Lionel Messi and Frenkie De Jong were left at home, while injuries to Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti and Ronald Araujo meant that Clement Lenglet was the only senior centre-back in the squad. Also, Sergio Busquets was injured on Spain duty this past international break, so Ronald Koeman was light on options in the middle of the park as well.
Despite this, the Catalans managed to produce an especially impressive second-half performance to blow away their hosts and secure passage to the knockout stages of the Champions League with two games to spare.
Sergino Dest scored his first goal for the club, Martin Braithwaite bagged an impressive brace and Antoine Griezmann scored a lethal finish in injury time in a game that boded well for the Catalans’ strength in depth.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) November 24, 2020
Speaking after the game with Movistar+, Koeman was content with their performance. “We achieved our goal, which was to get a good result and qualify for the round of 16,” he said. “The team has shown energy. We lacked effectiveness in the first half but we had it in the second half. We can be very happy.
“Tactically, we were better than in the first game against them, especially in midfield. We had intensity and concentration. In the first game we lacked that.
“[Mingueza] has shown that we can count on him. He has been training with us for five to six weeks. He has given us a good impression and today he has fulfilled, like many others.
“I liked the collective image we showed today. That’s what we want. Today we have seen a very hungry team. We scored four goals, important players were able to rest, and the youngsters have deserved these minutes. They have delivered.”
Next up for Barcelona is a clash with Osasuna at Camp Nou on Sunday afternoon. The Azulgrana are currently 12 points behind league leaders Real Sociedad and just four clear of bottom-placed Celta Vigo. They’ll hope victory in Ukraine can be the catalyst for a domestic resurgence, too.
Featured image courtesy of FC Barcelona.