Tottenham Hotspur were humbled on October 3rd as Spanish champions Barcelona recorded a comfortable 4-2 win. The victory leaves them joint top of the group, with the club having a very good chance of reaching the knockout stage. If the group stage finished now, there would be a very good chance that the current Spanish champions could face off against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. The current Man City odds to win the Champions League are fairly good which means that Barcelona’s true ability will be tested, and also means Pep Guardiola will be able to visit his old club.
Meanwhile, Tottenham are currently third in their group after failing to pick up a single point in their opening two matches.
Before the match even kicked-off, Barcelona were backed as the favourites, primarily due to Tottenham’s injury crisis and their inconsistent form at the start of the season. Thanks to injuries in previous games, Tottenham were without key players Christian Eriksen, Mousa Dembele, Jan Vertonghen, Dele Alli and Serge Aurier. Meanwhile their opponents, Barcelona, had no issues and fielded their strongest eleven, including Argentine superstar Lionel Messi.
Despite being slight underdogs, there was still a belief amongst Tottenham fans that they could still record a victory over the Spanish champions. In last season’s campaign they managed to record a convincing 3-1 win over eventual Champions League winners Real Madrid. Although Tottenham did field a slightly stronger team compared to this year’s game, it showed exactly how deadly they can be on a good day.
However, all thoughts of another dominant win against Spanish opposition were immediately silenced as Philippe Coutinho put the Catalan’s ahead inside two minutes. Lionel Messi’s majestic ball found Jordi Alba on the left hand side. Hugo Lloris’ decision to rush out to Alba proved costly as he found Coutinho on the outside of the box, who then powered the ball into the back of the net.
Things would get even worse for the North London side just half an hour later as Ivan Rakitić doubled Barcelona’s lead with a sensational strike from outside the box. The Croat’s powerful volley hit the inside of the post and rolled into the net, to the delight of the Barca fans.
Although Barcelona ran the show in the first half, it would be Tottenham who would find the back of the net next, thanks to a clever finish from Harry Kane. Just minutes after Messi failed to make it 3-0 in Barcelona’s favour, Tottenham hit them on the counter and gave themselves a way back into the game.
However, Tottenham would find themselves two goals down again just a few minutes later when Lionel Messi calmly placed the ball in the bottom left corner of the net. A clever dummy by Suarez left Messi alone in the box and the Argentine took full advantage of the situation.
At 3-1 it seemed like the game was secured by Barcelona, but Spurs gave them a fright when Eric Lamela pulled one back for Spurs in the 66th minute. His deflected shot narrowly crept over the outstretched arm of Marc-Ander ter Stegen and gave Spurs an outside chance of grabbing a point. Although Lamela’s goal gave them hope of grabbing at least one point, Barcelona killed off any hope of a comeback with Lionel Messi scoring his second of the night in the 90th minute.
However, there was only one man who fans and pundits couldn’t stop talking about after the match – Lionel Messi.
There’s no denying the ‘genius’ of Lionel Messi on the pitch, but the Argentine showed the Wembley crowd just how good he is. Whenever Barcelona play a Premier League team in the Champions League there is always a debate about whether he’d be able to compete in England. His performance showed that he definitely would.
His performance can only be described as a ‘masterclass’, as the Argentine produced one of the most complete performances you can see from any modern footballer for around 82,000 spectators. The history books will remember the two goals he scored, but it is very doubtful that it will remember just how dominant he was. Tottenham may have managed to keep him away from the goal in first half, but the Argentine was still running the show from deeper positions, providing key passes in Barcelona’s first two goals. As well as showing off his passing ability, his movement during the game was also sensational meaning that the Spurs players were unable to get close to him.
There is no doubt that the ‘main man’ of the night was Lionel Messi, thanks to his sensational individual performance. His man of the match performance has put them in a very strong position to qualify for the next round, and allows them a bit of ‘free room’ in their upcoming games against Inter Milan. Meanwhile, Tottenham’s horrid start to their Champions League campaign leaves them third in their group, six points off second place. They’ll have to record some positive results in their next four group games if they are to have any chance of progressing, including their game against Barcelona at the Camp Nou.