UEFA Champions League 2019/19: 3 reasons why Barcelona beat PSV Eindhoven
Despite failing to put up a typical stellar show, FC Barcelona grabbed all the three points on Wednesday night in Eindhoven. However, all that mattered was topping the group as Barca are through to the round of 16 for a straight thirteenth season.
Coming off from a gloomy draw over Athletico Madrid in the weekend and a pack-full of injury woes, the Blaugranas were still the favourites. Nevertheless, PSV Eindhoven were never on the backfoot since the start. The visitor’s apparent hangover from a sluggish weekend display made them sit back for several occasions in the first half.
The home side had their chances, which could not find the back of the net but could only work wood-ways twice. It would be justifiable to say that the Ter Stegen’s sticks played as an extra defender to deny Gaston Pereiro and De Jong. The woodworks were a loud wake-up alarm to Barcelona players for which they responded pretty well.
Having moved to a central role after playing in the right flank for a few seasons now, Messi looked a bit off rhythm in the beginning of the match. Along with him, other persistent performers in Busquets and Rakitic were also not their brilliant best. It was quite uncharacteristic of the midfielders to see them caught up a couple of times. For luck sake, the duo were not punished, either by the opponents in the form of a goal or by the referee with a card.
Contrastingly, the second half saw Barcelona bouncing off to their dominant ways. The team’s veterans stepped up with more discipline and in particular, the captain started looking more dangerous with a couple of shots on target.
On the mark of 61st minute, the genius found the back of the net with a masterpiece and eight minutes later went on make on for Gerrard Pique to increase the lead. Trying hard to put on a comeback, the Dutch side could only lessen the lead.
The series of Injuries have made this victory more interesting as several pivotal players like Luis Suarez, Sergio Roberto, Arthur Melo and Rafina were injured before the match. Although Sam Umtiti and Coutinho have returned from their injury, the long injuries of Sergi Roberto and Rafina must have forced the manager to choose a reserved team.
So let us look at 3 reasons why and how Barca managed to win.
#1. Squad Selection
In spite of having some serious injury concerns, the squad selection and fielding 11 were a near perfection from Valverde. It has to be pointed that Sam Umtiti was not fielded just because he has come back from the fitness. The decision has made sure that Lenglet’s fine form is allowed to continue and the left footed French defender was not starting from an injury away from home.
To stick to his favourite pick with Vidal as replacement to Arthur has to be lauded for it would act as an appreciation for the chilean’s strong performance at the weekend draw. And to go for a three top with an irregular winger pick in Malcom instead of opting to play four mid-fielders is some guts.
It was equally refreshing to see the bench adorned with young players and underused Denis Suarez. A comfortable first half lead could have given the manager a license to use them all.