Barcelona Draw with Dortmund in UCL Group Stage as Messi Returns from Injury

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistSeptember 17, 2019

DORTMUND, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 17: (L-R) Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona, Marco Reus of Borussia Dortmund  during the UEFA Champions League  match between Borussia Dortmund v FC Barcelona at the Signal Iduna Park on September 17, 2019 in Dortmund Germany (Photo by Laurens Lindhout/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Barcelona earned a 0-0 draw away to Borussia Dortmund in Group F of the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League on Tuesday thanks to a penalty save from Marc-Andre ter Stegen on a night when Lionel Messi came off the substitutes bench to make his return from a calf injury.

Germany international goalkeeper Ter Stegen denied Marco Reus from 12 yards in the 57th minute and also got to the rebound. Barca couldn't take advantage of Ter Stegen's heroics even after Messi made his first appearance of the season, replacing 16-year-old Ansu Fati just before the hour mark.

The stalemate at Signal Iduna Park ensured the Blaugrana made a solid start to the group, even though Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann failed to convince up top.

Barcelona were underwhelming for most of an underwhelming first half. Messi watched from the bench as his team struggled to sustain possession and create chances.

The Blaugrana weren't punished for their sloppiness because of Dortmund's passive approach. Rather than seize the initiative, the hosts appeared cautious and only managed to force a routine save from Ter Stegen against a Reus shot.

Thankfully, the pace of play was upped after the break with former Barcelona striker Paco Alcacer going close. Meanwhile, Mats Hummels was causing problems from set pieces.

Dortmund were in the ascendancy, and the penalty was justified when Semedo recklessly swung a boot at Sancho. However, Ter Stegen wasn't awed by Reus, although the agile stopper appeared to have advanced off his line just before the spot-kick was taken.

Heeding the warning, Ernesto Valverde called on Messi. The Argentinian entered the fray in place of Fati, with the teenager enduring a mixed debut at this level.

Messi's introduction had little initial impact, although it was more down to his supporting cast. The classy No. 10 produced some exquisite through passes in his first action of the season but often saw Suarez waste them with a heavy touch.

Sluggish play from Barca's usual match-winners allowed Dortmund to stay on the front foot, however, the finishing touch continued to elude the home side. Substitute Julian Brandt crashed a terrific shot off the bar, while Reus spurned a host of promising chances, often finding Ter Stegen a stubborn last line of defence.

A point was all Ter Stegen's stellar performance merited, though, largely because of the way Suarez continued to flounder, while Griezmann was largely anonymous.

Even with Messi back in the fold, Barca have a lot to do to convince anyone they are legitimate contenders for this season's trophy.

   

What's Next?

Barca face Granada away in La Liga on Saturday, while Dortmund will travel to Eintracht Frankfurt for Bundesliga action on Sunday, 22 September.

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