UEFA Champions League, Group H: FC Barcelona vs. FC BATE Borisov Roundup
The night began with BATE Borisov tied in group H standings with FC Barcelona. Unfortunately for the Minsk club, that was the highlight of the night, as the Blaugrana once again proved why they have the reputation of being the best football club in the world.
Forty one thousand souls packed the Dynamo stadium to support the local team dressed in all yellow on a cold, rainy night. Barcelona took the field dressed in all black, a great contrast to the home colors. As the match began, the loud support from the stands created an atmosphere of hope that rapidly diminished as the game progressed and Barcelona settled into their signature attacking and possession style of play.
The score opened up on a long cross from Dani Alves intended for Lionel Messi that was deflected by Volodko into his own goal at the 19th minute. Only three minutes later, the second goal graced the back of the net on a superb pass from David Villa that resulted in a header by Pedro.
The night didn't get any easier after that, as Barcelona commanded control of the ball for 80 percent of the half. The disparity in ball possession, coupled with a constant attack of give and go, gradually destroys the spirit of any team. It was no different for BATE, and by the 38th minute, the psychological effects resulted in Barca's third goal, as the BATE goalkeeper erroneously batted the ball to the ground in front of his goal, only to stand two feet away, helplessly watching, as Messi headed the ball in calmly for a 3-0 halftime lead.
The second half wasn't much different, despite the lively enthusiastic support from the home crowd. Barcelona continued to display technique and finesse that La Massia demands. Messi and Villa continued the barrage of goals with two more in the second half, resulting in a 5-0 demolishing of the home team.
While few, if any, anticipated much of a challenge from the Belarus club, the disparity in quality of play still yielded and affirmed a few notable observations. For one, Javier Mascherano once again proved to be a reliable shutdown defender worthy of the position, while Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique get back in playing shape. Secondly, Barcelona's roster is replete with talent. What a luxury to have Cesc Fabregas and Adriano come off the bench to replace Xavi Hernandez and Abidal and continue to maintain or increase the level of play on the pitch.
The Cesc-Messi tandem has proven to be a lethal combination for opposing teams. Today, BATE experienced some mercy from them since the game was pretty much over by the time Cesc came on as a substitute.
The BATE crowd should be commended for their unrelenting support throughout the whole game despite the overwhelming control and impressive result by Barcelona, who now must prepare to take on Sporting Gijon on Oct. 2.
AC Milan also won their Group H match today by a score of 2-0, and now stand atop group H along with the mighty Blaugrana in Champions League play.
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