Match Reviews

Club Atlético River Plate 0-3 FC Barcelona: Match Review

Barcelona had the chance to see out a wonderful 2015 with their fifth trophy of the year, all that stood in their way was the Argentinian side River Plate. The tournament has had a distinct European feel to it of late with seven of the last eight finals being won by the UEFA representatives.

River Plate Barcelona 
Possession 36% 64%
Total Shots 9 16
Shots on Target 5 9
Corners 4 3
Fouls 21 13
Offsides 1 2
Yellow Cards 2 4
Red Cards 0 0

However, River Plate were hoping to put a stop to that whilst also earning Argentina its first trophy since the reformatting of this competition. The size of the task for the South Americans was made that little bit harder when it was announced that both Lionel Messi and Neymar had returned to full fitness and would be starting the match.

The South American side adopted a typically rough start to the game. Players like Messi and Andrés Iniesta were at the centre of some bruising tackles and it looked like referee Alireza Faghani had a job on his hands of all 22 players were going to stay on the field.

River Plate goalkeeper Marcelo Barovero had been one of the star performers of the tournament so far having pulled off a number of saves in the semi-final but he was up against much tougher opposition in Neymar, Messi and Luis Suárez. It took just eleven minutes before he was required to pull off a good save. The ball feel kindly to Messi in the penalty area but his shot was palmed away by Argentine keeper.

The chances began to simmer as Barcelona couldn’t quite make the final killer pass that would open up the River Plate and as the chances decreased, the fouls increased. Jordi Alba and Matías Kranevitter both picked up yellows as the game got a little bit uglier.

To the delight of the Japanese crowd, Neymar began to pull his trademark tricks out of the closet. The skills brought a welcome relief from the dogged affair that had been taking place and from it Barça began to create more chances. A free kick just outside of the area was awarded and Messi stepped up to take it. The effort was curling away from the goal but required the faintest of touches from Barovero to ease it past the post

However, just three minutes later, Barça were in front. Dani Alves bombed down the right flank before chipping the ball to the back post where his compatriot Neymar was waiting. The Brazilian nodded the ball back across goal into the path of Messi. The ball bounced up which allowed Messi to control it with his chest before poking the ball goal-wards with his right foot. It was too close for Barovero to do anything and the ball met the back of the net.

The halftime whistle blew with Barcelona in front and heading towards their third title.

That grip on the trophy was only made stronger after the restart. Iniesta won the ball back in the 49th minute before sliding it to Sergio Busquets. The Barça number five produced a sublime chipped through ball into the path of Suárez. The Uruguayan raced towards goal and with both Messi and Neymar to his side he elected to side foot the ball through the keeper’s legs. Suárez got his first and Barça had their second, leaving River Plate a mountain to climb if they were going to get back in it.

The floodgates had opened and the Barcelona chances were becoming more and more frequent. Suárez had a chance, Messi had a chance, Neymar had a chance, Suárez had another chance but River Plate managed to ride the storm. Largely through the work of their keeper, they managed to restrict it to just 2-0 for now.

The pressure settled and we saw a repeat of the first half period in which the fouls increased and the tempo slowed. However, with an impressive travelling support behind them, River Plate refused to throw in the towel. They continued to press Barcelona while looking to do something in the rare instances when they get the ball.

That mini-revival was quickly dampened though when Suárez got his second of the game. Picking up the ball, Messi rode a few challenges before sliding it to the feet of Neymar. Neymar crossed the ball on a plate for Suárez who headed across the Barovero and into the net. Amazingly, with this goal Suárez moved alongside Messi as the joint scorer in the competition’s history having scored five goals in just two games.

With a three goal cushion, Barcelona saw out the game and the competition having scored a total of six goals and conceded none. Another trophy to add to the ever-growing trophy cabinet.

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