Barcelona made a statement in their UEFA Champions League first-leg tie, as they ran out 4-1 winners over Italian side Roma. The win means that Ernesto Valverde’s side are in the driving seat as we approach the second leg in Rome, although an away goal from the visitors caused some doubt before that was all but extinguished by the team who many consider being the favourites to become Champions of Europe next month.
It wasn’t exactly an easy path to victory for Barca, and at points, they looked extremely off their game, but all that serves to do is make them seem all the more terrifying with tougher opposition to come. This is one of the most well-rounded units we’ve seen in European football in years, to the point where scoring four goals at home in a UCL knockout game is considered to be an average day at the office.
There were points during the game early on when Barcelona looked too comfortable, to the point where they were almost being sloppy. Unfortunately for visiting fans, their side did nothing to really put them under any substantial pressure, and courtesy of that Barca, who are aiming for treble glory this year, began to step it up a notch.
Roma captain De Rossi’s determination led to a risk or reward situation which didn’t pay off, as he slid Iniesta’s cross in to give the favourites the advantage. From that point on that had a series of potential decisions not go their way including a penalty shout, which left Edin Dzeko in particular feeling aggrieved at the full-time whistle.
The second own goal of the game made it two for Barca as Manolas found himself between a rock and a hard place, before a Suarez rebound fell to the feet of Pique who was on hand to add insult to injury.
Then, the aforementioned Dzeko managed to net an away goal which would’ve seemed much more important had Luis Suarez not got himself on the scoresheet late in the day to restore their three-goal advantage.
Barca have a league game to contend with at the weekend, which will be followed by their trip to Rome for the second leg. Based on this evidence their fans probably shouldn’t be sweating all too much, as they have a whole other gear they can move into should they find themselves in any kind of trouble away from home.
If anything, tonight was just the starter, and the main course is yet to come.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen (6), Roberto (6.5), Semedo (6), Pique (7.5), Umtiti (6), Alba (6.5), Rakitic (8), Busquets (6), Iniesta (7), Messi (7), Suarez (6.5)
Subs: Paulinho (6), Andre Gomes (6), Denis Suarez (6)
Roma: Alisson (7), Peres (7), Fazio (6), Manolas (6), Kolarov (7), Strootman (7), De Rossi (6.5), Pellegrini (7), Florenzi (7), Dzeko (6.5), Perotti (7.5)
Subs: Gonalons (6), El Shaarawy (6), Defrel (6)
Goals: De Rossi OG 38′, Manolas OG 55′, Pique 59′, Suarez 87′ :: Dzeko 80′
Referee: Danny Makkelie
Yellow Cards: Kolarov, Strootman
Red Cards: N/A
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