Barcelona finished their 2022-23 Champions League run in positive fashion thanks to a very fun 4-2 win away to Viktoria Plzen in the group stage finale. A heavily rotated Barça side didn’t play amazing football but still created enough to score four goals, and Plzen put up a good fight in what ended up being a very entertaining 90 minutes in the Czech Republic.
Barça made a pretty good start, dominating possession and moving the ball quickly while also making excellent runs in behind the defense to create spaces inside the Plzen defense. They also scored early, with Marcos Alonso showing great desire to pursue the ball and score on the rebound from an Ansu Fati shot to give the visitors the lead.
Unfortunately the Blaugrana couldn’t maintain the same level after the first 15 minutes, and the game became a lot more even as Plzen threw caution to the wind and started attacking with real purpose and courage. The home team hit the crossbar and forced three really good saves from Iñaki Peña, and Barça were really lucky not to concede the equalizer.
After surviving the Plzen pressure the Catalans made their job easier with a crucial second goal before halftime: after a gorgeous sequence of passing in midfield, Raphinha found Jordi Alba with a perfect ball over the top and Alba set up Ferran Torres for an easy tap-in. The goal was initially ruled out for offside, but VAR corrected the assistant’s mistake and gave Barça a two-goal lead.
At halftime, Barça were up two goals but not playing great football and needed to improve their quality to finish the job in the second half.
The first 20 minutes of the second half were pretty wild: Plzen had nothing to lose and threw everyone forward looking to get back in the game, and they got an early goal when Tomas Chory was brought down inside the box by Pablo Torre and scored the penalty to get his team back in the game.
Barça responded right away and restored their two-goal lead when Ferran and Raphinha made a one-two inside the box and Torres scored his second on the night, but Plzen did not give up and made it 3-2 after a cross from the left found Chroy all alone in the six-yard box to head it home and score his second of the game.
The Blaugrana managed to slow down Plzen’s momentum by keeping the ball a little more and be safer with their passing, but they still needed a fourth goal to put the game out of reach. And they got that fourth in amazing fashion: Raphinha played an amazing pass over the top to find the run of Pablo Torre, who scored his first goal for the club with a fantastic finish to make it 4-2 and kill things off.
Barça just ran out the clock in the dying minutes, and the final whistle came to end Barça’s Champions League run this season. Finishing third in the group with 7 points was never the plan, but there’s no other option but to go forward and try to win the Europa League. This was a fun game and the likes of Ferran Torres, Pablo Torre and Raphinha played very well, so this ended up being a good night.
Plzen: Stanek; Holik, Hejda, Pernica, Jemelka (Havel 58’); Ndiaye (Bucha 58’), Kalvach (Cermak 79’); Jirka, Vlkanova, Pilar (Kronus 88’); Chory (Bassey 79’)
Goals: Chory (pen 52’, 63’)
Barcelona: Peña; Bellerín, Piqué, Alonso, Alba (Balde 57’); Gavi, Kessie (Casadó 67’), Torre (Sanz 77’); Raphinha (Dembélé 77’), Ferran, Fati
Goals: Alonso (6’), Ferran (44’, 54’), Torre (75’)