After Barça’s loss to Alavés on the weekend, it’s for sure that many British pundits saw Tuesday’s game as a massive chance for Celtic to come away from the Camp Nou with something. But taking all of the rotations into account, not to mention the substandard performance of many players against the Liga newcomers, it was clear to Barça fans that Saturday’s game was a mere blip from players and coach, and that a full strength team could easily brush aside Celtic. And they did.
We were just three minutes into the game when Neymar played a ball through to Lionel Messi who smashed the ball into the top right corner from an acute angle. An early goal was crucial in this match, as playing against a team set out to defend their box can get tense as the minutes tick away, so this was the perfect start.
After such a perfect start, it seemed that a mistake from Marc-André ter Stegen to give away a penalty 23rd minute could have let Celtic back into the game and given them a chance to defend for a point, but the great German pulled off a brilliant save from the Moussa Dembélé’s spot kick to keep Barça in front.
Just a few minutes after Ter Stegen’s save and Barça walked the ball into the net. Some ‘Alvessi‘ style passing between Neymar and Messi saw the Argentine prod in the blaugrana’s second of the night. Barça’s dominance carried on throughout the first half with Celtic limited to chasing shadows and fighting for scraps, but the teams went into halftime with the scoreline at a generous, for the Bhoys, 2-0.
A game like this calls out for the world’s creators. The dribblers, the magicians, the artists. So, as if there weren’t enough of them on the pitch, Luis Enrique decided to take off Ivan Rakitić, a player more about work rate and tackling than attractiveness, and brought on the artist of all artists. Andrés Iniesta. The English version of his recently released book is even named ‘The Artist’!
The Camp Nou clock hit the 50th minute, Messi and Neymar were standing over a freekick well in range. Messi was obviously in a charitable mood especially after Neymar’s two assist in the first half, and the tattooed blondie watched on as Neymar swiped the set piece over the wall and past Celtic ‘keeper Dorus De Vries who could’ve and probably should’ve done better.
The party was just getting started at the Camp Nou, and another cracker was about to be pulled. Neymar ran down the left-hand side of the Celtic defence, clipped the ball to the edge of the box where Iniesta rattled home a beautiful right-footed volley. Looking back at the replay from behind the goal, and you can really see how the man from Fuentealbilla adjusted his footing with a little dance-like movement as he visioned how he was going to hit the volley, and he hit it perfectly. Yet, somehow, Andrés made such a powerful shot look so graceful and beautiful. Like a true artist.
Four goals in and the floodgates were well and truly open. Messi bagged his hat-trick with 60 minutes gone, Luis Suárez added another a whole 15 minutes later (what a drought!) with a thumping shot after a brilliant chest and swivel. Suárez then got his second of the match after a beautiful pass from Iniesta put Messi into the box who squared it to the Uruguayan for the seventh and final goal of the game.
The first European night of the 16/17 season saw Barcelona break their record for biggest win in a Champions League match, just edging the 7-1 thrashing of Bayer Leverkusen in 2011, and also saw Celtic and manager Brendan Rodgers record their biggest loss in Europe.
So now that things look back to normal, well at least what is seen as normal at FC Barcelona, maybe we will see a bit more of a routine game this weekend against Leganés.