Barça gets up against Porto and gets into the round of 16, three years later

Classification, respite and victory.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
28 November 2023 Tuesday 03:21
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Barça gets up against Porto and gets into the round of 16, three years later

Classification, respite and victory. Barça will be in the round of 16 of the Champions League after two seasons being left out in the group stage. The club needed it, the team needed it and the coach needed it. Between fears and tremors, the Barcelona team, which is also close to first place, staged a worthy comeback to beat a dangerous Porto. With the enormous genius of Cancelo, the Barcelona team created what was a horror movie and achieved an essential victory for their confidence. A whole ball of oxygen that came with the goals of Cancelo and João Felix and that was also certified by the saves of an excellent Iñaki Peña, who continued to fill in for the injured Ter Stegen.

In a dizzying match, due to its importance and the emotional and football situation of Barça, Xavi opted to change almost half the team with respect to the Vallecas match. Heavyweights like Koundé, Araújo and Gündogan returned while Raphinha and João Félix accompanied the everlasting Lewandowski up front. Although perhaps the most significant modification by the coach was to send Cancelo to the left, to the detriment of Balde. Meanwhile, Araújo served as right back and Koundé was central. The technician shook the puzzle again to see if any of the pieces fit together.

However, despite this shock, Barça entered the scene like a flan, with a sea of ​​doubts every time they had to come from behind and with uncoordinated movements between all their lines. Not to mention a pressure that was pure butter. Porto quickly smelled blood, emboldened by its 2,500 fans who made themselves heard very well, and began to prowl Iñaki Peña's area, which would prove essential.

It was sensed that the blow could come at any moment. Because Gündogan moved through the game like a shadow. Because the match was going one way and Lewandowski, unassisted and slow in his reflexes, was going the other. Because Koundé did not respond to Xavi's trust. Because Pedri did not come into play and when he did he did not seem like that dazzling boy. Only some attempts, albeit troubled, by Raphinha and some runs by Cancelo raised hopes in the saddened Montjuïc stands.

Until what seemed inevitable arrived, Porto's goal. Iñaki Peña avoided it on a shot from Galeno. The VAR annulled it after a goal by Taremi, who was offside. But in the end he fell. In an action that showed Barça's defensive disarray, Galeno shot and Peña aborted the shot, but the rebound was caught by Pepê to score with a cross shot. De Jong fell asleep and was in the photograph.

The anxiety ran through the Olímpic, due to the 0-1 and the fear transmitted by their team, which was behind for the fourth game in a row. That looked very bad, but, in the midst of the chaos, the figure of Cancelo emerged. Pedri, who delayed his position on Xavi's orders, judiciously opened to the left and the Portuguese did not think twice. He faced, cut back and shot with his right foot. A great goal and above all a monumental relief for Barça and its people. Cancelo, by far the best Blaugrana, celebrated with relief.

With that adrenaline rush, the Blaugrana team was close to taking the lead in this phase. If he didn't do it, it was because João Félix sent Raphinha's good cross into the clouds. The Brazilian's opportunity was even clearer, as he finished wide, with everything in his favour, after a poor delivery from the Porto goalkeeper.

The match was a coin toss and Iñaki Peña came to the rescue again with a providential hand after a shot from Varela.

The game moved from area to area but the time in the locker room improved Barça. Only João Félix's cross hit the crossbar and Porto's response was to step into Iñaki Peña's area with intention. Anything could happen and what happened was that Barça scored the second after a magnificent connection between Cancelo and João Félix, who finally found the net after more than two months of drought. The playmaker touched the Blaugrana shield to celebrate, just before Atlético's visit.

The 2-1 score gave great confidence to the Barcelona fans who, suddenly, began to play the ball like an orchestra and not like a band. Now each player found their partner naturally. De Jong took the lead, Pedri supported him and even Gündogan participated. He continued to be out of tune with Lewandowski, who was not giving a right. The Pole was crying out for a change but Xavi replaced João Félix to turn to Ferran Torres, who forgave the sentence. The Valencian shot high with Lewandowski alone and desperate to his left. Nor could Raphinha extend the score, who connected with a spectacular bicycle kick that Diogo Costa aborted. Luckily for their interests, Barça did not have to regret those missed opportunities or the cramps of Cancelo, who had to be relieved. Barcelona will be in the round of 16 draw. To see if it is a turning point, we will have to wait.