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As expected, Spanish giants Barcelona cruised to a predictable, if somewhat unimpressive, win over Viktoria Plzen, recording a 2-0 score line over the Czech side, and strengthening their position in the battle with AC Milan for top spot in the group. The breakthrough came early for Barcelona, and was the result of excellent play from Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi.
The little maestro played a delicate ball into the box and to the feet of the waiting Andres Iniesta, who then calmly placed the ball into the bottom right hand corner of the net, to the delight of the home crowd.
Despite enjoying near total domination over the visitors, Barca were unable to add their solitary goal in the first half, however the performances of players such as Messi, Iniesta and David Villa indicated that it was surely just a matter of time before they added to their lead after the interval.
Whilst Barca were enjoying a pass success rate of 93% and a total of 14 shots to Plzen’s 0, halfway through the second half, they were still unable to extend their lead over the visitors. Despite no change to the score line, home and visiting fans alike were treated to a show of exquisite football from Messi, with the player exhibiting his full range of tricks, nutmegs, and deft touches.
If Messi’s triumphant display wasn’t enough for Barca fans, Villa soon gave them something to cheer about with his side’s second goal of the game. Messi collected a neat through ball from Villa, and when tackled by the Plzen centre-back, the ball bobbled loose to the onrushing Villa who calmly stroked the ball into the bottom corner of the goal.
The home side came close to adding a third when Pedro broke into the box and instead of attempting a shot himself, passed the ball onto Villa, but the attacker did not have the pace to get to the ball in time, and the attack fizzled out.
Whilst many will be disappointed to not have seen Barcelona score more than their two goals tonight, the game was never in doubt, and Pep Guardiola will be happy enough with his team’s overall performance, if not with their ability to finish off chances.
The win does however keep them level with AC Milan at the top of the group, and sets up a match against the Italian side which will most likely decide the winner of the group.