Barcelona made a dominant start to the new Champions League campaign with a thumping 5-0 victory over Royal Antwerp.
Joao Felix opened the scoring after ten minutes and set up Robert Lewandowski for a second shortly after, before Raphinha’s cross fortuitously ended up in the back of the Antwerp net to make it 3-0 after 20 minutes.
The scoring was resumed early in the second half as Gavi finished off some penalty-box pinball, and Felix headed home a second shortly after the hour mark.
Antwerp threatened occasionally on the counter but Barcelona never looked in danger of losing their clean sheet on what was the perfect night for Xavi’s side.
How the game unfolded
Both teams contributed to a fast start to proceedings, but Barcelona took control as Felix finished off an excellent passing move with a fierce strike ten minutes in.
Felix turned creator moments later as his cross found the boot of Lewandowski, who tapped home at the back post to double Barcelona’s advantage, and Raphinha was off celebrating a goal of his own almost immediately after as his deflected cross soared into the back of the Antwerp net.
The shots weren’t exactly flying in for Barcelona, whose attacking tempo dropped for the remainder of the first half, but they got things back on track nine minutes after the break as Gavi popped up to finish from close range.
Felix headed home Barcelona’s fifth shortly after the hour mark, and Lamine Yamal nearly added a sixth but could only find the side netting from a tight angle after rounding the goalkeeper.
Like the first half, things slowed down after the early flurry of goals. Marc-Andre ter Stegen was needed to stop a rare Antwerp counter but Barcelona comfortably saw out a thoroughly deserved victory.
GK: Marc-Andre ter Stegen – 6/10 – Genuinely may not have touched the ball before a thoroughly impressive double save with 15 minutes to go.
RB: Joao Cancelo – 7/10 – Rarely tested defensively and brought some real flair in attack. A rabona cross was one of several moments which caught the eye.
CB: Jules Kounde – 7/10 – Stuck to Vincent Janssen like glue and didn’t give the prolific striker any space.
CB: Andreas Christensen – 6/10 – Didn’t stand out as much as his partner but that’s hardly unsurprising on such a quiet night. Did his job and that’s it.
LB: Alejandro Balde – 6/10 – Balde’s final ball wasn’t up to scratch here. The left-back got in so many good positions but it always felt like he should have been doing better.
DM: Frenkie de Jong – 7/10 – With defending not a top priority in a game like this, De Jong was regularly flying forward and causing real problems.
CM: Ilkay Gundogan – 7/10 – His elite movement was simply too much for Antwerp to handle. Got the assist for Felix’s opener.
CM: Gavi – 7/10 – A scrappy first-half showing saw Gavi booked for repeated fouling but the youngster calmed himself down and even added a goal before being withdrawn.
RW: Raphinha – 6/10 – Wasn’t particularly involved in Barcelona’s best moments but still proved to be an occasional threat. A nice cross for Felix’s second.
ST: Robert Lewandowski – 7/10 – Took his goal predictably well. Proved to be a reliable outlet for those around him. An experienced showing.
LW: Joao Felix – 9/10 – A thoroughly impressive performance. Dominated proceedings in the first half with a lovely goal and a delightful assist, and headed home a second goal to cap off a glorious outing.
SUB: Oriol Romeu (58′ for De Jong) – 6/10
SUB: Fermin Lopez (58′ for Gavi) – 6/10
SUB: Ferran Torres (68′ for Raphinha) – 6/10
SUB: Lamine Yamal (68′ for Felix) – 7/10
SUB: Sergi Roberto (76′ for Cancelo) – 6/10
Subs not used: Inaki Pena (GK), Ander Astralaga (GK), Marcos Alonso, Inigo Martinez, Marc Casado
Xavi – 8/10 – While his side were always heavy favourites, Xavi will have been delighted with how things played out here. Got the balance of his team right against a side who were focused on defending and managed to rest some of his big names when the job was done.