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Champions League: Five talking points from Barcelona 3-1 Olympiacos

Another win and plenty to talk about

FC Barcelona v Olympiakos Piraeus - UEFA Champions League Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

What was Pique thinking?

Although it was a good win for Barcelona, it was a really poor night for Gerard Pique, who picked up his first ever red card (in 92 appearances) in the Champions League.

There was a warning early on when he was yellow carded after just 11 minutes for a cynical foul on Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe.

Shortly before half-time he was given his marching orders, after handling the ball over the line from a Gerard Deulofeu cross.

Pique went into the game with five yellows from nine matches this season, all of which have been picked up in the first half, and it’s not his first for handball.

The defender protested to the officials, but it was absolutely the right call, and it went on to cost Deulofeu as he was substituted at half-time for Javier Mascherano.

FC Barcelona v Olympiakos Piraeus - UEFA Champions League Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Was Valverde’s half-time substitution the right call?

Which brings us neatly on to our second point, was Valverde right to take off Deulofeu for Mascherano at half-time?

Deulofeu was actually one of Barca’s brighter players, although his crossing had been something of a disappoinment.

There’s an argument that Luis Suarez could have gone, as he was having another poor game, and also whether Mascherano was needed as Olympiacos offered very little going forwards.

Barca did improve after the interval, but Deulofeu can be forgiven for feeling aggrieved at managing just 45 minutes.

Own goal strikes again for Barcelona

Own goal did it again for Barcelona, notching his fifth of the season in all competitions, the club’s second top scorer behind Lionel Messi, and it’s only October.

It may just be luck, but he’s already scored more than Luis Suarez (on three) and Paulinho and Denis Suarez (both on two).

What is clear is that Valverde is building a resilient side, as we saw at the weekend, coming from a goal down away at Atletico to get a result.

Barca were at it again on Wednesday, taking Pique’s dismissal in their stride and arguably looking better with 10 men, albeit against a limited Olympiacos side.

FC Barcelona v Olympiakos Piraeus - UEFA Champions League Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Paulinho and Digne take their chance

Jordi Alba’s late injury gave Lucas Digne a chance in the starting line-up and the full-back looked confident, and netted his first Champions League goal.

Paulinho was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet, hitting the woodwork and having one chalked off for offside.

But he didn’t just offer an attacking threat, he closed down, won the ball back and barely put a pass astray all night. Might he end the season looking a bargain at €40 million?

FC Barcelona v Olympiakos Piraeus - UEFA Champions League Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Still no Denis Suarez

Denis Suarez might have fancied his chances of getting at least some game time on Wednesday, but like at Atletico, he didn’t see a single minute.

After Mascherano’s half-time arrival, Valverde then threw on Andre Gomes and Ivan Rakitic in the second half, leaving Denis on the bench once again.

With bottom of the pile Malaga up next, followed by Murcia in the Copa del Rey, we should get to see Denis again soon, hopefully.

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