The Champions League kicked into gear but Koeman chose to leave out Griezmann. As suspected, the boss is not someone who takes a joke lightly, and he responded to the Frenchman’s message by putting him in the middle against Getafe, where he went on to miss a great scoring opportunity. In his place came Trincão, who lit up on the wing with some bursting runs. The other news came in the form of Pjanic for Busquets and Dest replacing the injured Jordi Alba. I’m not sure why but he gives me the impression that this is the team he has in mind, because to get Pjanic in, it’s going to be less troublesome taking Busquets out (or, at least, managing him) than his compatriot, De Jong. In saying this, I can’t see him dare take this huge step for El Clásico.
Three goals and a costly red
Barça started off rather flat, having to deal with a few scares from the quality of the forward, Nguen, a small lad blessed with plenty speed and talent. Then Messi brought the team to life with his own burst, one that resulted in a penalty and a goal. With that the whole team were awake, and at times they shone with neat attacking interplay, one creating the chance for Ansu Fati to score, before he in turn made one for Coutinho. Already 3-0, a Piqué error led to him seeing red after another break from Nguen, which showed him up. Apart from costing them the goal, from the resultant penalty, he will also be sorely missed in Turin, which is a bad blow given how rigid Barça are at the back, with Umtiti definitely less than reliable.
Madrid and Atlético next up
When it came to substitutions being made, Griezmann didn't feature, but Dembélé and Pedri did, and they both scored too. So it finished 5-1 to Barça, and some positive feelings restored. Meanwhile, Sevilla battled hard at Stamford Bridge, from where they returned with a draw that could well have been a victory. With their tough start to the group stage, Sevilla confirmed their European pomp. That 0-0 and the lovely 5-1 from Barça, against the black sheep of their group, have lifted the mood with which we face this year’s Champions League. Now it is Madrid's turn, without Sergio, but against a very weak Shakhtar, and Atlético, who are waiting for the PCRs of Bayern. We would be pleased with a repeat of yesterday's results.