Barcelona continued their perfect start to the Champions League group stage with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Inter Milan, with goals from Rafinha and Jordi Alba. The Blagurana coped well with the absence of Lionel Messi and played 90 solid minutes of football with and without the ball, and they’re now just three points away from winning Group B.
Barça had the ball and the control from the very first minute, establishing dominance of possession and forcing Inter to defend deep inside their half. The Italians had trouble getting out of their defensive shape and causing problems on the break, but Barça didn’t really create much either, and we had a stale first half hour of play.
Until a brilliant piece of magic by Luis Suárez, who played a spectacular pass over the top of the defense to Rafinha, who finished the play with a beautiful volley and gave his team the lead. Barça improved after scoring and looked more dangerous, with both full-backs, especially Sergi Roberto, making dangerous forward runs and crosses. But no real chance was created, and Barça had a one-goal lead going into the half.
At halftime, Barça were better and deserved to win, but they needed more goals to finish the job.
The second half was even more dominated by Barça, even though Inter really went for it and pressed high up the pitch with plenty of numbers. Arthur lost the ball twice in dangerous areas, but other than those hiccups the Brazilian was instrumental in beating the press and giving Barça a lot of chances on the counter.
And if it wasn’t for Inter goalkeeper Handanovic, the crossbar, and a little bit of bad luck, Barça would have been out of sight early on. Suárez, Philippe Coutinho and Clément Lenglet had golden opportunities that somehow didn’t go in, and as we reached the final 15 minutes Barça still had work to do to get the victory.
Ernesto Valverde decided that a 1-0 win was enough and made defensive substitutions, which made the Camp Nou crowd very angry when Rafinha and Arthur had to leave the pitch for Arturo Vidal and Nélson Semedo as the manager looked to protect the result. The players didn’t want to protect the result, though, so they went ahead and doubled the lead with a gorgeous piece of possession and a great finish by Jordi Alba.
The final whistle came to confirm a good performance and victory for the Blaugrana, who played some really good stuff throughout and found that creative spark in the final third after a poor 20-minute start. The team looks ready for El Clásico, and they showed they can do it at a high level without Messi.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Arthur (Vidal); Rafinha (Semedo), Suárez, Coutinho (Munir)
Goals: Rafinha (32’), Alba (83’)
Inter Milan: Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, Skriniar, Miranda, Asamoah; Vecino, Brozovic; Candreva (Politano), Valero (Lautaro), Perisic (Keita); Icardi