Barcelona have now won eight matches in a row this season and now sit alone on top of their Champions League group thanks to a really tough 1-0 win against Sporting Lisbon at the José Alvalade on Wednesday night. The match was very difficult since the first whistle, and the Blaugrana couldn’t play their best football and basically survived the final minutes after an own goal by Sporting early in the second half.
It was a tough game as expected, with Barça having problems with a well organized Sporting defense while being wary of the Lions’ potency on the counter, which meant that the Blaugrana didn’t commit their full-backs forward and relied only on Andrés Iniesta, Sergi Roberto, Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez to try and break down the Sporting defense.
The first 25 minutes were filled with stoppages due to offsides and fouls, but Barça slowly grew into the game in the final few minutes and created big chances for Messi and Suárez that weren’t put away. Sporting could not trouble Barça in any way apart from a few set pieces, but nothing too dangerous.
At halftime, it was a somewhat boring game, but Barça played quite well in the final minutes and looked in a good position to get the goals and the win in the second half.
The final period started with an own goal from Sebastián Coates that put Barça in front, but from then on what we saw was a very different proposition from what we saw in the first 45 minutes: Barça completely lost control of the game and couldn’t complete more than five passes in a row, and the match was dominated by counter-attacks and long balls from Sporting to try and get a goal.
Marc-André ter Stegen made a fantastic save to stop Bruno Fernandes from getting an equalizer, and the Blaugrana really needed a second goal to guarantee the win as the pressure from Sporting grew more and more. As weird as it sounds, the entrance of Paulinho in place of Iniesta helped calm things down and Barça managed to regain control of the game in the final minutes.
This is a giant victory that must be celebrated. It’s really not easy to win at the Alvalade, and Barça did it. They could have played better, but maybe better finishing would have given them a 4-0 win and people would see it differently. So let’s be happy with the victory.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets; Roberto (Gomes), Iniesta (Paulinho); Messi, Suárez (Vidal)
Goal: Coates (O.G. 49’)
Sporting: Rui Patrício; Piccini, Coates, Mathieu, Coentrão (Silva); William, Battaglia; Gelson, Fernandes, Acuña (B. César); Doumbia (Dost)