Barcelona made substantial summer purchases as a wager on their future, but after a 3-3 draw with Inter, the Catalans now seem headed for the Europa League. Robert Lewandowski was instrumental in the scenic 3-3 draw between Barcelona and Inter at Camp Nou, but the hosts’ chances of moving on to the Champions League knockout stages are now at risk.
After last week’s disputed 1-0 loss at San Siro, it was up to Xavi’s squad to win at home. Lewandowski and Pedri both came agonizingly close to scoring for the opposition, but Ousmane Dembele gave Barcelona the advantage just before halftime by converting Sergi Roberto’s low cross.
After the break, however, Lautaro Martinez made it 2-1 with a shot that hit both posts before going past Marc-Andre ter Stegen after Nicolo Barella capitalized on a lapse of concentration by Gerard Pique’s defense. That is, until Lewandowski tied it at 2-2 with a shot that was deflected, igniting an exciting climax.
With one minute left in regulation, Inter took back the lead thanks to substituting Robin Gosens, eliminating Barca. Lewandowski, though, equalized the score once more in stoppage time, this time with a beautiful header, keeping Barcelona in with a mathematical chance of winning the group.
The Performing Side:
Simone Inzaghi: Going into this vital doubleheader with Barca, Inter’s coach’s job was under criticism following their disastrous start to the Serie A season. Nevertheless, Inzaghi went Camp Nou and put on a genuinely good tactical display after witnessing his side ride their luck at San Siro.
Even though Inzaghi’s anger was evident when the former Lazio manager was dismissed in the closing seconds of the game, Inter ultimately came out on top. With a win over Viktoria Plzen at home the following time out and a point, the Nerazzurri will advance to the knockout round, which would be a tremendous accomplishment for Inzaghi.
Lautaro Martinez: Romelu Lukaku not there? No problem. Lautaro enjoys significant events. He demonstrated in the second half just how deadly a forward he is when playing at his most rabid. The Argentine capitalized on defensive mistakes, showed good anticipation, and was rewarded for his efforts with a spectacular goal that went in off both posts.
Martinez’s life hasn’t always been easy during the past few years. His performances have been erratic even this season. But his ability to lead the line in such a big game highlighted his class.
Robert Lewandowski: Barcelona has managed to stay afloat in the Champions League thanks to a late brace from Lewandowski, who scored his 90th and 91st goals in the process. He was just unable to escape Inter’s defensive line and was devoid of any meaningful assistance.
Lewandowski, however, came through as Barca attacked more directly as the game opened up, keeping their extremely, really low prospects of making it to the round of 16, alive.
The Losing Side:
Marcos Alonso: You’d be excused for not noting that Alonso was replaced late in the game, just as you’d be excused for forgetting he was even there. The Spaniard has mostly failed to deliver and flattered to deceive at his new club since leaving Chelsea in the summer. This was demonstrated against Inter, who put up a lackluster offensive or defensive effort.
Barcelona’s full-backs were so high up that Inter frequently broke in wide areas, but Alonso was never able to make recovery runs, sit in the ideal spots, or even meaningfully contribute moving forward to make up for defensive shortcomings.
Gerard Pique: Due to an injury, Pique was forced back into the starting XI, but he didn’t do particularly well. The 35-year-old wasn’t frequently called upon because Barcelona had such a strong possession advantage. But even though all he had to do was stay focused, he lost it minutes into the second half. Due to his loss of focus, Inter was able to equalize thanks to Nicolo Barella being played onside.
Pique is a great Barca icon, but time does not wait for anyone and once you lose your edge, it rarely returns.
Joan Laporta: They have already spent every dollar they could possibly have. They have pulled every economic trigger they could think of. Even Lewandowski’s brilliant late performance couldn’t undo the host team’s disastrous defensive play, which cost them a crucial three points.
Barcelona may be dominating La Liga, but the Champions League is where the real money is to be found, and the financially challenged Catalans stand to lose millions if they make yet another early exit. After this summer’s buying binge, Barca would suffer a sporting and financial catastrophe if they failed to advance to the knockout stages. Laporta’s enormous bet appears to have failed.
The Defensive Side:
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: Barella’s goal was unavoidable, and he made several crucial stops throughout the game to limit Inter to three goals. Indeed, he stopped Kristian Asllani in the final seconds to keep Barca in the game.
Sergi Roberto: Such a significant presence that evening. Together, they made a strong connection, moving inside to the half area and launching crosses while the Brazilian extended the play. The pass was the ideal weight for his assist.
Gerard Pique: Pique was charged with using his experience to guide the ship from the back and keep things tight because he was not trusted with the responsibility of bringing out possession. He made a clear blunder by failing to do it. seemed incredibly out of step.
Eric Garcia: Pedri’s foot in the box nearly missed his low, and whipped a cross in the first half, denying him an assist. However, when Inter stepped it up a notch, he absolutely capitulated, so that was about as good as it got.
Marcos Alonso: Alonso offered Dumfries an unsettling amount of space to invade. decent but not nearly as effective or self-assured as Roberto.
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