Barcelona entered the game low on confidence, with two draws in as many games in La Liga. Tottenham, on the other hand, was suffering from an injury spree, with nearly four of their top stars missing the home fixture. Ernesto Valverde meant business, as he lined up Philippe Coutinho alongside Luis Suarez and Leo Messi.
The decision paid off in the 1st minute of the encounter when a Messi through ball opened up the Tottenham defense. Barcelona’s left-back Jordi Alba poked the ball to an unmarked Coutinho outside the box, who had to place the ball bottom corner. 1-0 and Barcelona were up and running in the encounter at Wembley.
Tottenham fought and fought hard to pull the Barcelona attack back, but were unsuccessful to control Messi on the night. Messi pulled another attack out of his pocket as he put Coutinho through on goal, and Coutinho’s shot rebounded to the Brazilian. Coutinho’s rebound pass created the best goal on the night.
Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic half-volleyed the ball from outside the box. The thunderous efforts from the Croatian rattled the posts and stung the home fans as Barcelona led 2-0 on the night going into half-time.
😍 Ivan Rakitic may have genuinely already won the Puskas award for this season
T E K K E R S!
— The Sportsman (@TheSportsman) October 3, 2018
The second half was much better for the home side, as they came back strongly with a goal from their skipper Harry Kane. Kane’s presence in the game was threatening from the minute go and he turned Semedo before he curled a whistler past Pique and Ter Stegen.
At 2-1, the game was evenly poised before Messi decided to take over the proceedings. An outrageous dummy from Suarez meant that the ball reached the feet of Messi, who rolled the ball past Lloris. 3-1 and the game was turning on its head for Barcelona.
However, there was another Argentine on the pitch who helped the home side make a comeback. Erik Lamela scored from outside the box, deflected off Lenglet to make it 3-2 on the night. The man of the match, and the man who controlled the match, Messi scored the fourth goal for Barcelona late in the match to end the proceedings.
Top takeaways from the game:
1) Tottenham’s chaotic defense coupled with Hugo Lloris
It was a given fact that Tottenham started without their key defender Jan Vertonghen for the fixture against Barcelona. However, the defense in absence of the veteran were shaky as they allowed loads of space for Philippe Coutinho to attack in the first half. It was worsened by the fact that Lloris was out of position several times in the match, and also gave the ball away very cheaply.
If Tottenham have to go through the group of death, they have to play much better at the back. Lloris continued period of sloppy play has cost Tottenham in the past and has to change if they don’t want it to cost in the future.
2) One man to stop- Lionel Messi
For Tottenham, the game plan was simple- Stop Leo Messi. However, as easy as it sounds, it is much more intense and complicated. The Argentine attacker took the game and weaved his brilliance as the home fans were drawn to his magic. Messi drew defenders towards him before shuffling past them to provide the delivery into the box.
If someone is taking notes on how to play football, they have to watch Leo Messi against Tottenham, and if you are a defender it is your worse nightmare. Messi not only scored, he provided, he danced around the pitch and was sublime in all departments.
3) Arthur’s future looks settled at Barcelona
Doubts were raised on whether the Brazilian midfielder Arthur would replace the likes of Xavi and Iniesta in the middle of the park. Not only did Arthur control the tempo of the game, but the first looks of his play looked reminiscent of Xavi’s time at the club.
If Arthur continues to play in a similar fashion, it is only days before the Brazilian becomes a starter for the club. His vision and his control over the tempo of the game was next to one certain Leo Messi.
4) Lenglet’s timely block
French defender Clement Lenglet has had his fair share of criticism thus far in the campaign for Barcelona. However, with the absence of fellow French defender Samuel Umtiti, Valverde had to start Lenglet alongside Pique. While Pique was shaky at times, Lenglet did not lose the plot as he came up with a good game for Barcelona.
Late in the second half, with the scoreline being 2-3 to the home side, it was Lenglet who saved Barcelona from a Tottenham comeback. The French defender put himself in front of the line to save Barcelona before Messi added the fourth goal.