Barcelona (Spain), Oct 25 (IANS) FC Barcelona came through their first test of how the club would fare without star striker Lionel Messi when goals from Rafinha and Jordi Alba gave them a 2-0 win at home against Inter Milan in the Champions League here.
Wednesday night’s game was seen as a test of Barca’s potential and morale, just four days before they entertain Real Madrid in the ‘El Clasico’ on Sunday afternoon, reports Xinhua news agency.
Coach Ernesto Valverde must take much of the credit for the win. The Barca boss had said in his pre-game press conference that no one player could replace Messi and that the whole team would have to take on the responsibility.
Rafinha was the player chosen to replace Messi against the club he spent half of last season on loan against and the Brazilian responded with the opening goal, but while that will have pleased Valverde, the coach will have been just as pleased with the contribution of Arthur in midfield and the efforts of Ivan Rakitic, Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho, who all did what he had asked of them
Although they lacked those moments of magic that only Messi can supply, Barca controlled things from the start with Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet solid in defence.
Jordi Alba also produced a tireless display down the left for Barca and rounded his display off with a goal which not only confirmed the win, but which means Barca have a foot in the last 16 of the tournament after 3 wins from their first three matches.
The only Barca players with reason to be worried as forward Ousmane Dembele and Malcome, who took no part in the game despite Messi’s absence and can expect more of the same at the weekend.
Failure to win on Wednesday could have produced nerves ahead of the ‘El Clasico’ over Messi’s absence. But this win shows that even without Messi in the side, life goes on and Barca can still win.