Football would like to be able to exist in a world removed from the turbulence that hampers our society on a day-to-day basis, and sometimes even manages to do just that, or almost. Barça staged their Champions League tie last night at Camp Nou with the backdrop of the recent arrest of the "Two Jordis" (Jordi Sánchez & Jordi Cuixart). With the ongoing unrest in Catalonia there were efforts from sectors of the fans to turn the game into a homage to the two detained men. Barça vetoed certain banners with a straightforward explanation claiming that these were prohibited by UEFA, anxious to avoid an explicit mix of politics in their stadia and that a Champions League match should be just that ... a Champions League match.
The game started with a banner in the stand calling for dialogue, respect and sport, which I'm sure we'd all suscribe to. From there on a game of football ensued and Barcelona cruised to a relatively straightforward win over Olympiakos although the scoreline barely reflects the massive gulf in class that we saw at Camp Nou between both sides. The dynamic of the match could have changed with the Piqué sending off, after the defender was awarded his second yellow of the night for a handball shortly before the interval. Playing with ten men failed to deter the home side who won out 3-1 on the night with a fine direct from Leo Messi to boot.
Trouble for Atleti
Before the action kicked off at Camp Nou, we saw Atlético in action in Bakú. A game where Simeone's men really needed to claim three points and started out as strong favourites ahead of the Azerbaijani outfit. Things turned out differently as a poor performance and 0-0 draw sees Atleti with just two points from three games ahead of the second leg of games where they welcome both Qarabag and AS Roma to Madrid before visiting Stamford Bridge to play Chelsea where the creditable 3-3 secured by the Giallorossi does little to aid Atleti's plight. There is little margin for error in the Champions League and Simeone's men really need to win all outstanding games to ensure progression or face an nearly exit from the competition.