Barcelona thrashed Borussia Monchengladbach 4-0 in last night’s UEFA Champions League tie to end the group stage on a high.
With a number of regular first-team players either suspended, injured or rested, Luis Enrique made eight changes to the side that started El Clasico, but Barcelona still managed to utterly dominate Borussia Monchengladbach throughout the game.
Lionel Messi – who retained his place from the El Clasico – started off the proceedings by opening the scoring in trademark fashion, slotting home with a fine finish across goal after playing a nice one-two with Arda Turan. Turan then scored a hat-trick in the space of 17 second-half minutes as a Gladbach side that looked complacent at times were utterly dismantled.
The final positions in the table in Group C had already been decided before Tuesday night’s fixtures, with Barca topping the group ahead of Manchester City and Gladbach finishing in third, so this game was a bit of a dead rubber but still provided plenty of interesting talking points
Arda Turan has had a pretty underwhelming start to his Barcelona career, but is slowly beginning to come into his own in this Barcelona side. Turan was Barcelona’s best player on Tuesday night, notching up 3 goals and an assist.
He was Barcelona’s most dangerous player throughout, regularly getting in behind Gladbach’s defensive line – like when he set up Lionel Messi’s opener with a one-two with the Argentinian. Turan also made 2 key passes throughout the game. In addition to this, he managed to bag a hat-trick in just 17 minutes in the second half. The hat-trick itself, while unspectacular, was down, once again to good movement and smart finishing, something that Barcelona thrive on when their quick passing game is at it’s best.
Turan was Barcelona’s man of the match without a doubt, and the Catalans will be hoping he continues to put in performances like this for them.
Tuesday night’s result was possibly Barcelona’s best performance of the season – even though they were missing several key players. The Catalans utterly dominated the Bavarian team, ending the game with 72.4% possession, a 91% pass success rate and 4 goals. They had 13 shots to Borussia’s 1, and played a whopping 993 passes, with 905 of those being successful, according to whoscored.
This heatmap courtesy of Squawka should tell you everything you need to know about just how dominant Barcelona were on the ball :
Time and time again Barcelona cut Monchengladbach’s defence open, and the German side were basically passengers throughout the proceedings. If Enrique’s team can put in more performances like this one, they are definitely one of the strongest favourites for the Champions League this year.
Messi the Puppeteer
Lionel Messi was not the star of the game, but he was a key part of Barcelona’s dominance. The Argentinian striker was always involved in attacking moves, with 67 accurate passes and 2 key passes in his 84 minutes. His impressive run in the Champions League continues, and his interchange with Turan led to his 93rd in the Champions League goal, which leaves him just 3 adrift of Cristiano Ronaldo in the race to be the first man to an unprecedented 100 Champions League goals.
Lionel Messi has now scored 10 goals in just 5 Champions League games this season.
Running rampant. pic.twitter.com/vQk17vJ7Zk
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 6, 2016
Messi has repeatedly stated he is not as concerned with individual achievements as he is with his team’s victories, and last night was an encapsulation of that sentiment. Messi was always looking for teammates and had a hand in almost all of Barcelona’s goals. Messi’s all-round game is one of the reasons he is considered a better player than Ronaldo, and he proved his ability in that respect once again last night.
Iniesta returns with a bang
Luis Enrique may have played down Andres Iniesta’s influence on Barcelona after the game, but make no mistake – Iniesta is key to Barca’s success. Iniesta has been injured for the last six weeks, and Barcelona have failed to win four of seven games in that period. Iniesta instantly made a difference against Real Madrid in the El Clasico, and was once again instrumental in midfield last night. Iniesta made a mammoth 118 passes last night, with 109 successful passes and a pass accuracy of 91%. He also made 2 key passes, and had 124 touches of the ball, all in just 60 minutes on the field.
What a splendid return of Andrès Iniesta to the starting XI!
The maestro is back, and the Barça passing machine is back.#xGplot #passmap pic.twitter.com/kPo6nqmEAb
— 11tegen11 (@11tegen11) December 6, 2016
His composure on the ball and dribbling ability is something everyone knows about him, and his ability to dribble past players with a quick turn of pace and deft touches is key to Barcelona’s quick transitions. That Iniesta was not dispossessed even once last night is a testament to this.
Enrique may have played down the midfielder’s influence, but he will definitely be praying Iniesta can stay fit and firing for the rest of the season.
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