The Camp Nou felt the joy of Champions League football once again. As FC Barcelona took on predicted bottom of the group finisher Viktoria Plzen.
Barca needed to get off to a quick start, mostly because of the competition that existed within their group. Slip ups weren’t desired, and Barca can’t afford them either, as at least an advancement to the knockout stages remained the absolute goal.
How did Barca’s opening match in the Champions League go? Let’s find out.
The first half was a bit of a slow burn, with Barcelona controlling most of the possession while trying to create high danger scoring chances vs the deep defense of Plzen.
In the 13th minute, Barca quickly capitalized on their rapid start. As new signee Franck Kessie opened the scoring.
Franck Kessie opens his Barca account
After an Ousmane Dembele corner kick, the ball found the head of Jules Kounde. Kounde then tapped a header towards Franck Kessie, who delicately tapped home a header to give Barcelona a 1-0 lead over Plzen.
With the squad being heavily rotated prior to tonight’s match — and Barca’s previous Champions League embarrassments at the Camp Nou — Barca desperately needed a quick start on the score sheet. Kessie’s goal gave them that, and set up Barca to start an avalanche of sorts in terms of scoring chances.
But in the 24th minute, Barca ran into a bit of a scare.
Plzen was awarded a penalty after Andreas Christensen tackled Plzen Jhon Mosquera. To make matters worse, Christensen was shown a devastating red by the referee.
Things went from bad to worse, but Barca received some relief after a quick look at the replay. The replay showed Christensen being elbowed in the face prior to his inadvertent tackle on Mosquera. If corrected, VAR would erase the red card shown to Christensen and the penalty awarded to Plzen would be overturned.
After some assistance from VAR, that’s exactly what occurred. As the referee took away Christensen’s red card and Plzen’s penalty. A yellow card was also shown to Mosquera due to his elbow to Christensen’s face. And with that, Barca avoided an early scare.
Minutes after the scare though, Barca converted on another scoring chance of their own.
Lewandowski continues his dominance
After a decent counter attack, it was Robert Lewandowski who joined the fun once again. Sergi Roberto pushed the play forward after regaining possession for Barca. He ran his way into Plzen’s final third, and laid the ball off to Lewandowski.
Lewandowski then controlled the ball, took a few touches, and fired a pretty shot past Plzen’s goalkeeper.
It was 2-0 Barcelona vs Plzen, and a deserved 2-0 lead at that. Barca was running rampant, and they looked to be well on their way to an important opening match win in the Champions League.
Plzen gets on the board
However, the joy of Barcelona was short lived, as Plzen scored right before halftime stoppage time to bring the score to 2-1. It was a confusing goal of sorts, as the deflected ball that led to the cross could’ve been approached differently by Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.
But it was a goal Barca had to live with due to their defensive mistakes. The only way they could make up for the goal was to either shore up defensively, or score another goal.
Barca opted for the latter, as it was Lewandowski who scored again.
Lewandowski converts again
The action began with Dembele, as he lost possession near the touchline on the right win. But after he lost possession, the Frenchman hustled and stole the ball right back from the Plzen defense. Dembele then settled himself, lofted a beautiful right footed cross into the box, and found Lewandowski who guided his header home.
This is exactly why Dembele is the best winger int he world. Lewandowski will feast this season. pic.twitter.com/LbgUdPnN2z— speedwagon (@husovo) September 7, 2022
3-1 was the score now. Which felt more comfortable from Barca’s point of view after Plzen scored just minutes earlier.
After Lewandowski’s goal, halftime arrived. Barca was in full control, with Plzen struggling to keep up with Barca’s pace. All that was left for Barca to do was to hold onto the lead, and avoid any unnecessary mistakes.
Or if Barca wanted to go a step further, they could score some more goals to add to their lead.
What did they do exactly? Let’s find out.
The start of the second half was more of a slow burn compared to the start of the first half.
Barca did in fact run into some chances. But the same intensity and fire wasn’t there in the attack, which led to some stagnation up front in terms of creating chances.
We did however see some more goals scored by Barca after some substitutions were made. Out of Barca’s two goals in the second half, both of them were created by Ferran Torres.
The former Manchester City centre forward came on in the second half and made an impact. The first was a bit less explicit than his second goal contribution. But it was still one worth noting.
Lewandowski nets his first Barca hat trick
In the 67th minute, Barca was in the process creating a counter attack. The ball fell to the feet of Torres, who quickly tapped a pass back to Lewandowski. The Polish star then fired a right footed shot towards Plzen’s goal, and into the back of the net.
Lewy scores another and completes his first Barcelona hattrick as well as his first Barcelona Champions League hattrick! Torres with the set up as Barca go 4-1 up! pic.twitter.com/gfh5i4xJ7w— BarçaBanter (@BanterBarca) September 7, 2022
The goal gave Lewandowski his first ever hat trick in a Barca shirt. And with how he’s been playing recently, it’s surprising the hat trick didn’t come sooner. But he apparently saved his biggest moment as a Barca player so far for the Champions League. Which is poetic in a sense, due to his traditional success in Europe’s finest football competition.
The tally gave Barca a 4-1 lead, and put any remaining doubts about their ability to win this game to bed.
But for one last firework, Torres — who played a fantastic game today — wanted to score a goal of his own.
Ferran Torres boosts his confidence with a goal
After a good looking ball from Dembele, Torres found himself in a 1v1 situation with the Plzen goalkeeper. Instead of panicking and ruining his shot though, Torres settled down, and cleanly caught a half volley to give Barca their 5th goal of the match.
Not long after setting one up for Lewandowski, Ferran Torres scores himself, collects the ball beautifully and hits the ball on the volley! Ousmane Dembele with another assist to his name. 5-1! pic.twitter.com/5QuCKqwhq0— BarçaBanter (@BanterBarca) September 7, 2022
Torres has been fighting a lack of confidence over the last few weeks. Mostly due to his frustrating play that carried over from last season, his injury that costed him an entire pre-season, and a bad start to the year that saw him get relegated to bench duty.
But in this moment, he found a goal that should help increase his confidence moving forward. Which is something Barca needs from their reserves, as everyone will see some minutes due to the harsh schedule that is set to be played before the start of the World Cup break.
Barca’s 5th goal was the last of the match, as Barca walked away with a 5-1 win. The win gave Barca a well deserved 3 points in the group, and continued their good stretch of form to start the season.
This was a good win for Barca. They needed a good start in the group stage after rotating the squad. But also to ease the concerns of the Camp Nou not being a fortress against European competition.
They’ll need to continue this good form next weekend and next Tuesday. First up, against Cadiz, who beat a struggling Barca side twice last season. After that, the long awaited return for Lewandowski at the Allianz Arena against Bayern Munich.
Buckle up, these next few weeks should be fun.
Barca’s next match
Barca’s next match will be on Saturday against Cadiz away from the Camp Nou.
See you all then!
I’ve been a big time Barca fan since I was 14 years old. I love the club, the history, and the tradition that the club has built over its prestigious history. Forca Barca!