After a lightning start to the game as Barça took up from where they left off at the Bernabeu, a nasty looking injury to Valdes stunned the Camp Nou and although Messi and Neymar ensured the win, the keeper’s injury cast a pall over the celebrations. Luis Enrique made his return to the Camp Nou with a five-man defence that included Fontas as a deep lying midfielder and with an untypical tactic of ceding possession, which allowed Barça to lay siege to the Celta area and reap the benefits within the first five minutes, as a clever move between Iniesta, Messi and Alexis ended with a simple tap in for Neymar. With Iniesta finding plenty of space through the middle to release Messi, Barça were playing elegant and incisive football which created chances for both Neymar and Messi. All the optimism took a blow on 20 minutes however, when Valdes fell awkwardly saving a free kick and immediately called for help in obvious pain, before being stretchered off. The Barça players looked shocked for a while and the rhythm dropped, before Iniesta and Messi brought a smile back to the fans’ faces on the half hour with an inch perfect move that the Argentinean finished off by rounding the keeper to double the lead. Iniesta was replaced by Sergi Roberto as a precaution at half time and with the rain coming down and the players clearly affected by the injury to Valdes, Celta took the chance to step forward after the break and Pinto was called on to make a superb double save on 52 minutes to keep the Galicians out. Cesc was unlucky to have a goal ruled out for offside just before the hour mark, but it was the visitors who looked the more likely to score, until on 67 minutes, Neymar broke down the left into the box and fired through the defenders’ legs to beat the keeper and make it three. Soon after, the Brazilian was replaced by Pedro. There was still time for drama though, as Pinto clattered into a post after a good stop from Bermejo. The crowd held their breath, but the keeper got up and went on to make two more good stops on a night that brought another win, but one tinged wth sadness for Valdes’ injury.
Barça only needed a point to clinch top place in their Champions League group, but did much more than against a Celtic side that was only playing for pride but was instead played off the park by an intense, ambitious display from the Catalans. After going into an early 1-0 lead and with the win already as good as settled by half-time, Barça were able to play for the crowd and regain some lost confidence, with hat-trick hero Neymar on stunning form. It was two minutes before Celtic had even touched the ball at the Camp Nou. Barça were passing it around with ease, and were soon creating problem after problem for Forster to deal with. And that was how things would stay for most of the ninety minutes, as has been the case so often in the past against the Scottish champions, who as usual opted for a highly defensive game-plan. But this time, Barça broke the deadlock early doors. After just six minutes, an opportunist Piqué pounced on the rebound after Alexis had found himself one-on-one on the keeper. 1-0. Barça had all the possession, and even though they were losing, Celtic preferred to keep it tight at the back and speculate with the occasional counter-attack or dead-ball situation. All this served to do was create a Barça onslaught on their area, although the home side were lacking the speed and definition to turn their dominance into further goals. Busquets was outstanding, Sergi Roberto and Xavi were feeding balls from all angles, and Alexis, Neymar and Pedro were all getting involved with spectacular bicycle kicks and all the works. The worrying thing, however, is that it wasn’t until the 39th minute that they finally found the net a second time, with Neymar starting the move and Pedro finishing it off. Moments later came the play of the match. Some wonderful first touch football among the midfielders ended with the ball reaching Alexis, who subtly chipped it through to Montoya. The defender could have shot himself, but instead laid on a perfect assist for Neymar. There had only really been one team on the pitch in a first half that ended 3-0. Neymar’s first ever goal in the Champions league was just the boost he needed. In the second half, he scored another peach of a goal on the back of yet another terrific combination move. For the rest of the game, Barça restrained themselves from showboating too much, knowing that this has cost them dearly in the past and that one of the most important aspects that they need to improve is holding onto leads. But there was little chance of tonight’s lead slipping away. On a freezing evening, the Camp Nou was soon chanting the name of Neymar as he went on to complete his first hat-trick in a Barça shirt. It was yet another move initiated by a flash of genius from a defender, followed by a delightful one-two to make it 5-0. A rare Barça attempt at a long ball, by Mascherano, almost led to Neymar getting his fourth of the night, but Pedro was caught offside and the move was invalidated.Tello marked his return to the team by grabbing the sixth and final goal of the night with a shot that rebounded off a defender and left Forster with no chance. But it was thanks to the Celtic keeper that Neymar failed to add any more goals to his account. As the game drew to a close, we finally started seeing a bit more life in Celtic, with Samaras heading home a consolation goal and coming close to adding a couple more. But by this stage, Barça’s biggest heroes of the night, Busquets and Neymar, were already resting on the bench. The Camp Nou gave both the ovation they deserved and was able to celebrate qualification for the last sixteen as group leaders. The Champions League returns in February, and on Monday, Barça will be finding what team they’ll be playing.
Serata movimentata al Camp Nou, i parigini non arrivano con intenzioni amichevoli e al passaggio del corteo dei gruppi organizzati la tensione sale alle stelle. Non si verificano contatti ma si lanci di oggetti tra la due fazioni, con i Mossos d’Esquadra che cercano di riportare la calma senza fronteggiare i contendenti. La partita non offre grandi spunti, il PSG ci prova ma la sensazione é di trovarsi davanti a grandi campioni che non sono peró un collettivo. Dall’altra parte risaltano tutti i limiti del Barcelona senza Messi, infatti Leo parte dalla panchina a causa dell’infortunio riportato nella gara di andata. I francesi sono pericolosi in diverse occasioni, il Barça a parte la punizione di Iniesta al primo minuto di gioco non crea pericoli. Nella ripresa, pronti via e marca Pastore….quindi entra in campo Messi e ridá alla squadra quella luciditá che permette di pareggiare (Pedro al minuto 70) e chiudere il conto senza non pochi pericoli soprattutto nel finale. Il Barça approda alle semifinali e domani saprá il nome dell’avversario, tra i tedeschi del Bayern e del Borussia Dortmund o gli eterni rivali del Real.
Ieri sera mentre mezzo congelato stavo raggiungendo il metro a Les Corts, pensavo a quanto dovesse piacermi questo gioco e l’ambiente stadio per sopportare tutto quello che sopporto per 90 minuti di calcio. Ieri é stata la giornata piú fredda e come non bastasse un gelido vento del Nord entrava nel Camp Nou girando tra gli anelli rendendo l’atmosfera glaciale. Meno male che il Barça non delude mai e quando arrivano squadre che giocano e lasciano giocare, come é il caso del Bilbao, lo spettacolo é assicurato. Chi viene a giocare al Camp Nou sa che difficilmente uscirá con punti, peró apprezzo di piú una squadra che viene a giocare a viso aperto, rischiando di prenderne 5 come ieri sera, a chi viene a giocare in 11 dietro la linea del pallone rendendo la partita molto piú noiosa e non ottenendo niente di diverso da una sconfitta…troppa é la potenza d’attacco degli azulgrana. Ieri sera grazie agli spazi ho visto giocate che solo puoi vedere con la playstation, ho visto movimenti impressionanti e ho apprezzato due giocatori diversi dai soliti noti. Sugli scudi sicuramente Cesc Fabregas e un incredibile Pedro…il canario ha fatto una partita assolutamente perfetta, con grinta e determinazione impressionanti. Il Bilbao é stato bene in campo e non so fino a che punto sia stato intelligente da parte del tecnico lasciare in panchina Toquero e Llorente che quando sono entrati in campo hanno dato un peso diverso all’offensiva basca. La Liga continua anche se visto l’abisso che c’é tra i catalani e gli inseguitori direi che é giá sentenziata il primo di dicembre.