Sporting 0-1 Barcelona: a Cagey European Night in Lisbon Sees Barca Go Top of Group D

Barcelona prevailed on a night where neither team could find their feet going forward. Despite their dominance in possession, Barcelona, nor Lisbon, could really get a hold of the game in what turned out to be a tight, cagey Champions League tie in the Portuguese capital.

?Both teams entered the game holding impressive defensive records this season, with the home side conceding just one goal at the Jose Alvalade, and Barcelona having only conceded two goals all season.

This seemed to foreshadow the first half as neither side could break down each other’s defensive line. Although Barcelona had the majority of possession, even Lionel Messi failed to break through an impressive first half display from former Barca player Jeremy Mathieu and Sebastian Coates in the centre of defense. The most clear cut chance came when Coates’ former Liverpool teamate and fellow countryman Luis Suarez broke through after being slipped in by Messi, only to see his shot saved by Rui Patricio. 


Sporting’s summer signing from Sampdoria, Bruno Fernandes, had the home side’s best chance of the half when he cut inside onto his right foot and forced Marc-Andre Ter Stegen to dive low to stop the ball from flying in at the near post. Lionel Messi started to show flashes of resplendence, and had a chance late on before the half time whistle, but it was superbly blocked by Fabio Coentrao, who so happens to be on loan from Barca’s fierce rivals Real Madrid.

However, the second half began very differently, with Barca taking the lead shortly after the break. After Nelson Semedo was unnecessarily fouled on the edge of the box, Lionel Messi had the opportunity to float a ball into the Sporting box. This, rather fortunately, fell to Luis Suarez who’s misdirected header ricocheted off Sebastian Coates and trickled into the back of Rui Patricio’s net. A scrappy goal, but Barcelona were happy to get themselves in front after a cagey first half.

After a bright start to the second half, it turned out to be much the same as the first, with tight, cagey football characterising the game. Neither side looked threatening, with the most clear cut chance of the game for Sporting falling to Bruno Fernandes, who should’ve scored after a wonderful set up by Bas Dost, but instead smashed his shot straight at the oncoming Ter Stegen. Barca’s man in form Paulinho went clean through late on, but failed to find a way past Patricio, who produced a solid display despite conceding the unfortunate own goal.

Sporting’s frustration was apparent throughout the game, with the referee showing six yellow cards to the home side. With both teams coming into this game with sturdy defensive records, it was always likely to be a circumspect match of football. Sporting did well to keep Barcelona at bay considering they have scored 23 goals in 7 games this season, but ultimately it was the 4-time European champions who prevailed on a night where neither team looked threatening enough to produce a high scoring game.

Juventus beat Olympiakos 3-0 in the other game in group D, which means Sporting remain second on goal difference despite losing on the night