By 90Min
October 23, 2019

A desperately unfortunate own-goal handed Barcelona an undeserved win over Slavia Prague on Wednesday night, in which the Champions League minnows went toe-to-toe with their Spanish opponents and had Marc-Andre ter Stegen to blame for leaving empty-handed.

Wasting no time at all, Lionel Messi controlled Arthur's pass into the box with a nonchalant first-time finish to give the visitors the lead less than three minutes into the game. 

Thomas Eisenhuth/GettyImages

While it seemed that Barça would push on and dominate proceedings, it was the home side who carved open the best chances in the first half, with only a series of fine Ter Stegen saves preventing them from drawing level.


Could the hosts sustain that pressure? You betcha. Just five minutes into the second half the Czech side found their leveller, and in swashbuckling fashion that epitomised their approach. Lukas Masopust neatly laid the ball into the path of Jan Boril, with the left-back keeping his cool to fire home.

At this point the game was in the balance, but Barcelona edged back in front in the most fortuitous of fashion. Messi lofted a free-kick towards the back post, with Luis Suarez' attempts to knock the ball back into the danger area deflecting off the unlucky Peter Olayinka and into the net.

That proved to be the winner, but Barça will head back to Catalonia fully aware that they weren't deserving of the three points, as Lady Luck and a German 'keeper were their saviours on a difficult night. 


SLAVIA PRAGUE

Thomas Eisenhuth/GettyImages

Player Ratings


Starting XI: Kolar (7); Coufal (8), Kudela (8), Hovorka (7), Boril (8); Sevcik (8), Soucek (9), Masopust (8), Stanciu (7), Zeleny (6); Olayinka (8).


Substitutes: Tecl (8), Van Buren (7) Husbauer (7).


BARCELONA


Key Talking Point


It was far from vintage Barcelona in the Czech capital. Having taken an early lead, many, if not all, inside the Sinobo Stadium fully expected the visitors to dominate the game and open the floodgates. 

Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

Instead, Barça failed to get a stranglehold on the match and the lively, energetic and fearless hosts came at the Spanish side with a purposeful game-plan to overload in wide areas and get the ball in the box.

At this point it would be easy to point the finger at Ernesto Valverde's side, however, credit must be attributed to the home side who valiantly went toe-to-toe with La Blaugrana in a match where they were unanimously unfavoured. Nevertheless, the way in which the current La Liga leaders grew sloppy in possession was worrying, and the hosts deservedly drew level having been in the ascendancy ever since the visitor's opening goal.

The eventual winner was a goal the visitors didn't deserve, but for all their lack of game management, this was a match where Valverde should tilt his hat the way of the Czech side and praise the opposition, rather that than bemoan his side for an under-par showing. That may sound mad, but Slavia Prague were outstanding. Their performance deserved at least a point, so the visitors will see this merely as a stern test they came through unscathed, no matter how close it was.


Player Ratings


Starting XI: Ter Stegen (9*); Semedo (6), Pique (6), Lenglet (5), Alba (6); Arthur (6), Busquets (7), De Jong (6); Messi (7), Suarez (7), Griezmann (5)


Substitutes: Dembele (7), Vidal (6), Rakitic (N/)


Star Man

Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/GettyImages

Its safe to assume that Marc-Andre ter Stegen didn't expect to be involved as much as he was on Wednesday night. But, when he was, he showed the world (and Joachim Low) why is among the best goalkeepers in world football at present.

Faced with countless efforts from the plucky Czech side, he was on hand to provide the brick wall Barcelona so desperately needed after being harassed every time they had the ball by superb hosts.

We're talking about a magnificent goalkeeper here. One who can produce any kind of save, hit any kind of pass and all at alarming consistency.


Looking Ahead

Hosts for the night Slavia Prague face a tricky trip to take on Plzen in the Czech First League, who sit just one place and six points behind them in second position.

Back on top in La Liga, Barcelona have the chance to maintain their lead over Real Madrid on Tuesday as they host mid-table Valladolid.


For more from Ross Kennerley, follow him on Twitter!

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