- Barcelona wanted to pay back Benfica for a devastating 3-0 defeat at Estadio da Luz. However, it was not a definite favorite; the process of getting rid of the problems digesting the club is only in its early stages. Great hopes are attached to Xavi Hernandez, for whom it was a training debut in the Champions League
- Although the Pride of Catalonia scared the rivals several times, it either lacked a cool head or the defenders and goalkeeper Odysseass Vlachodimos, who consistently works on transfer to a stronger team, intervened brilliantly. Moreover, the guests had better situations, albeit unused
- A goalless draw ensures that everything will be decided on the last matchday. While the Portuguese will be the favorites of the home game against Dynamo Kiev, the Spaniards will have to rise to the heights of their skills to at least fight for the victory in Munich. If they lose and the same will happen to the Ukrainians, Blaugrana will say goodbye to the Champions League
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Before the season, it was hard to imagine that Barcelona would be trembling about leaving the group in the Champions League, and that Benfica would be picked up after a sensational defeat in Portugal 0: 3. Xavi, already in the second match as Blaugrana’s coach, and at the same time in his debut in the Champions League, had to fight for survival in the most prestigious European competitions.
The 41-year-old bet on a combination of experience and youth. In addition to Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets, they played, among others 19-year-old Nico Gonzalez, Yusuf Demir a year younger, and Gavi even younger. The injured Pedri (18 years old, winner of the Golden Boy plebiscite) and Ansu Fati (19) were still missing.
The guests arrived at Camp Nou fearlessly; in the end, the same rival, albeit with a different manager, at the end of September they dismissed 3-0 without any problems. Bayern showed their place in the row by winning 9-2 on aggregate, but the Catalan Pride has not been following the same path for several years as the Bavarian giant or the British mighty.
Jorge Jesus and his charges a few years ago would not have played with Barca with such great conviction about their own abilities. This time, however, this self-confidence was extremely important to them. When it was possible to strike, they struck. As the ball headed towards the goal of Odysseas Vlachodimos, he did not lose his heart. Blaugrana lost the ball? A wide formation of guests immediately transported her at least several dozen meters forward. These counterattacks were one of the decorations of the meeting.
The second was the rare but very effective spells of the hosts’ offensive. Memphis Depay tried to practice magic several times (unexpectedly the most experienced striker in the team – at the time of the transfer the Dutchman could not expect to play such a role), and Demir came to him. It was he who had the best opportunity when his beautiful croissant landed on the crossbar. The Spaniards were not lucky …
… but only in attack, because great luck favored them in defense. It is enough to mention the 35th minute, in which Roman Yaremczuk’s powerful header hit Ter Stegen after a corner kick, and the next corner ended with a surface-to-air rocket by Nicolas Otamendi. This ball would even demolish the wall placed on the goal line, but the hosts were helped by technology – the football, when it was heading into the penalty area, went outside the pitch.
Barcelona looked for their chances in positional play and piercing two formations at the same time with passes, which often significantly disrupted midfield and defense, but missed the goal. The sacrificial interventions of both defenses allowed the goalkeepers to keep clean sheets, but did not make any of the teams happy.
In the 84th minute the Camp Nou stands went mad with joy after Ronald Araujo’s goal, but the referees again did not recognize the hit, this time due to offside. The 22-year-old, however, managed to complete the celebration … and, like Bartosz Kapustka in the past, suffered an injury.
At the very end the Spaniards had their own situations, but undoubtedly the best chance of the match was wasted by Haris Seferović. The Swiss was already alone with the German goalkeeper after a last chance counterattack and even managed to lob him, but later, when he only had to direct the ball into the net, he made a cruel mistake. The only thing left for him to do was to grab his head, knowing that he had the issue of promoting his team to the next stage of the competition.
Ultimately, everything will be decided in the last round of the LM group stage. Barca will go to Munich and Benfica will host Dynamo Kiev. In both games it is easy to identify the favorites and, if the most likely scenarios come true, the Catalan Pride will play in the Europa League this spring.
Barcelona – Benfica (0: 0)
Yellow cards: Pique – Grimaldo, Mario, Vlachodimos, Taarabt
Barcelona: Ter Stegen – Araujo (86 ‘Garcia), Pique, Lenglet (86’ Dest), Alba – Busquets, Frenkie de Jong, Nico – Gavi, Depay, Demir (66 ‘Dembele)
Benfica: Vlachodimos – Gilberto, Almeida, Otamendi, Vertonghen, Grimaldo (81 ‘Seferović) – Weigl, Mario (59’ Taarabt), Rafa (70 ‘Lazaro), Everton (70’ Pizzi) – Jaremczuk (59 ‘Nunez)