The Azulgranas fought back from a goal deficit to take the three points against Unai Emery's side in the team's first game of the Champions League. The comeback wouldn't have been possible without these players...
The Barça B youngster trotted out onto the pitch seconds before the starting whistle as David Villa and Alexis Sánchez looked on from the bench. Tello was named to the starting line-up for the first time in a Champions League match, and he didn’t disappoint. On 13 minutes, the youngster received the ball from Xavi, skipped past his mark and nailed a low, hard right-footed shot to Dikan’s far post. It was Barça’s first, and his first for the senior Azulgrana side in sixth months.
In the second half, with Barça trailing Spartak by a goal, Tello rounded his defender, reached the end line and served up the tying goal for Messi on a silver platter. The forward was subbed off for David Villa on 73 minutes. Tello was, as far as this column is concerned, the man of the match.
Navigating a match with nearly all 22 players (with the exception of Valdés) jammed into the latter third of the pitch isn’t easy, especially if you’re tasked with commanding the team’s engine room. Flanked by Cesc and Busquets, Xavi completed 92.3% of his 143 passes. He poked and prodded Spartak’s defensive wall and never really allowed the Russians to feel too comfortable when Barça were on the ball (which was most of the time, 72.4%). The headlines will rightfully be grabbed by last night’s goal scorers, but we shouldn’t forget that Xavi engineered the framework upon which these men were able to find the back of the net.
After the match, football pundits noted that Messi had a relatively discreet showing against Spartak. Nevertheless, the Argentine notched up two goals in nine minutes, making him the fourth all-time goal scorer of the competition (he’s is currently five goals adrift of Andriy Shevchenko, 7 away from Ruud van Nisletrooy, and 17 from Raúl), and secured the three points for Barça in the team’s debut match of the 2012/13 Champions League competition. We should all be hope for equally discreet showings in the future.