Barcelona did what seemed impossible after 75 minutes, and defeated Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 in a miraculous late effort to get the team's first win in the UEFA Champions League. Kyriakos Papadopoulos scored the opening goal in the first half, but the Blaugrana somehow came back from behind with goals from Sergi Roberto and Luis Suárez. The bad news from a great victory was another injury, this time to Andrés Iniesta. But with the way things looked for most of the game, this looks like a title.
It's all about the midfield. And your stars.
Barça was shaky from the first minute, when Leverkusen's high pressing created a real chance for Chicharito, who had his shot stopped by Ter Stegen. The German side played its usual game, with a very secure defense with little support from the full-backs, quick attackers and midfield dominance. With uninspired starts from Neymar and Suárez, Barça relied on its own midfield to create chances, but couldn't surpass the tremendous work of Bayer, who were clearly the better side.
That dominance resulted in another fluky goal. A spectacular corner-kick by Çalhanoglu found Papadopoulos right in front of the goal, and with an indecisive Ter Stegen not wanting to come out and punch the ball away, Barça conceded once again.
With the depressing result, the Blaugrana finally improved, with a much better play on the midfield and more lively stars in Neymar and Suárez, who were responsible for the creation of the biggest Barça chance of the half, but Sandro Ramírez couldn't score the goal after a fantastic goal-line clearance by Papadopoulos.
Barça went into halftime with a negative result, but a positive end to the half.
Survive. And never give up.
Coach Luis Enrique attempted to change things up by employing a three-man back-line with Sergio Busquets at center-back, with the full-backs going forward and Neymar working behind two strikers as the thinking mind. Nothing really good happened, and the Catalans could not find any real chance to score other than a great free-kick by the Brazilian that went just wide.
Things didn't look good, and they got worse when captain Andrés Iniesta injured himself and went out with a leg problem. Enrique was forced to put Jordi Alba in his place, and wasted the rest of his bullets with Sergi Roberto and Munir El-Haddadi in search of at least an equalizing goal. And they got it. Roberto played a beautiful pass to Alba, and after deflecting a Suárez shot, Roberto himself tied the game.
And then, Barça found a miracle comeback goal. Munir made a spectacular individual play, and passed it to Suárez, and the Uruguayan buried home the second.
In the end, an improbable 2-1 victory, and a confidence-booster to a team that might not be at its performance best, but never stops fighting.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Mathieu; Busquets, Rakitic (Roberto), Iniesta (Alba); Sandro (Munir), Suárez, Neymar
Goals: Roberto (80'), Suárez (82')
Bayer Leverkusen: Leno; Donati (Hilbert), Papadopoulos, Tah, Wendell; Bender, Kramer, Kampl, Çalhanoglu; Bellarabi (Brandt), J. Hernández (Kiessling)
Goal: Papadopoulos (22')