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Through to the last sixteen with a game in hand, there was plenty for the fans to talk about as they left the stadium (or the TV screen) after the 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund. Here are some of things we've been discussing here in the Barça offices.
Friends will be friends
What can be said about Leo Messi and Luis Suárez that has not been said already? In the first half the duo assisted goals for each other, and that takes their combined total of goals for Barça up to 800. That’s 613 for the Argentinian and 187 for the Uruguayan, the first and fourth highest goalscorers in club history. What a time to be a Barça fan!
As Suárez was only saying in an interview only last week, being such close friends off the pitch works wonders for their performances together on it. And tonight was the perfect proof.
Ousmane Dembélé had spoken before the game about how much this game meant to him. He spent a joyous season at the German club and was bitterly disappointed to miss the game against his old friends at Signal Iduna Park through injury. And this return meeting was less than half an hour old when the Gallic striker was hobbling off clutching his thigh. The tears on his face showed how devastating it was. Even some of the Dortmund players consoled him. Gutted.
A different team
Particularly in the first half, Borussia Dortmund seemed unrecognisable from the side that caused Barça so much trouble in the opening fixture in Germany, with many pundits going as far as to say that the Catalans were fortunate to come away with a point. Tonight, Die Schwarzgelben took the total opposite approach. Ultra-defensive, unaggressive and settling for the occasional counter attack, we only really got to see them on the front foot when it was too late … for them!
Leo Messi’s name is far more likely to go into the referee’s book for scoring goals than for collecting cards. But he was yellow carded tonight as he took a tumble following a Maradonian run into a perfect scoring position. It’s not like Messi to dive in a situation like that and his gesture to the referee seemed like a clear confession that it was a fall not a foul. Despite his commendable gesture of fair play, his name went into the book anyway. Harsh.
It’s not easy to compile talking points about Barça games without almost all of them involving Leo Messi in some way or other – and here we go again! His goal against Dortmund adds a 34th name to his list of Champions League victims, breaking the 3-way tie in that department with Raúl González and Cristiano Ronaldo.
For the record, only five opponents have managed to avoid conceding UCL goals to the superlative Argentinian:
One of those teams, Inter, are Barça’s rivals in the final game. Bring on number 35!
Elsewhere in the group
A Slavia Prague victory over Inter Milan in tonight’s other Group F fixture would have meant Barça qualified for the round of 16 regardless of what happened at Camp Nou. The Catalans' 3-1 win meant it ultimately didn’t matter anyway, but the Italians won by the same 3-1 scoreline with goals from Lautaro Martinez (2) and Romelu Lukaku.
That means that despite some impressive football in thei games, not least in the 0-0 draw at the Camp Nou earlier this month, the Czech champions don’t even get the consolation of a Europa League berth. Inter and Dortmund are now locked on seven points each and on the final day will each host teams, Barça and Slavia, who have nothing but pride to play for.
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