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FC Barcelona vs Viktoria Plzen, Post-Match Analysis

Barcelona

FC Barcelona’s return to the Champions League this season brings different memories. The poor outing last season was challenging for the Cules. If the team led by Xavi has made any progress, Champions League is the perfect stage to showcase it.

Viktoria is the most diminutive threatening side in the group of ‘death’. The matchup was, therefore, not considered serious competition. Yet Barcelona was aware that it had to prove a point to the elite of European football. And it did just that. A 5-1 score line is the testament to utter dominance from the Blaugranas.

FC Barcelona First Half display

Xavi lined up with the usual 4-3-3, albeit with different payers. Kessie was handed his first start in a Barcelona shirt. De Jong, Roberto, Alba, and Ansu were also given the nod for their first start of the season.

FC Barcelona had the front foot from the starting minute. The visitors were conservative with their press, maintaining a low block. These particularly helped Barcelona’s case. Viktoria’s low block meant that Barcelona had the ball in their half for most of the match. The game plan from Viktoria’s side was set. They allowed Barcelona to have the ball and control the proceedings while looking for opportunities to hit Barca on the counter. But the sheer capacity of the Barcelona side was unmatched by Viktoria.

Barca kept the ball well while circulating it effortlessly. The backline of Kounde and Christensen was unchallenged as they looked for passing lanes. Christensen, in particular, was influential in his role. The Dane took the ball into the final third unchallenged. The spaces in the Viktoria midfield were where Barcelona enjoyed the most spell of possession. Pedri was continuously in the heart of everything. While Barcelona was enjoying possession, it had a motive to break the low block and exploit every space that opens up. Barca was fairly successful in doing that. After repetitive knocking at the Viktoria backline, Barca got its first goal. A cheeky cross from the corner by Dembele was met with a cut back by Kounde into the danger area. Kessie, completely unmarked, was able to head it home for his first goal.

The wingers, Ansu and Dembele, were operating in the half spaces, while the full-backs provided the width. Ansu, in particular, was more central. Ansu’s position enabled Lewa to drop deep to receive the ball and link the play. Lewa’s position in the deep offered the Barca backline another option to pass the ball into if Viktoria midfielders tightly marked the interiors. The passing exchanges between Pedri and Lewandowski were a treat to the eyes, complementing each other with frequent movements.

The second goal came from a quick transition. Roberto made a classic run with the ball and passed it into the path of Lewa. Lewa, in turn, was composed and shot the ball into the far corner. Frenkie’s maneuver throughout the pitch was essential to how Barcelona operated. He connected the play well from the defensive midfield role while making runs upfront.

FC Barcelona was also effective with their high press. As soon as the ball was lost, the players regrouped to block every passing option. This forced the Viktoria players to attempt a long ball into the forwards. In moments when the press was broken, Barcelona looked unsettled in their defensive third. This was evident from the only goal that Viktoria scored. A moment of loss of concentration by the defence led to the goal, while Alba also lost his marker.

Dembele was influential throughout the match. In an instance of pure class, he won the ball back through a tackle and laid off a perfect cross for Lewa, who was waiting for it by the far corner. Lewa scored his second, while the game tasted another goal.

The Second half

Roberto was substituted for Pique; it was a precautionary substitution. FC Barcelona continued with the same intensity and pressure. Victoria, meanwhile, resorted to fielding five players inside the penalty box.

The fourth goal came in the 67th minute. Alba’s ball to Ferran was passed into the path of Lewandowski with a cheeky back heel. Lewa didn’t make any mistake and placed the ball perfectly into the net. The fifth goal came from utter individual brilliance. Dembele perfectly timed his loop ball for Ferran’s run. Ferran put his shot with a volley to top the spectacular performance. Barcelona’s real taste is against Bayern Munich in Munich.

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