Still alive. But for how much longer? Barcelona got the win they needed, the second of a tough week, but the performance against the Ukrainian visitors left a lot to be desired.
Barcelona came into this clash desperately needing a win after two 3-0 defeats by Bayern Munich and Benfica in their opening fixtures. And yet, with the Clasico looming, Ansu Fati was on the bench. He cannot start three games in a week so soon after injury.
Luuk de Jong was handed a starting spot alongside Memphis Depay and right-back Sergino Dest, once again thrown into the attacking line.
The American had Barcelona’s two best chances in the first half, at least until Gerard Pique broke the deadlock in the 36th minute.
Jordi Alba’s cross was headed over by Dest early on and then the auxiliary winger slammed the ball straight at goalkeeper Bushchan.
Barcelona fans, again half filling the stadium, were growing frustrated and Luuk de Jong drew whistles for missing a couple of chances.
He was off at halftime for Ansu, while Philippe Coutinho also entered the fray. They made an instant change to Barcelona’s tempo.
Ansu nearly scored a brilliant goal, juggling the ball up before attempting an over-head flick to score, although perhaps team-mates were better placed. That taste for the spectacular, though, will stand him in good stead here.
Despite his early burst, the second half proved just as dull as the first, although by the final 15 minutes with nerves thrown in too, because the score was so tight.
Barcelona held on for the victory and got off the mark in Europe. But things don’t bode well for the Clasico on Sunday.