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Marcador del partit

  • Date: Tuesday, 12 Sep
  • Competition: ???label.competicio1???
  • Stadium: Camp Nou, Barcelona


  • FC Barcelona: 5
  • Levski S.: 0

Match report

Match Report

The goals

1-0, Iniesta (min. 6)
2-0, Giuly (min. 39)
3-0, Puyol (min. 49)
4-0, Eto'o (min. 57)
5-0, Ronaldinho (min. 90)

Perfect start to Champions League campaign (5-0)

FC Barcelona have got off to the perfect start in their Champions League defence by hitting five past tournament debutants Levski Sofia. Played under torrential rain, the win was also the perfect way to unveil the new Unicef logo on the famous Barça shirts.

It was always going to be a historic night, with Barça donning the Unicef logo on their shirts for the first time ever, and Levski Sofia becoming the first Bulgarian club to compete in the group stages of Europe's premier competition.

Perfect start for Iniesta

And with several Bulgarian internationals in their ranks, Barça knew their visitors were a side that deserved plenty of respect, but it took just seven minutes for Iniesta to break the deadlock. It was textbook stuff, with Ronaldinho deftly laying the ball from the by-line towards Eto'o, who made it look easy as he flicked it on to Iniesta to strike a low, hard drive into the back of the net.

The first goal ripped the confidence out of Levski, and within minutes a Belletti cross almost found it way into the goal, but Levski keeper Petkov tipped the ball over the bar. Seconds later, Ronaldinho provided Gio with a chance that went narrowly wide of the far post. Barça were in total command, with the only danger perhaps being their own over-confidence, the early goal having lulled them into a false sense of security.

Because Levski, who certainly didn't seem in the least bit overawed by the occasion, managed to find a few timid chances of their own. These included a dangerous warning call from Angelov on 16 minutes, and a dangerous team move that was criticised by the home fans as it took place while Gio was on the ground hurt.

Here comes the rain

As the half grew older, the pace of the game eased off, especially when torrential rain started pouring down onto the Camp Nou pitch, which held up remarkably well under the circumstances. But if the floodgates had opened in the skies, they were soon to do so on the pitch as well, with Giuly perfectly controlling an Eto'o pass in the 38th minute to cleverly turn to create a gaping hole in the Bulgarian defence and send the ball home brilliantly. Barça had a two-goal cushion to take into the break, and despite their strong physical presence, we had seen little to suggest that Stoilov's side was going to be capable of turning the game around in the second half.

Puyol settles it

The second 45 minutes got off to as perfect a start as the first. Just three minutes after the break and Ronaldinho sent a curling free kick low towards Petkov's near post. The visiting keeper did well to get down to meet the shot, but inexpertly allowed it to deflect across the face of goal for Carles Puyol to tap home the easiest goal of his life. Barcelona were 3-0 up, and it was as good as game over.

After 57 minutes, with the players, fans and coaching staff alike drenched under the persistent downfall, and thunder and lightning overhead, Barça made it four. This time it was Samuel Eto'o with a tremendous solo effort. On his own and surrounded by defenders, the Cameroonian juggled the ball left and right to confuse his rivals and find the right spot to perfectly slot the ball past a hapless Petkov.

Puyol battles on

The most worrying moment of the night came with an unnecessarily reckless challenge by Ivanov on Carles Puyol. The Barça captain was in pain, but insisted he was able to stay on, and indeed, when Rijkaard finally started shuffling his pack, it was a much applauded Giuly who was replaced by Gudjohnson, while Xavi replaced Iniesta and Oleguer did likewise for Thuram.

With the three points decided, there was nothing left for Barcelona to prove, and Levski, meanwhile, seemed to have opted to renounce the attack and merely defend in numbers to keep the score as respectable as they could. The final minutes ticked by with Eto'o and Gudjohnsen working especially hard to find further goalscoring opportunities, but failing to find the space to do so.

Brazilian genius

But there was still time for one more piece of Barça magic. Already deep into injury time, Ronaldinho collected the ball on the left edge of the Levski area and placed an absolute peach of a curler into the far top corner. It was an unstoppable finish and the mark of a genius. Barcelona were amazing in last season's Champions League campaign, but on the strengths of tonight's performance, there could be plenty more unforgettable evenings in the 2006-07 tournament too.


A game for the history books

Apart from the purely sporting side of things, this game also goes down in history as the first one in which Barça will wear the UNICEF logo on their shirts. A special commemorative event will be held in honour of this shortly before the game kicks off.

The journey to Athens starts here

Last year's objective was Paris, and this year it is Athens. But there is a lot to get past on the road to the Champions League Final, and it all starts tonight against Levski Sofia at the Camp Nou.

Last year's Champions League winners, FC Barcelona, begin their defence this evening (20:45, Antena 3) against the least known of the four teams in the group, Levski Sofia. But as we have seen so many times in the past, you can never underestimate the more modest outfits in the Champions League, who are often able to get results that far outweigh expectations when playing on the biggest European stage of all.

The champion: FC Barcelona need to put Paris behind them and start showing that they are still the best team in Europe. Against Levski, Rijkaard has called on Juliano Belletti , who scored the cup-winning goal last season. The Brazilian was left out of the squad that played Osasuna, while Gio, who played every European fixture last season, also gets a recall. But these, along with the absence of Márquez, are the only changes to the team that put on a splendid attacking display in last Saturday's league game with Osasuna.

Levski: Since the draw, the match-up everybody is talking about is Barça and Chelsea, but one of the biggest keys to ensuring passage to the knockout phase is taking six points off Levski. The Bulgarians won 8-0 in their last League match, but the result does not give too much away, as they were playing Marek's youth team. There is huge excitement in Bulgaria, as this is the first time any club from that country has made it into the group stages of the competition. And as well as that motivation, Levski also has a plethora of international players in the team, including the veteran Borimirov, who spent so many years wearing the national jersey alongside the legendary Hristo Stoichkov.

History: 31 years ago, in 75-76, Barça and Levski met in the UEFA Cup. Barça didn't have too much trouble getting through the round, winning 4-0 at the Camp Nou and then losing in a Sofia goal-fest, 5-4. Johan Neeskens , now on the FC Barcelona coaching staff, played in those games.  

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