Barcelona 3-1 Borussia Dortmund
In Catalonia, this was just what the doctor ordered.
It defies belief that Barcelona have been criticised so harshly of late, but then again, this is no ordinary club.
After a series of uninspiring, although largely winning performances, this was more like it.
A goal for captain Lionel Messi on his 700th appearance for the club and a showing of some swagger.
Barca have won Champions League Group F with a game to spare.
Highlights of the game
Both the hosts and Borussia Dortmund knew victory in the Nou Camp would take them into the last 16.
Both also knew there was an element of pressure in both camps going into the contest.
The criticism of Barcelona came from the first third of the season and the likelihood that for the first time in decades, La Liga is unlikely to be won by a club posting over 80 points (if the current rate of results continues).
Not since Valencia clinched the title in 2004 have so few points been needed to win the Spanish title. Some believe that is an indication of how Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, who have been Spanish football’s dominant forces in recent years, have lost a bit of their gloss this term.
How Dortmund would wish for such concerns.
They had taken just a point from their last two Bundesliga outings, losing 4-0 to Bayern Munich before drawing with bottom side Paderborn – the first time they had overhauled a three-goal deficit since a 3-3 draw with rivals Schalke in September 2008.
Yes, the SBOBET Champions League 2019 betting odds were against them. But they had shown their mettle when they hosted Barcelona back in September on a night when their performance at Signal Iduna Park warranted much more than just a goalless draw.
Barcelona were without Gerard Pique (suspended) and injured full-backs Nelson Semedo and Jordi Alba, although centre-back Clement Lenglet was passed fit to play following a calf strain, as was midfielder Ivan Rakitic.
Dortmund were missing former Barcelona striker Paco Alcacer, who has gastroenteritis and injured Danish pair Thomas Delaney and Jacob Bruun Larsen.
The surprise Champions League 2019 news saw Jadon Sancho dropped to the bench, and it proved costly with the match all but lost by the time he entered the fray.
Antoine Griezmann was only named on the bench for the hosts, too, but he was on by the 24th minute after former Dortmund youngster Ousmane Dembele picked up an injury and limped off.
Within five minutes Barcelona were ahead.
First, it was Messi who played Luis Suarez through to slot past Roman Burki before they swapped roles as Suarez set up Messi to find the bottom corner on his landmark night.
It was actually a mistake from Mats Hummels which paved the way for the second goal as he played the ball straight to Frenkie de Jong, leading to a one-two combination between the prolific front pairing.
Dortmund, who had gone close to taking the lead in the opening minute, carved out a few chances and forced Marc-Andre Ter Stegen into a reaction save on the hour to deny Julian Brandt.
That was a miss they would regret when Messi spearheaded a counter-attack that saw him feed Griezmann on the left, and the Frenchman beat Burki to make it 3-0.
The visitors enjoyed their best spell of the match after that and pulled one back when Sancho took advantage of some slack defending and fired into the top right corner.
Ter Stegen’s heroics ensured there was no frantic finish, and Dortmund travel to Italy in a fortnight’s time needing to avoid defeat against Inter Milan to stay in the competition.
Messi is only the second player to make 700 Barcelona appearances.
The 32-year-old, who has scored 613 goals for the club, is behind Xavi’s appearance record of 767.
The Argentine has now scored against 34 different opponents in the Champions League – the most of any player in the competition’s history with Cristiano Ronaldo and Raul Gonzalez on 33 opponents each.
Both Messi and Suarez are now on 10 goals for the season, with the former on two and the latter on three in the Champions League.
Griezmann has become the seventh player to score for and against Barcelona in the tournament after Phillip Cocu, Cesc Fàbregas, Eidur Gudjohnsen, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Gaizka Mendieta and Marc Overmars.
Barcelona have never lost against Dortmund in their four meetings (won two, drawn two).
Barcelona have won 14 of their 16 home Champions League matches against German opponents – their two defeats have both been against Bayern Munich (2-1 in November 1998 and 3-0 in May 2013).
Since the start of the 2017-18 season, Barcelona have drawn five Champions League games 0-0, two more than any other team.
Dortmund have won on just one of their 16 previous visits to Spain (drawn five, lost 10), beating Atletico Madrid 1-0 in the 1996/97 Champions League group stage on their way to lifting the trophy.
A massive match awaits Barca now on Sunday (December 1) as they take on struggling Atletico Madrid in Griezmann’s return.
Dortmund will be at Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga 24 hours earlier.
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