeko himself took the shot, but, like Neymar, he too had his attempt saved. Barcelona would attack for much of the remaining time, but Roma would just seconds before the final whistle score the consolidation goal as Džeko rose the highest to head home a cross from the left side.
With the win Barcelona secured first place in their group and Enrique will be able to rotate heavily in the remaining game against Bayer Leverkusen. Now Barcelona will be able to focus again on the league where they will on Saturday take on Real Sociedad.
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