BARCELONA MADE TO SWEAT IN GERMANY BUT GRAB MAX POINTS
Gerard Pique kept Barcelona on top of Group C with a second half winner in his side’s tense 2-1 win over Borussia Monchengladbach.
The Germans picked Barcelona’s pocket in the first half taking the lead against the run of play through Thorgon Hazard. But it was Yann Sommer in the home side’s goal that gave the visitors a chance to win, spilling Luis Suarez’ shot and allowing Pique to score the rebound.
Substitute Arda Turan had already leveled with a thumping equalizer so the three points went to Barcelona despite a performance that for the most part had been as off-colour as their pastel green jerseys.
Without the distinctive blue and claret colours and without Leo Messi’s industry and imagination Barcelona looked un-recognisable as they struggled at Borussia Park.
The signs of a sloppy performance were there from just two minutes when Pique stuck an arm out to block a Hazard shot in the area. Referee Damir Skomina failed to spot the error and they went unpunished.
It was always going to be a real test for Chelsea’s 20-year-old loanee centre-back Andreas Christensen up against Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan spun away from his marker on 10 minutes leaving him on the deck, but then skied his shot well wide of Sommer’s goal.
Suarez then set-up Paco Alcacer for Barcelona’s next best chance but his pass was underhit and the former Valencia forward was never going to beat full-back Julian Korb to the ball.
Barcelona were failing to find their range at one end although at the other end Marc Andre ter Stegen, who received a huge ovation from the home fans before the game, had had little to do against his former side. On 32 minutes he was called into action and it didn’t end well.
Sergio Busquets was robbed of possession in midfield by Rafael and the forward sprinted away releasing Hazard. A former Chelsea player had done for Real Madrid the night before now it was a current Chelsea player’s brother putting Barcelona behind.
Borussia Park was really behind the underdogs now. Suarez missed another chance volleying a Rakitic pass straight at the goalkeeper as a frustrating first half came to a close.
Barcelona had been an uncharacteristic mess in the first 45 minutes. Alcacer was getting in Suarez’ way, Busquets and Iniesta were getting in each other’s way, and Neymar was drifting somewhere between midfield and attack and being comfortably over-run by an impressive Monchengladbach side.
If Luis Enrique was tempted to make changes at half-time he resisted but only until the 50 minute mark when Rafinha came on for Alcacer who had looked lost all-night.
Barça continued to misplace passes although Rakitic did his best to lift them from their slumber with a shot from distance saved by Sommer.
In keeping with many of Luis Enrique’s choices on the night he then took Rakitic off. The Croatian international had looked the liveliest of Barcelona’s below par midfield but was the man to make way for Arda Turan.
No matter. The change worked because it was Turan who got Barcelona back in the game. Neymar played the ball just beyond Monchengladbach’s defensive line.
Barcelona sit comfortably at the top with 6 points with Mancity 2nd after thier Draw with Celtics in Scotland.
Excerpts from www.dailymail.co.uk