Barcelona are now alone in first place of Group F in the Champions League thanks to a tough 2-1 victory over a valiant Slavia Prague team on Wednesday night in the Czech Republic. The Blaugrana scored an early goal, rode their luck, conceded the equalizer and then scored the winner with an own goal, but these three points will be crucial to win the Group of Death.
Barça made a fast start to the game, scoring after just three minutes thanks to good pressing high up the pitch, a nice assist by Arthur and an easy finish for Lionel Messi. The Blaugrana looked strong and ready to kill the game, then things completely changed.
Slavia Prague started to press, send bodies forward and create plenty of trouble for the Barça defense, and that’s when Marc-André ter Stegen started to shine. The German goalkeeper made at least three key saves, and his stops were the only reason why Barça remained on top.
The Blaugrana could also have scored a big second goal with two big chances for Luis Suárez, but the Uruguayan’s finishing let him down big time.
At halftime, Barça had the lead but Slavia completely dominated the match, and they looked ready to score.
It didn’t take long for Slavia’s pressure to give them a second half goal when a long ball from the back wasn’t cleared by the Barça defense and Boril found himself alone in the box to score the equalizer. The home team continued to put pressure and create danger, and Ter Stegen once again had to come to the rescue to avoid giving up the lead.
And just when Barça looked completely on the ropes, they took the lead back: Messi with the free-kick, a deflection off the Slavia defense and a great improvised finish by Suárez that hit Olayinka before going in.
Barça’s goal was a big blow to Slavia who struggled to attack and started to leave some huge spaces at the back, and Barça started to create chance after chance to kill the game. Suárez and Messi somehow wasted two golden chances in front of goal, however, and the game was still wide open as we reached the final 15 minutes.
Slavia went forward even more and sent as many crosses into the box as they could, but Barça managed to weather the storm and the final whistle came to end a brutally tough game. It was as difficult as advertised, the performance didn’t help, but this win is huge for our chances in the group.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; De Jong, Busquets (Vidal 77’), Arthur (Rakitic 83’); Messi, Suárez, Griezmann (Dembélé 68’)
Goals: Messi (3’), Olayinka (OG 57’)
Slavia Prague: Kolar; Coufal, Kudela, Hovorka, Boril; Soucek, Sevcik; Masopust (Van Buren 76’), Stanciu (Husbauer 76’), Zeleny (Tecl 45’); Olayinka
Goal: Boril (50’)