Barcelona got off to a victorious start in their 2023-24 Champions League campaign, inspired by Joao Felix’s stellar performance to beat Antwerp 5-0. The Portuguese international opened the scoring and set up another within the first 45 minutes with a cleverly drawn finish, and then provided a fantastic cross for Robert Lewandowski’s second.
Barça’s third decision came more due to luck, as a cross from Raphinha was inadvertently deflected into their net by Antwerp defender Jelle Bataille. Later in the match, Gavi added a fourth with a powerful finish in the top corner, breaking Antwerp’s defense.
Following Raphinha’s cross, Felix scored a fantastic back-post header to make it 5-0 for Barcelona, capping off a superb performance.
Goalkeeper and defense:
• Marc-Andre ter Stegen (6/10): Had little to do during the game, raised the flag for offside before a second-half free-kick, and left a simple double-save to late. A quiet night.
• Joao Cancelo (7/10): Given permission to push forward and managed well in the midfield. Occasionally found himself in the midfield and was sharp in his distribution, passing well.
• Jules Kounde (6/10): Handled everything coming his way with ease and often pushed the opposition forward. Even attempted a 25-yard shot that sailed over the crossbar.
• Andreas Christensen (6/10): Was always in control in defense, and was given plenty of time on the ball for distribution. Calm and composed.
• Alejandro Balde (6/10): Played several times out of position as a left-back. Had an opportunity in the first half but got tangled up with the crossbar. Perhaps the calmest nights in a Barça shirt.
• Ilkay Gundogan (7/10): Played beautifully with his passing and set up Felix splendidly for the opener. He distributes the ball with precision and is good at recovering the ball.Outstanding midfield performance.
• Frenkie de Jong (8/10): Played a beautiful pass in preparation for Lewandowski’s goal. Dominant in midfield, consistently advancing and making things happen. Substituted by Romelu Lukaku but his impact was deeply felt.
• Gavi (7/10): A late inclusion in midfield due to an injury scare, but it was his only mistake. Scored a fourth for Barcelona with a stunning finish in the top corner.
• Raphinha (8/10): Set up Felix’s goal with a superb pass. Daring in midfield, always advancing and creating opportunities. Replaced by Ferland Torres just over an hour into the game.
• Joao Felix (10/10): Scored the opener with a fine finish at the near post, then outmuscled Lewandowski for the second. Added a fantastic back-post header after Raphinha’s teasing cross. A stellar performance where every touch mattered.
• Robert Lewandowski (6/10): Contributed to Felix’s goal with preparation and scored a second with a simple back-post finish. A strange game, as he was the least effective attacker for Barça, but it didn’t matter.
• Oriol Romeu (6/10): Replaced de Jong and kept Barcelona ticking in midfield.
• Ferland Torres (6/10): Filled in for Raphinha and did nothing wrong, but was not as effective as the player he replaced.
• Lamine Yamal (7/10): Took Felix’s place and scored a great opportunity, although he went too far and collided with the side netting. Lively sub; Barcelona have a player.
What’s next for Barcelona in the Champions League?
Barcelona returns to their La Liga duties on Saturday as they host Celta Vigo at home, while their next Champions League match will be on Wednesday, October 4th, away to Porto. The rematch against Antwerp is scheduled for Wednesday, December 13th, and it will be their last game in the group. Stay tuned for more reactions across the AS USA in the coming hours and days.
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