FC Barcelona 5:1 Panathinaikos (14 Sep 2010) – Barça opened the Champions League season against their obviously mismatched Greek opponents. Panathinaikos looked like they could only touch the ball long enough to clear in the first 20 minutes, but then Gouvou surprisingly opened the scoring on a fast break. That would be it for Panathinaikos as Lionel Messi quickly equalized, David Villa put Barça ahead, and then Messi added another goal for a 3-1 halftime lead. Messi had a chance for a hat trick in the second half from the penalty spot but a very weak kick was easily blocked. Daniel Alves and Pedro Rodriguez added goals to run up the score in this laugher wher Barça had possession for 76% of the match. Match report.
Feyenoord Rotterdam 1:2 AFC Ajax (19 Sep 2010) – The Klassieker is the Dutch derby between the top Dutch football clubs and the major cities of the Netherlands. This match-up is sadly marred by fighting in the stands and rioting in the streets. And it’s not just the supporters as the on-field fisticuffs in the second half of this game can attest. Ajax scored late in the first half and early in the second half, and despite the contentious of the match and a late Feyenoord goal the game was pretty much in Ajax’s hands all the way through. Match report.
Atlético Madrid 1:2 FC Barcelona (19 Sep 2010) – Apparently Barcelona has had bad luck on away games against Atlético Madrid in recent years and with Atlético off to a strong start, Barça were at risk of losing back-to-back league games. In the end Barça won the game but lost Lionel Messi. Leo scored the first goal for Barcelona and Pique put them ahead for good, their goals sandwiching a goal by Atlético’s Raul Garcia, all within the first 32 minutes of play. Barcelona dominated play for most of the game and things turned physical toward the end of the match leading to the hard foul in stoppage time that injured Messi’s ankle. Still, I liked Atlético’s fighting underdog spirit, and it was good to see one of my favorite players from the World Cup – Diego Forlan – even though he was not a key player in the game . Match report.
I’ve noted before that Barcelona includes 8 players from the World Cup champions and Lionel Messi (not to mention a couple of Brazilians). The concentration of talent on one roster has made it fashionable to hate Barcelona as discussed in this interesting Run of Play article by Eric Freeman.