Lionel Messi was on fire as Barcelona secured a comfortable 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund to seal a place in the Last 16 of the UEFA Champions League.
The hosts were in complete control of the tie, especially in the first half, where they attacked the vulnerable Borussia Dortmund defence relentlessly. The Bundesliga giants looked clumsy and nervy when playing the ball out from the back. So essentially, they made a host of defensive errors throughout the game.
It was only a matter of time until Luis Suarez found the opener in the 29th minute, which pretty much opened the floodgates for Dortmund and made them even more fragile at the back. Lionel Messi took full advantage of that situation, netting the second goal just a minute later.
Very little changed in the second half, although the visitors did look a lot more composed on the ball. They tried to push for the equaliser, but conceded the third on the counter, thanks to Antoine Griezmann. In the end, though, Dortmund did grab a consolation goal through Jadon Sancho.
However, it was too little too late for the Germans, who were completely outclassed by Barcelona. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ernesto Valverde’s men following their 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday.
Marc Andre ter Stegen: 8.5/10
Barcelona no. 1 ter Stegen once again showed his true qualities on the night. Although he wasn’t nearly as busy as he was in the reverse fixture, the German responded whenever he was needed. He notably made two excellent saves to deny Julian Brandt and then, Jadon Sancho.
That being said, ter Stegen should have done a little better in keeping out Sancho’s effort which led to a goal. But, the fact that he was up to the task whenever he was called upon, despite actually experiencing a pretty quiet evening, is the sign of every top keeper.
Sergi Roberto: 8/10
Deputising for the injured Nelson Semedo, Sergi Roberto looked sharp throughout the course of the game. He offered very little freedom to the likes of Nico Schulz and Raphael Guerreiro and also made a few key interceptions.
Samuel Umtiti: 8/10
Continued his excellent run of form by helping the Barcelona defence remain resilient against a sharp Borussia Dortmund side. The Frenchman always had the better of Julian Brandt in the final third while his aerial prowess restricted the opposition from crossing the ball into the box.
Clement Lenglet: 8/10
Replacing the suspended Gerard Pique, Lenglet’s aggression and tenacity were critical in minimising the influence of Marco Reus. The Frenchman also made a host of interceptions and tackles in the defensive half.
Junior Firpo: 7.5/10
Firpo was quite influential in the first half, especially when making offensive runs into the final third. These runs allowed Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann to have an additional passing option. Overall, it was a solid performance from the full-back, although he limped off at the end.
Sergio Busquets: 8/10
Busquets clearly wasn’t the flashiest player on the pitch. But, his ability to rotate possession and read the game allowed Barcelona to dominate the midfield throughout the course of the game. His quick thinking also helped him remain one step ahead of his counterpart, Axel Witsel.
Frenkie de Jong: 8.5/10
Complemented the efforts of Busquets in midfield by dictating the tempo of the game with his tip-top passing. The Dutchman looked quite comfortable with the ball at his feet and rarely conceded possession. His cross-field passes were also a delight to watch.
Ivan Rakitic: 8.5/10
Rakitic was arguably the best performer on the pitch within the first 15 minutes. The Croat made quite an impression in his rare start, linking up with Messi and Luis Suarez. His one-touch passing was impeccable while the veteran midfielder also showed tremendous work ethic.
Lionel Messi: 9.5/10
Messi stole the show with his delightful tricks and solo dribbles that completely bamboozled the Dortmund ball trackers. The Argentine was just simply too good, notably beating Mats Hummels in a solo run. Not to mention, he was involved in all three goals.
Messi’s pass to find Griezmann for the third goal was simply delightful while the forward also showed excellent anticipation to capitalise on Mats Hummels’s mistake to score the second goal. A top drawer display from the Barcelona captain.
Luis Suarez: 9/10
Suarez may not have seen the ball as much as Messi and Griezmann. But, the Uruguayan showed impeccable positioning sense and intelligence to not only execute flawless one-touch football, but also put himself in scoring positions.
The ex-Liverpool forward produced an excellent finish to score the opener and was a threat to the Dortmund defence throughout the game.
Ousmane Dembele: N/A
It was an unfortunate evening for Ousmane Dembele, whose game was cut short after he picked up a knock around the half-hour mark. As a result, he had to make way for Griezmann.
Antoine Griezmann: 8.5/10
Replaced Dembele in the 26th minute and showed exactly what Barcelona were missing. The Frenchman was one of the most active players on the pitch and combined quite well with Messi, Rakitic and Suarez. Moreover, his work-rate and tenacity put further pressure on the Dortmund defenders. Scored the third goal to cap off an excellent display.
Arturo Vidal: N/A
Came on for Rakitic in the 78th minute to provide more solidity in midfield. But, he wasn’t really up to the mark as Dortmund did dominate the last ten minutes of the game.
Moussa Wague: N/A
A late replacement for the tiring Suarez.