As Lionel Messi and company staged a miraculous comeback to defeat Sevilla and go to the Copa del Rey final, Barcelona fans were offered a little reprieve from the club’s off-field problems.
Barcelona, down 2-0 from the first leg, got on the board early due to a spectacular goal from Ousmane Dembele, and then forced extra time with a thrilling header from Gerard Pique in the 94th minute.
Sevilla will be left wondering what might have been when Marc-André ter Stegen denied Lucas Ocampos a goal from the penalty spot on 73 minutes.
Martin Braithwaite, a forward from Denmark for Barcelona, ended up being the hero when he scored the game-winning goal four minutes into extra time from a cross by Jordi Alba.
This was a bright point in an otherwise difficult week for the club, bookended by two historic events.
Domination at Its Peak
The match between Barcelona and Viktoria Plzen was widely anticipated to be a walk in the park for the Catalan club, but few predicted that they would win by such a landslide.
The opposing team spent the whole match chasing after Blaugrana players and saw very little of the ball. It felt as if the entire contest took place inside Plzen’s territory.
When Barcelona lost the ball, they immediately rushed hard to regain it, and then they would launch attack after attack at the defenceless opposition.
Xavi’s squad held the ball for 76% of the game, including an astounding 81% in the first half. The previous night, Viktoria Plzen only completed 223, while Barcelona completed 738.
A total of 20 shots were taken, 11 of which were on target, and four good scoring opportunities were made.
The Catalan club can take very few negatives away from their season-opening UCL match. Still, Xavi’s subs are a potential weak spot.
This night, the manager was able to rest his star players without sacrificing performance, thanks to smart rotations. His in-game judgement, however, was not stellar.
Pedri is one of the few consistent midfielders for Barcelona this season, and he got the nod in the match against Viktoria.
Xavi should have taken advantage of the wealth of substitutes available to him and taken him off the field early in the second half, given his excessive workload this season.
Futbol Club Barcelona, or simply Barcelona, is a professional football club headquartered in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, that plays in La Liga, the highest division of Spanish football.
Founded in 1899 by footballers from Switzerland, Catalonia, Germany, and England.