Bayer Leverkusen 1-3 Barcelona: 6 Things You Must Know
A Xavi-less Barcelona still scored three times against Bayer Leverkusen in their UEFA Champions League round-16 first leg.
If you didn't watch the game, then this is a must-read article for you.
Who was the better player for Barcelona? Alexis or Lionel Messi?
Here are six things you must know about the game.
Barcelona's Tactical Formation
The team Guardiola submitted on paper lined up in a standard 4-3-3.
This was matched up against Robin Dutt's 4-1-4-1, which at times resembled 4-6-0, hence why Bayer Leverkusen were so narrow.
The issue facing Leverkusen was retaining possession because at halftime they had only completed 56 percent of their passes.
This was compounded by the fact they were chasing shadows 77 percent of the time.
Alexis Produces the Goods
During the first 15 minutes of the game, it seemed as if Alexis was playing as a centre forward.
However, as the game progressed he drifted towards the right.
At the same time, he wasn't a wide forward so a right attacking midfielder would be an accurate description of his position tonight.
He occupied the space in between Michal Kadlec and Manuel Friedrich, which was smart because the centre-back had no chance in a one-versus-one situation.
The end result was two goals for the Chilean.
Dani Alves' Incisive Wing Play
Dani Alves just owned the right flank. Robin Dutt has to ask where was Gonzalo Castro?
He should have been helping Michal Kadlec double team Alves.
The Brazilian combined beautifully with Lionel Messi.
Man of the Match: Lionel Messi
Without Lionel Messi, Barcelona wouldn't have scored three away goals, because he was at the centre of everything.
His low centre of gravity, his strength and will to assert himself was on show tonight.
He dribbled his way around Lars Bender and Stefan Reinartz time after time.
He scored a great goal after shrugging off Reinartz's foul, could have scored another if not for the post and provided an assist.
There's a reason why Messi is the two-time reigning FIFA Ballon d'Or winner.
La Masia's Influence
With the exception of José Manuel Pinto, Pep Guardiola's bench was stacked with youngsters with an average age of 21.
Pedro is proven quality.
Thiago is already a high IQ and polished midfielder, who has completed 92.9 percent of his passes in La Liga.
Isaac Cuenca is one to watch out for because this has been his breakout season.
What Do Eren Derdiyok and Santiago Cañizares Have in Common?
Spanish football aficionados will be familiar with Santiago Cañizares ruling himself out of the 2002 FIFA World Cup after a freak accident.
Cañizares had accidentally smashed a bottle of aftershave which led to a shard of glass severing a tendon in his big toe.
Eren Derdiyok did a Cañizares, thus meaning he missed the game against Barcelona.
Derdiyok knocked over a glass bottle and thought he had finished cleaning the mess, until blood started spurting out—he had stepped on glass.
Robin Dutt must have face palmed upon hearing about Derdiyok's misfortune.
Please read Top 15 Player Outbursts.
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