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Borussia Dortmund 0-0 Barcelona, Champions League: Match Review

Recap of the action from Barcelona scoreless start to the new Champions League season.

Borussia Dortmund v FC Barcelona: Group F - UEFA Champions League Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

On the wings of a masterful showing from Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Barcelona escaped Dortmund with a point against Borussia. It was another “less than ideal” away game for the Catalans, who still haven’t won away from home in three tries this season, as Borussia, and especially Marco Reus, will be kicking themselves for the missed opportunities.

With Lionel Messi still not fully fit, though able to make the bench for the first time this season, Ernesto Valverde sent out his arguably strongest lineup. Luis Suarez made his first start since the La Liga opener while youngster Ansu Fati made his second consecutive start, adding another record to his name as he became the youngest Barcelona debutant in the Champions League.

In excellent atmosphere at the Signal Iduna Park, both sides looked to play a high-tempo game, but the hosts were able to show more in the early going, however, the Catalan defense was able to do enough that ter Stegen wasn’t called into action. Paco Alcacer, though, did have a great look on goal after a deep Antoine Griezmann turnover, but the former Barcelona-man missed wide.

Barcelona created their first scoring opportunity in the 13th minute after a lovely Ansu-Suarez-Griezmann combination which left the Frenchman in space for a perimeter shot. The shot, however, was blocked for a corner kick with a diving intervention. The Catalans threatened from the following corner kick, with Gerard Pique flicking the ball on right in front, but couldn’t get the slightest of necessary redirections that would result in the opener.

Both sides maintained good tempo, but the hosts continued to enjoy more success even though Barcelona held a possession advantage. Borussia’s excellent speed from most of their players often left Barcelona in trouble as they struggled to match that pace, especially on the counter attack. And on one such counter, in the 25th minute, the hosts almost took the lead. A couple quick, crisp passes combined with excellent movement led to Thorgan Hazard springing Reus behind the line to leave the German alone in front of ter Stegen. Reus wasted no time in firing on goal, but was denied by his compatriot in Barcelona’s goal.

Barcelona didn’t create their next scoring chance until the 36th minute, again from a set-piece from a free kick the left side, which came a couple minute after Jordi Alba was left holding his hamstring. Arthur sent in a dangerous cross that wasn’t cleared as well as it could’ve been and Ansu was able to control the ball at the top of the box and fire on goal, but saw his try redirected over the bar. Two minutes later Borussia launched another attack, but it ended with the ball whistling over the crossbar. Alba tried to soldier on, but was visibly limping and had to be taken off in the 40th minute and replaced with Sergi Roberto, who took his spot on the right side of the back-line, moving Nelson Semedo to the opposite side.

Another Barcelona chance came from a set-piece came in the second minute of added time, this time from a corner kick. Arthur sent the ball to the near post where Griezmann flicked it on, but before Pique could bury it Mats Hummels managed to clear it away. Another half-chance followed moments later from a free kick, but Barcelona ended the first half without a single shot on goal and the game still scoreless.

No substitutions were made during the break, but Messi started to warm up immediately after the restart. Barcelona threatened quickly after the restart, with Suarez dribbling into the area after he was found by Semedo. From a tough angle, the Uruguayan fired a good shot near-post, but Roman Bürki made an excellent save. Barcelona quickly lost the ball from the ensuing corner kick, and Borussia immediately countered and won a free kick in perfect spot, but Alcacer fired it straight into the wall.

Barcelona might have started the second half with an early opportunity, but Borussia controlled the game after Suarez’s shot on goal. The hosts were pressing mostly down the right side, where Barcelona were playing without a natural left-back, and it appeared to have paid dividends in the 56th minute when Jadon Sancho won a penalty kick after a Semedo foul. Reus stepped up to take the kick, but once again the German in Barcelona’s goal won the battle, making a brilliant save to keep the game scoreless.

In the 59th minute, Barcelona made a double substitution - Valverde completing all three substitutions before the one hour mark. Messi and Ivan Rakitić were brought on in place of Ansu and Sergio Busquets. Borussia’s pressure continued even after the double change, and the hosts remained the better team on the pitch. Barcelona struggled to step on the ball to give their defense a breather as the hosts created a handful of decent looks that on a different day could’ve led to goals.

In the 76th minute, Borussia came within inches of taking the lead, but substitute Julian Brandt was denied by the crossbar after a powerful shot from 25-yards out. A minute later, more lovely passing led to another chance for Reus on the doorstep, but again he was denied by ter Stegen. The rebound fell back to Reus who took another shot, but yet again ter Stegen won the duel.

With time running out, Barcelona finally managed to pin Borussia deep, but creating a scoring opportunity proved a tougher task. With Barcelona spending more time in attack, Borussia started to look for chances on the counter attack. Three minutes were added on, but neither side was willing to risk anything in the dying moments, leaving the final score the same as it was at kickoff, though Barcelona could’ve stolen it in the last second, but Messi’s close range shot was blocked by Thomas Delaney. Barcelona football will return on Saturday when the Catalans will look to finally win an away match.

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