The second matchday of the 2023-24 UEFA Champions League saw Barcelona make the trip to Portugal. They faced Porto, one of the country’s historic sides at the esteemed Estadio do Dragao and were part of an enthralling 90 minutes of action.
The Portuguese outfit put pressure to no end on the Catalans and were in fact the better team for long periods. In the end, however, Ferran Torres’ late goal in the first half gave the visitors all three points.
The win sees Xavi Hernandez’s side become sole leaders in Group H with six points in two games. Yet, the win did not come without a price, for Barcelona lost Robert Lewandowski to an injury and Gavi to a red card on the night.
Barça Universal brings you three talking points from Porto 0-1 Barcelona.
Three lucky points
Nine out of ten times, Barcelona would rightfully lose with the performance they dished out on Wednesday night. Fate had it end 1-0 in the favour of the Blaugranas, but they were the side under pressure throughout the game.
Porto did little wrong at Estadio de Dragao. They came out with the right game plan, a suitable formation and created repeated threats revolving around a constant theme.
For starters, the Portuguese outfit constantly targetted Oriol Romeu, who was the weak link in Barcelona’s buildup. Constantly at his doorstep, they did not give the Spaniard any respite with their high press.
After recovering the ball from the visitors’ grasp, they lashed out on quick counters to catch Barcelona’s defence off guard. They were particularly incisive down their left flank and capitalised on Joao Cancelo’s seemingly poor display.
Sergio Conceicão’s men took a whopping 13 shots including five on target last night. Their only shortcoming was their inability to finish chances in front of goal.
Clouded in controversy
Barcelona may have gotten away with three points on Wednesday night, but it was only possible through a combination of luck and officiating decisions going their way.
Porto will feel hard done by the result, not only because they put up a good fight but also because of the two VAR incidents during the game.
The first controversy-shrouded incident arrived in the 20th minute when Porto orchestrated a good attack down the left wing. Pepe attempted to find Mehdi Teremi in the box when the latter went down under Jules Kounde’s challenge.
The on-field decision did not hold Kounde culpable, but VAR took a closer look into the matter. The review, however, stayed in Barcelona’s favour and denied the hosts a spot-kick.
The bigger, and perhaps more controversial incident, came late in the second half.
A perfect long ball over the top spelt trouble for Barcelona as Porto’s Eustaquio brought the ball down to have a go on goal. The ball, however, struck Joao Cancelo’s arm in an unnatural position and a penalty appeared inevitable.
Just as the Portuguese giants looked close to their equalising goal, however, VAR intervened.
The slow-motion replay brought to light that the ball struck the Porto player’s arm before Cancelo’s, thus leading to the penalty being rescinded. Controversy arose because the ball did not exactly strike Eustaquio’s arm but was closer to his chest.
The German wall in Portugal
Porto undoubtedly had the better attacking display against the Catalans. Their inability to score was partially down to their poor finishing, but a large part of the credit goes to Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
The German shot-stopper was on song at Estadio do Dragao, making a stunning five saves over the 90 minutes.
Of the five, three came from shots inside the box. Moreover, the German made 1 clearance, a high claim and a punch on the night.
Ter Stegen has not enjoyed the best of times in the UEFA Champions League in recent seasons. Despite being La Liga’s beat goalkeeper last season, his performance in Europe was bang average.
For the German to come up clutch on the big stage is thus big news for Xavi Hernandez. Such a performance will go a long way in rebuilding the confidence of one of the most decisive players for the Azulgranas ahead of a long European campaign.