The vibes remain immaculate for Barcelona as the Blaugrana put on a second spectacule of attacking football at the Montjuïc Olympic Stadium in a span of four days, thoroughly dominating Belgian champions Royal Antwerp and winning 5-0 in Tuesday night’s Champions League group stage opener. Barça once again played a brilliant team game, scored some excellent goals and made a statement of intent as they began a new European journey in dominant fashion.
This could have been one of those games where the superior team takes the weaker side for granted and finds themselves in a world of trouble. This was not the case in the first half: Barça were at it from the get go, pressing high up the pitch to win the ball back quickly and then moving it with purpose to find spaces and create chances.
After five solid minutes where they tried to show some attacking intent, Antwerp were quickly pinned back and foreced to defend for their lives but had no chance against the Blaugrana machine. Barça were sharp and efficient, and pretty much wrapped up the win before we even hit the halfway mark of the opening period.
Barça scored three goals in 10 minutes, starting in the 11th minute when a beautiful passing sequence through the middle ended with a gorgeous assist by Ilkay Gündogan and a great goal from João Félix, who scored for the second game in a row with an excellent finish to pick out the bottom corner.
Eight minutes later it was time for Félix to turn provider after receiving an outrageous through ball from Frenkie de Jong and picking out a perfect cross to find Robert Lewandowski all alone at the far post to volley home the second. The third goal had a bit of luck after yet another great passing sequence and a cross by Raphinha that hit Antwerp defender Jelle Bataille and went in off the post.
Barça made the game so easy for them that it was natural to see their levels drop to close out the half, but they never allowed Antwerp to grow in confidence and the Belgians never truly threatened the Catalans.
At halftime the win was virtually assured and Barça were playing well, and the only thing left to know was if the home team had enough hunger to chase more goals in the second half.
Barça came out with a renewed purpose and energy to start the second half, hungry to continue attacking and score more goals. It was good to see, and it paid dividends as the Blaugrana increased the margin and gave the Montjuïc crowd even more reasons to celebrate.
The fourth goal came 10 minutes into the half after yet another beautiful passing combination inside the box, and after a couple of blocked shots the ball fell to Gavi who fired a rocket into the roof of the net from close range. Then it was time for João Félix to double his tally on the night, heading home a gorgeous cross from Raphinha at the far post to make it five for the home team with 25 minutes to go.
Xavi Hernández made all five substitutions to rest a few players and give youngsters like Fermín López and Lamine Yamal a chance to play extended minutes in Europe for the first time, and both were hungry and dynamic and helped Barça continue creating chances untl the very end of the game.
Unfortunately there were no more goals scored so Barça had to settle for just a second straight 5-0 destruction at home when the final whistle came. This was the perfect way to start a new European journey by thoroughly dominating the worst team in the group and playing great football to continue the good form. This team is really fun to watch right now, and it’s so great to just enjoy watching Barça again. There will be tougher games soon, but the team is looking good and ready for them.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Cancelo (Roberto 76’), Kounde, Christensen, Balde; Gündogan, De Jong (Romeu 58’), Gavi (Fermín 58’); Raphinha (Yamal 68’), Lewandowski, Félix (Ferran 68’)
Goals: João Félix (11’, 66’), Lewandowski (19’), Bataille (OG 22’), Gavi (54’)
Antwerp: Butez; Bataille (Kerk 73’), Alderweireld, Coulibaly, Wijndal; Vermereen, Keita, Ekkelenkamp (Yusuf 60’); Muja (Valencia 83’), Janssen (Ilenikhena 60’), Balikwisha (De Laet 60’)