What a truly enjoyable victory. Matches like that are too far and few between for followers of FC Barcelona. To have an opponent come to Camp Nou without fear or trepidation and unreservedly impose their game onto the blaugrana is something to admire and acknowledge. And it almost worked. That is the type of victory that carries with it benefits well beyond the three points. To toil that hard to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat creates energy, confidence and resolve. All that and more will be needed for the group of players still physically able to carry Barça through a period of adversity. Another notch too on Luis Enrique’s belt. Whereas Roger Schmidt’s scheme was every bit evidence of the German’s reputation, it was his adversary who eventually put the pieces in play that turned the tide. Two goals in two minutes transformed a match of suffering into one of conquest.
Let’s be honest. Not a lot of us will care too much about the result or the performances in the game against Las Palmas. The team got a win, Luis Suárez scored a brace and Marc-André ter Stegen failed to keep a clean sheet (again), but the only real talking point following the game was Lionel Messi. The best player in the world suffered an injury early on in the game and had to be replaced by Munir el Haddadi, heading straight down the tunnel once he was taken off. It has now been confirmed by the official Barcelona twitter account that Leo suffered a tear in the internal collateral ligament in his left knee and will be out for seven to eight weeks.
A lot has been said about his injury and a lot will inevitably be said until he recovers. For now, let’s focus on the match and the numerous talking points that littered its duration,
I’m going to make this quick. Celta de Vigo showed Barcelona tonight just how important it is to take your chances. While Celta were without a doubt the better team on the pitch, Barcelona still created many chances although the score line might not suggest that. But at the end of the day, goals are all that matter. Last season’s match at the Camp Nou also sent Barcelona the exact same message. You can play the finest football the world’s ever seen, but it will all be for nothing if you don’t seize your opportunities.
No harm, no foul. A point at the most difficult away ground of the group is an entirely satisfactory result in FC Barcelona’s (realistic) quest to become the first back-to-back Champions League winners. It was testament to AS Roma’s immense effort to earn this draw that, as the minutes ticked towards 90, more and more of those in Roman red fell to the floor with cramp. Barça could have easily walked away with the three points whereas Roma needed one of the goals of competition history to earn the draw. Overall, both teams looked pleased enough with how the result sets them up for the remainder of the group.
It seems incredible to say this after a treble-winning season, but Saturday night’s match against Atlético Madrid might just have been Luis Enrique’s best yet. It had little of the meteoric thrill that pervaded his side in the first half of 2015, from that first 3-1 thrashing of Atlético Madrid to the exhilarating defeats of Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich. Six months ago, Luis Enrique’s Barcelona felt like a juggernaut, cutting through every team in Europe out of sheer momentum – nobody really knew where it came from or how long it would last, but they loved every second.
This season, the sensations have changed. The invincible have suddenly seemed human, the defense no longer impregnable, the ultra-fit squad suddenly fatigued and injury-prone. Most people, sensible, have stopped short of predicting doom and gloom for the reigning Spanish and Europe champions, but the atmosphere is no longer so electric. There is a sense that the Catalans will have to work hard just to make it through the fall. And that’s exactly what they did last night, thanks in large part to Luis Enrique.