As Barcelona arrived at Bay Arena, they had a clear mission; to show the rest of Europe they were ready to defend their Champions League title. It may not have been the most satisfying display from Barcelona, but it was enough to secure a first round win for ‘Blaugrana’.
No one expected the match to be an easy one, and as a matter of fact, the last time the two teams met during a two-legged tie was almost twenty years ago…and the Germans were victorious that time.
For much of the first half Bayer Leverkusen chose to sit back, often with five defenders strung across the back-line. The first forty-five minutes was played almost all in the German half with FCB probing for a gap in defense. The opening wouldn’t come until late in the first half when Alexis finally managed to break through and to put Barca into the lead.
Second half saw a more decisive Bayer and their determination paid off as full-back Kadlec equalized. But the celebration was short-lived as Messi would find Alexis with a beautiful pass, and that led to the second goal for Barcelona.
The German side continued to search for another equalizer but Valdes was in top form and close to flawless.
The final goal would come late in the second half from Leo Messi. Alves found Messi with a cross as the little Argentine drove to the Bayer six-yard box.
The game certainly didn’t lack for the theatrics that we have all become so accustomed to during European games. Both sides were guilty of a number of uncalled diving incidents.
When the referee did pull out a yellow card he got it wrong. Castro was booked in the 80th minute, while the truth is that the ball had run out-of-bounds and Busquets was the villain of the piece rather than the Bayer player.
Post game, Guardiola praised the team performance; “These guys are artists when it comes to competing”. FCB seems well on course for the Quarterfinals, and are set to face Bayer in the second leg on March 7th at the Nou Camp.
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