Barcelona off to a flyer ahead of El Clasico
Barcelona came into Tuesday’s match in need of a confidence-boosting result after defeat to Getafe last time out and with Real Madrid up next on Saturday.
The Catalan giants took a while to get going but duly delivered a great result and a fine performance to kick off their Champions League campaign in some style.
There were plenty of positives to takes from the match. The youngsters all shone yet again, Lionel Messi was back on the scoresheet as was Ousmane Dembele.
Barca’s next two games will of course be a far more reliable indicator of their current status under Koeman, but this was a great result to take into those crunch games.
Messi gets Barcelona going
There were a few mutterings about Messi’s form going into the match and whether he should rest, but the captain brushed those off with an influential display.
The 33-year-old got Barcelona going with a brilliant run that saw him go past three defenders before being brought down in the penalty area.
Messi duly converted the spot-kick for his second goal of the campaign and to ensure he’s now scored in the Champions League for 16 seasons in a row
Leo #Messi is the first player in @ChampionsLeague history to score in 16 consecutive seasons! #UCL— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) October 20, 2020
There was much more from the captain though who was a threat all night. Barca’s best work came when their Argentina international was involved, and he also picked up an assist for Dembele’s goal.
Messi has had a busy schedule over the last few weeks but looks set to start again in El Clasico and seems in good shape to take on Los Blancos.
Pique red hands another chance to Araujo
Of course it wasn’t quite a perfect evening for Barcelona. Gerard Pique’s rather needless red card means he will sit out the trip to Turin, meaning Ronald Araujo should start again.
It was a pretty silly foul from Pique too. The game was already won but he couldn’t help himself. Don’t forget he also saw red at the weekend but was saved by the offside flag.
In any case it’s now over to Araujo to show what we can do. He’s proven to be a pretty handy backup and will face another challenge next Wednesday against Andrea Pirlo’s team.
Araujo has never started in the Champions League but will partner Clement Lenglet in Turin in a game which could go a long way to deciding which team finishes top of Group G.
Bad night for Griezmann
Ronald Koeman again made changes to his team and left Antoine Griezmann on the bench, and it’s entirely possible the Frenchman could stay there after this result.
Barcelona looked far more fluid in attack without the Frenchman. Indeed Francisco Trincao enjoyed a promising Champions League debut in his 63 minutes on the pitch on what was his first start.
Dembele also looked bright after replacing the youngster, teeing up Pedri for his first Barca goal and then netting for the first time in over a year. How good must that feel?
Of course Pedri is also pushing for another start and admitted after the game he’s doing his best to make it hard for Koeman to leave him.
The Barca boss played down Griezmann’s absence after the match and insisted it did not mean he would not play on Saturday. His teamsheet for the Clasico will be eagerly-awaited.
Another record for Ansu
Ansu Fati certainly looks more of a starter against Real Madrid than Griezmann. The 17-year-old added another record to his collection with the second goal against Ferencvaros.
It came after a lovely dinked pass from Frenkie de Jong for Fati to apply the finish for his fourth goal of the season already.
The strike is also his second in the Champions League, and nobody has done that before at his age.
17-year-old Ansu Fati becomes the youngest player to reach two goals in the UCL pic.twitter.com/N1hCszGcPx— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) October 20, 2020
Fati wasn’t done there either. He was part of a very neat team move for Philippe Coutinho goal’s, setting up the Brazilian with a clever flick to ensure he grabbed an assist too.
Classy stuff from the teenager.