BARCELONA, CATALONIA — FC Barcelona continued to keep pace atop Group E, as El Blaugrana defeated BATE Borisov 3-0 at the Camp Nou on Wednesday night.
Barcelona had a good shot at goal in the 15th minute, as a nice pass by Luis Suarez was nearly on point to Neymar, but BATE goalkeeper Sergey Chernik came forward to make the save. Stasevich nearly had a goal for BATE just a minute later via a free kick just outside the box, but Marc-Andre ter Stegen was there to made the save.
Ivan Rakitic had to come out of the match in the 20th minute, as the Croatian appeared to have suffered a calf injury. Munir came in and replaced Rakitic, with Sergi Roberto moving to midfield and Munir to RW.
In the 25th minute, BATE's Milunovic made a nice save on a Suarez cross that was heading toward Munir. A penalty was called in favor of Barcelona in the 30th minute, as Munir was taken down inside the box. Neymar stepped up and smoothly slotted in the penalty to give Barça the lead.
Adriano nearly has the second Barcelona goal in the 34th minute, but his close shot went toward the wrong side of the post, hitting said post and out of play. Near the end of the half, Ter Stegen had a lovely moment, as he escaped the corner with style and grace.
In the second half, Barcelona nearly had a goal in the 50th minute, as a Sergio Busquets flick-on from a corner nearly found Suarez, but Chernik came out and grabbed the ball before Luis could slap the ball in.
Luis Suarez made it 2-0 in the 60th minute, as a nice pass by Neymar found Suarez at the top of the box, and ‘El pistolero" slotted it low, toward the post and in to double the lead.
Neymar got his brace in the 83rd minute, as Suarez crossed it low inside the box to a speeding Neymar who picked up Barcelona's third goal. The dynamic duo of Neymar and Suarez struck again.
FT: FC Barcelona 3-0 BATE
Don Andrés Iniesta shined against BATE. He played 68 minutes, and played all of said minutes with class and silky-smooth play, as we're all accustomed from Don Andrés.
Thomas Vermaelen had a solid match. Yes, it was a weaker opponent in BATE, but the Belgian looked calm, strong and confident. Vermaelen had an 88 of 90 successful passing rate. Tremendous. Once again, Sergio Busquets and Sergi Roberto played well, giving Barcelona a strong midfield along with Iniesta. The attacking was there, and the midfield played a big part in setting it up.
Adriano had a poor match. For someone looking for a pay raise, he didn't impress against BATE.
Ivan Rakitic is set to miss at least a month due to a small muscle tear in his calf. He obviously will miss El Clásico. Anims Raki! With Rakitic out, look for Sergi Roberto to start El Clásico alongside Iniesta and Busquets.
Neymar continues to mature and evolved as a player. Once again, we witnessed Neymar take control of the Barcelona attack, helping Luis Suarez and setup goal-scoring chances. And Suarez? The Uruguayan started the match a bit slow, but go going later on.
The on-the-pitch chemistry between Neymar and Suarez has been solid since last season, but since Lionel Messi's injury, it's obvious to say that the chemistry has grown and become even more solid. It had to, obviously, but to see it flow so smoothly is still fascinating to witness. In all competitions, Neymar and Suarez have scored 17 of Barcelona's 20 goals. How will it adjust when Leo comes back? Hopefully, not too much; just continue to grow.
We all can't wait until Leo Messi comes back, but for now, it's all smiles with Neymar and Luis Suarez. Friends, teammates and two of the best players in the world.
Overall, it was a solid match in all aspects for FC Barcelona, given it was against BATE. Offense was there, midfield was well, the defense didn't have any issues and the goalkeeping was on-point when called upon.
FC Barcelona: the defending champion is one step closer to clinching a spot in the knockout stage of the UEFA Champions League.