The match against BATE Borisov was a good test to foresee if the four midfielders option alongside Suárez and Neymar is the best one to visit the Bernabéu if Leo Messi doesn’t recover in time for the Clásico. The high performance showed by Sergi Roberto helps to maintain the usual midfield with the inclusion of the player from Reus in the right band. But Rakitic got injured – in his right leg soleus – and the Catalan returned to his regular position.

FC Barcelona have endured four midfielder injuries in the four Champions League matches played so far: Rafinha, Iniesta, Sergi Roberto and Rakitic. The latter cooled down a good start of the match by the culés, when they cornered a BATE Borisov who played in a 4-4-2 scheme with a halfway defense alternated with some pressure in the opposite field. But the quick ball circulation by Luis Enrique’s men didn’t allow the Belarusian team to counterattack since the culés perfectly understood in which zones they ought to risk.

The two attacking lighthouses by the Blaugranas moved in the left flank. Neymar and Iniesta drew rivals to them with their conductions and gathered markers around them in order to unbalance the opposite side, to the benefit of Sergi Roberto, Alves and Munir, who was subbed in for Rakitic. Only the misfortune while controlling the ball or in the last pass kept Barcelona away from scoring the first goal in a pleasant match.

That first goal came in the 30th minute, after a doubtful foul on Munir which was called a penalty, which Neymar scored easily without the previous run. From that moment on, it was more of the same with scoring chances for Adriano, after a great no-look pass from his countryman, and for Neymar himself. The first half ended with a risky exit move by ter Stegen, almost in the right band line. The German goalkeeper is still faithful to the way he performs in a football pitch despite the goals and the critics received this season, an evident sign of his imposing character which is an essential feature to survive and thrive as a Barça goalie.

The second half left several interesting details besides the goals. Munir’s good movements without the ball, Dani Alves’ position as an interior and specially, Sergio Busquets. The Badia-born – 98 percent in passing accuracy – doesn’t make the lists that acknowledge the best footballers in the world, but he doesn’t need to. He’s always unerring in the build-up plays, clever by speeding up or pausing the game when the team requires it and correctly positioned to regain possession on the opposite field.

Luis Enrique rested Iniesta and Busquets – Bartra and Gumbau came on the pitch – while his two strikers settled the clash for good. First, Neymar led a counterattack from the left wing and assisted Suárez at the right time for the Uruguayan to score the second goal after a guided control that turned into a dribble. BATE Borisov struggled in the defensive transitions since they had taken several steps forward with Hleb in the pitch, and this was exploited by Neymar who was assisted this time by Suárez in the interchange of roles.


Barcelona played an earnest match with patience until the goals arrived and always with a competitive mindset. Despite missing the brilliance of the absent players, the culés’ solvency left them very close to clinch a spot in the knockout stage and with positive feelings to prepare the upcoming home game against Villarreal, a European elite squad although they’re not playing in the Champions League. The only bad news of the night was Rakitic’s injury.

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Article translated from Spanish to English, originally published at the Perarnau Magazine by Ismael Ledesma.