Tuesday, September 19, 2023 at 11:15 PM• Jordi Tomasowa

Barcelona started the group stage of the Champions League with a resounding victory over Mark van Bommel’s Royal Antwerp. Thanks to João Félix (2x), Robert Lewandowski Jelle Bataille (own goal) and Gavi, a convincing 5-0 win was achieved. In the same group, FC Porto was too strong for Shakhtar Donetsk 1-3.

Barcelona – Royal Antwerp 5-0
Xavi chose to only change his starting eleven in two positions compared to the 5-0 win over Real Betis. Ilkay Gündogan came into the team for Oriol Romeu and formed a midfield with Frenkie de Jong and Gavi, while Raphinha was preferred as right winger to Ferran Torres. At Antwerp, Gyrano Kerk had to settle for a place on the bench. Owen Wijndal, Jurgen Ekkelenkamp and Vincent Janssen, on the other hand, started in the starting line-up.

The Catalans managed to break the spell after ten minutes. João Félix was released after a flashy attack and then scored in the short corner: 1-0. The margin was doubled in the eighteenth minute by Robert Lewandowski, who scored after a textbook attack. De Jong sent João Félix into the depth with a delicate through ball. Lewandowski then tapped in the ball after a tailor-made cross from the Portuguese: 2-0. A few minutes later the 3-0 was also a fact, although goalkeeper Jean Butez was not to blame this time because Raphinha’s cross ended up via Bataille’s shoulder and into his own goal.

Barça managed to further extend the score after the break. Gavi received the ball at his feet after a scrimmage and then drove the ball impeccably into the top corner: 4-0. Xavi’s team refused to slow down. This time it was Raphinha with a measured cross to João Félix, who headed home at the far post: 5-0.

Shakhtar Donetsk – FC Porto 1-3
The home team, led by Dutch coach Patrick van Leeuwen, was already behind within ten minutes. Galeno showed himself most alert by finishing from close range from the rebound: 0-1. However, Shakhtar soon came alongside again through Kevin Kelsy, who headed Yukhym Konoplya’s cross against the ropes: 1-1. The visitors took a big lead within half an hour. Galeno first punished the Ukrainians’ sloppy loss of ball in front of their own sixteen-metre area, after which Mehdi Taremi was able to shoot in the 1-3 goal: 1-3.