Uefa Champions League Group H: FC Barcelona 2 FC Viktoria Plzen 0

Barça maintain the battle with AC Milan at the top of Uefa Champions League Group H after a one-sided 2-0 win over FC Viktoria Plzen at Camp Nou tonight. Andres Iniesta opened the scoring early on after a fine combination with Leo Messi, but despite dominating completely our finishing let us down and we had to wait until the 82nd minute before David Villa made sure of the three points.

I was expecting Pep Guardiola to leave a couple of players out with an eye on the Sevilla game at the weekend, but he chose what was probably his strongest available XI for the game, though this is course suggests that Carles Puyol is no longer considered a first-choice starter, but given that our captain is now 33 and only just back from a long injury process perhaps it is normal that he is rested more than others.

We didn’t take long to find ways through Viktoria’s defensive lines, with first Iniesta and Villa combining on the left in the first minute followed by a one-two-three-four between Alves and Messi in the second before Alves shot over. Messi was finding space as Viktoria preferred a zonal defence and in the tenth minute Iniesta surged forward bouncing a couple of passes off Messi before clipping the ball superbly inside Cisovsky and firing low past Cech into the corner.

If Viktoria wanted to come after an equaliser they showed few signs of it, two or three times they managed some neat passing moves to bring the ball out of defence but they were never good enough to keep the moves going to create any danger. In the end they spent most of the game with the entire team pinned back in an effort to keep the score down. We did manage to find some gaps into the area but our shooting was generally poor especially from the forwards, and the referee showed that Messi is not likely to get a penalty in Europe either, in the 23rd minute he was clearly grabbed across the shoulder but the referee preferred to give an inexistant offside instead.

Some of our football was fantastic, on one rare counter-attack Adriano sent a long ball for Villa to chase, the Asturian held the ball up before squaring to Messi who got past one but could then only hit Cech who had come out to narrow the angle. As half time approached the chances started coming thick and fast.Pedro fired over when it looked easier to score, then Busquets’s scooped pass sent Messi in on the right but he could only shoot into the side-netting, Villa’s pass found Pedro but he couldn’t find a shot as the ball ran out of play, and then on the stroke of half time Messi curled a free kick that smacked against the post with Cech beaten.

There was even less ambition from Viktoria in the second half with Valdés a spectator apart from having Dani Alves get in his way for one cross. It seemed it was just a matter of time before we scored again. Messi was as usual at the centre of everything, in the 54th minute he might have had another penalty but he kept his balance instead of falling and couldn’t quite squeeze the ball home. However, the best from Messi was yet to come, in the 60th minute he received the ball out on the right touchline, he beat left back Limbersky for speed, then hurdled the challenge from Bystron, skipped past Pilar but his final shot could only find the outside of the post.

The chances kept coming but the ball just didn’t want to go in. Alves’s cross was just milimetres away from Messi’s lunge with the goal gaping, then Messi reminded us of his splendid goal against Arsenal last year with a delicate clip over the goalkeeper but this time Limbersky was back to deny Messi of his goal. We were maintaining an awful lot of possession but as we entered the last ten minutes there was the uneasy feeling that we could still be robbed of victory. Then in the 82nd minute Villa robbed Petrzela on the halfway line before sprinting away towards goal, he touched the ball through to Messi but as Limbersky got his foot to the ball it broke back to Villa who hit the ball first time inside the left-hand post. The other forwards remained goalless, Pedro had a chance near the end after an excellent run but instead of shooting he chose to pass badly to Villa, and Messi had one last attempt in injury time going past two more defenders but it wasn’t to be his day as he again shot wide.

We shouldn’t be disappointed with this result. Yes, we should have scored more but the play was generally of a very high level and we never gave Viktoria a sniff of goal.

Barça: (4-3-3) Valdés 6.5; Alves 7, Mascherano 7.5, Abidal 7, Adriano 6; Xavi 6.5, Busquets 7, Iniesta 8 (Keita m85 –); Pedro 6, Mess 7.5, Villa 7.5 (Cuenca m88, –).

Viktoria: (4-2-3-1) Cech; Rajtoral, Bystron, Cisovsky Limbersky; Jirasek, Horvath; Petrzela (Darida m86), Kolar, Pilar (Fillo m75): Bakos (Duris m57)

Goals: m12 Iniesta 1-0, m82 Villa 2-0

No cards for either team:

Attendance: 74,376

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10 Responses to Uefa Champions League Group H: FC Barcelona 2 FC Viktoria Plzen 0

  1. blaugranaboy says:

    moving past the obvious benefit of the win, you have to say, we were excessively wasteful. i found myself getting very frusrated in the 2nd half with the plethora of chances being squandered. like nic said, you were uneasy and that should never have been the case. pep’s post match words had elements of praise but i think in private quarters he will be a bit stern on them and remind them the danger of not putting away our chances.

    some of the play was however jaw dropping. the early one-twos between messi/alves then messi/iniesta for that stunning goal were delightful. iniesta had a stellar first half. man of the match though would be david villa for me. he made some crazy nice flicks, made some good passes, but also he tracked back a lot and put in tackles. he created the 2nd goal by pinching it off an opponent at the half way line.

    ok, now for something a bit contraversial. i almost dont think its correct to right this, but bear with me and try to look at it objectively. does anyone else feel messi is slighly over doing the dribbling so far this year? everyone, i know messi is not a selfish player and is a prime passer and assister, its one of his many brilliant qualities. players of his ilk (despite there not really being any) are allowed some liberties and maybe try the spectacular when an easy pass is on, but his year ive felt he is trying to take on too many players, but more importantly, trying a bit too often. several times this year ive felt he had an easier pass to villa or pedro in much better positions would have led to a more likely goal.

    and for a second bit of contraversy, that honestly i feel again silly writing cause its that 2+2 = 5 nonsense kinda predictions, but right now, i must say i feel a tad worried about madrid. they look super focused and killer on the pitch while at times we look a bit laissez faire. but yes i know, the way we play versus racing or pilzen does not predict the way we will play sunday, or in december, or verus madrid, or in big CL games. its just a bit of an observation more than a theory.

    looking forward to sunday.

  2. blaugranaboy says:

    and i am finding it quite annoying how some are equating this win to “grinding out a win” or saying crap lke “pilzen defended resolutely”. i dont understand this one bit. we did not grind out that win and pilzen’s defending is not why it was 2-0. poor finishing and some bad luck on a few shots are the sole reason for the seemingly small scoreline

  3. Bibin says:

    I would say Pilzen were brilliant with a lot of last ditch defending. But got to agree that we were rather watseful, looked like every player wanted to take a touch more before finishing the chance.

  4. Bibin says:

    Another issue is we are not letting Villa get into the box more often. If there is a player who will be interested in taking the shot at the first oppurtunity then it has to be Villa. Villa most of the time is geteting rooted on to the left

  5. Hilal says:

    Come on guys, we cant expect to win all the games 5-0. I think we are getting too spoilt. Its not like we didnt create chances or lacked effort or didnt work hard. This is football, sometimes the ball just doesnt want to go into the net. It happens. Next game they will all go in (i hope).

    On Messi, I have been reading the same comments on a lot of blogs, about him being a bit too selfish at times. I am not sure how I feel about this. In principle I agree, but at the same time I think he has earned the right to take on defenders more and be a bit more selfish. It also creates one hell of a spectacle for us. He didnt score yesterday and it could be argued that he was being a bit selfish but to be honest some of the runs he went on were just insane and on another night he would have scored at least one or two of those and nobody would be calling him selfish. My point being that if he stops being selfish we might be deprived of some of the amazing goals which he scores on a very regular basis. If that run that ended in the ball hitting the near post in the second half had gone in it would have been the goal of the season.

    I also dont think people are giving the opposition enough credit. They did extremely well to put us under a lot of pressure whenever we had chances to score making it very difficult to get a clear cut chance.. am not saying we couldnt have done better but I think you have to give them credit too.

  6. blaugranaboy says:

    i dont think anyone is expecting 5-0 every week, no on here certainly. but if u make 15-20 very to quite makeable chances, converting 2 is a bad return, simple as that. there are many times that opposing teams come and put up a real proper defensive wall we can barely break through and if then we only create 2 or 4 proper chances and convert 1 or 2 that is more than acceptable. but last night was no such event. sure they put in a some last ditch tackles here and there but this was not a tough game in any way shape or form. i preach often that fans dont respect their opposition enough and give merit to their abilities, but always harp on their own team, but tonight that is no the case, it was more about barca’s failing in front of goal than pilzen’s resolute commendable defending. an argument otherwise is not correct.

    but this game isnt worth a debate, and im not really harping on. we had an off night finishing, i hope it doesnt happen again and this team has proven its worth so im not going to predict its some disturbing trend. but barca were wasteful last night

  7. barcacentralroger says:

    On the Messi selfishness issue, I guess one problem with this 3-4-3 formation is that it pushes Villa and Pedro so wide that Messi becomes even more dominant than he normally does – especially as we are only playing 3-4-3 when we are confident that the other side is NOT going to attack, meaning that things are even more congested. I do think that wide options need to be employed more – more crosses from the byline – and we are missing Cesc as an alternative breaking into the box (Iniesta offers something quite different) but not the physicality and height that benefits wide play. But agree with what was said above – no major concerns at the moment.

    On a different (but related) note, I am really looking forward to Alexis making it back… all the excitement of a expensive new player and we’ve barely seen him (Cesc doesn’t quite count as a new player!)

  8. Caleb says:

    Messi does dribble a lot, and last night at times it seemed selfish. But you gotta love his hunger. He was going crazy that he didn’t have a goal. I think that may have been more of the issue. He’s desperate to score as many as possible. If you think about the beginning of the game, he had some of the best passing exchanges I’ve ever seen. First Alves and then Iniesta–which was, by the way, one of the sickest goals ever and we should be talking a bit more about that. He’s had a lot of really good passes this season.

    In fact, I think a few years ago he was more selfish and he’s been getting better as a passer over the last couple years. Last night was more dribbling than he usually puts in. I think he was frustrated by the goals he had missed and not being on the score sheet. I’m not too concerned.

  9. Caleb says:

    Also, he had one of the best runs ever with that shot that hit the outside of the post. I thought he lost the ball at least 2 times…

  10. blaugranaboy says:

    too true caleb, some of this early passes and runs were out of this world

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