Barcelona 3-1 Borussia Dortmund: 5 Things we learned from the game | Champions League 2019-20
Barcelona booked their place in this season's Champions League knockout stages following a 3-1 home win over Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund. Goals from Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann was enough for Barca to prevail against an underwhelming BVB display - Jadon Sancho came off the bench, scoring a well-taken consolation late on.
It was another Messi masterclass as the masterful Argentine inspired Barca to an important victory in their Group F clash against Dortmund on Wednesday night. He combined well with attacking teammates to create two assists, while netting his second UCL goal in 19-20 too - having previously struggled with persistent injuries this term.
It was his perfectly-weighted pass which teed up Suarez through on-goal just before the half-hour mark, minutes after Griezmann replaced compatriot Ousmane Dembele who limped off with a thigh injury on a forgettable evening for the former Dortmund winger.
Suarez returned the favour three minutes later after Frenkie de Jong was alert to capitalise on Mats Hummels' mistake in possession. Five seconds later, Messi wheeled away to celebrate after a give-and-go with the Uruguayan saw him evade the BVB backline before slamming into the bottom corner.
Before going two goals behind, fullback Nico Schulz came close on two separate occasions as Dortmund threatened in stages. However, manager Lucien Favre opted to replace the 26-year-old with Jadon Sancho as the second-half got underway, searching for more creative impetus as they looked to reduce the deficit.
Julian Brandt forced an important stop from point-blank range by compatriot Marc-Andre ter Stegen, as Dortmund - powered by Sancho's introduction - were starting to get more involved with intricate build-up around the final third. Nonetheless, Barca were ruthless in transition and made them pay for another costly error in possession. Messi turned creator once more, this time setting up Griezmann with a first-time finish through on-goal.
Without warning, Sancho reduced arrears with a brilliant strike from range before forcing Ter Stegen into a fantastic save ten minutes later - tipping the English teenager's effort onto the crossbar as Jadon did his utmost to drag Dortmund back into the contest. It proved futile as Barca and Ter Stegen held firm, booking their place in the last-16 with a game to spare. Without further ado, here's a look at five talking points from Barcelona's third successive victory in all competitions:
#5 Under pressure, is Lucien Favre's Dortmund stint coming to an end?
Lucien Favre's decision to drop Jadon Sancho to the substitutes' bench backfired significantly, as Dortmund were ultimately at the hands of a convincing defeat.
The only reason why the scoreline wasn't more one-sided, was through Sancho himself. Upon his introduction to start the second half, the 19-year-old English forward linked up well with Marco Reus and Julian Brandt while emerging as one of very few players capable of turning the two-goal deficit around.
Ongoing tensions between Sancho, Favre and Dortmund have been well-documented in recent weeks - though his replacement Nico Schulz wasn't best placed to excel so high up the pitch. A fullback by trade, he started at left-wing and failed to convert two good opportunities, which proved key as Barca made them pay soon enough.
Had Jadon started, this might have been a completely different story. Dortmund are now winless in three matches across all competitions, while level on points with Serie A side Inter on seven points after five group games - meaning they've got work to do ahead of matchday six on December 10 if they want to progress into the knockout stages.
The 62-year-old Swiss boasts a 60% win percentage since his arrival last summer, but they've already lost four games (all comps) and drawn six this term. His man-management of players including Mario Gotze, Dan-Axel Zagadou and Sancho has been questionable, while frustrating displays like these don't help ease the pressure on a man under scrutiny.
The situation is made more worrying when you look back to mid-June this year, where Dortmund extended his existing deal until the summer of 2021. Unless they can improve and quickly, Favre won't last that long.