Viktoria Plzen 2-4 Barcelona
Barcelona had little on the line against Viktoria Plzen in what will be their final Champions League game until September of 2023 at the earliest, save good sensations and confidence according to manager Xavi Hernandez. They might have scored four goals, but neither was this the rounded performance they might have wanted.
Just five minutes in, Barcelona were ahead after Ansu Fati’s shot was parried by the goalkeeper. As it dribbled along the line, Marcos Alonso slid in to take the lead.
Viktoria responded and it took the offside flag and some good saves from Inaki Pena to keep them out. Yet just before half time, Raphinha clipped a ball over the defence, Jordi Alba headed across goal and Ferran Torres finished with aplomb.
The second half Viktoria had something to show for their efforts. Pablo Torre, on his first Barcelona start, bundled over the Viktoria forward who was through on goal. Vaclav Pilar sent Pena the wrong way with his penalty.
Barcelona responded almost immediately through Torres, who showed excellent footwork to interchange with Raphinha and finish first time in the box.
Their defending in Europe was once again the subject of debate though, as Alonso and Gerard Pique could not keep an eye on Chory in the middle of the box. The giant striker powered his header into the corner.
A final sweet note was reserved for Torre, who got a goal on his full debut. Losing the Viktoria defence, he took a ball over the top well and fired home emphatically.
That contrasted with the sour notes, as Torre injured himself in the process and came off for Alvaro Sanz. Ten minutes previously Marc Casado came on for his debut, but for an upset looking Franck Kessie, who was also injured.
Barcelona come away with a win and perhaps the most positive part will be the minutes for the young players and the good form shown by Ferran Torres, responding to a bad miss against Valencia on Saturday. Xavi will await the results of the medical report with apprehension.