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Barcelona’s Champions League hopes for the 2022-23 season hang by a thread. In what looked set to be a shocking turn of events, Xavi’s side were nearly eliminated from the group stage on Wednesday, blowing a lead at home to Inter Milan, only to rescue a late 3-3 draw to salvage a point and stay alive. While it is certainly better than a loss, the point does very little for the team’s hopes of advancing from the group stage, needing a minor miracle to get through to the knockout stage.
In this one, Barca nearly lost to Inter twice in a week’s span, going down 2-1 after goals from Nicolo Barella and Lautaro Martinez early in the second half after Ousmane Dembele opened the scoring. But it was Robert Lewandowski’s first goal just under 10 minutes from time that saw the teams draw level. Robin Gosens then fired Inter into the lead in the 89th minute before Lewandowski rescued a point in the 92nd minute with a fine-headed goal.
ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI AGAIN. BARCELONA ARE STILL IN THIS 🍿 pic.twitter.com/e3lSiIiUFC
The result means Inter are in second with seven points, five behind leaders Bayern. Barca are in third with four points, needing to earn four more points than Inter the rest of the way to advance.
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Here are three takeaways from the match:
If Barca and Inter finish level on points, Inter advance due to the head-to-head tiebreaker, thanks to having beaten and drawn Barca. If Inter Milan so much as draw Viktoria Plzen in Italy on Matchday 5, Barca will be forced to win out, including having to defeat Bayern Munich. The Italian side are expected to win that match with little trouble, and if they do Barcelona will be eliminated before they kick another ball in the Champions League.
To advance, Barcelona must earn four more points than Inter the rest of the way:
Here’s the Matchday 5 schedule:
Wednesday, Oct. 26
Inter vs. Viktoria Plzen, 12:45 p.m. (Paramount+)
Barcelona vs. Bayern, 3 p.m. (Paramount+)
Barca are in big, big trouble.
Early in the second half, with a 1-0 lead, Barca kept their foot on the gas in an attempt to slam the door shut. Well, it cost them. Playing a bit too advanced and lacking awareness, Barella finished with a fine hit after a sleeping Gerard Pique let the ball go by him intentionally and inexcusably. Take a look:
Pique with the perfect gift for Barella. 😬 pic.twitter.com/nrUD6P1bcO
That’s a great hit, but goodness me, Pique. He thought Marc-Andre ter Stegen was there to scoop it up, but Barella was attentive enough to make them pay.
Then just 13 minutes later, the Barcelona transfer target, Martinez, did this:
As it stands, Barcelona are going OUT of the #UCL 😳 pic.twitter.com/py89j04bBa
A quick one-two punch that turned this game on its head. Credit Barca for battling back, but this is where they lost pretty much all hopes of advancing.
Barca finished the game with 25 shots compared to Inter’s 11, and they also had 62 percent possession. Time and time again they got the ball on the edge of the box but somehow three goals were not enough. We have to remember that this is a Barca team with so many injuries at center back, evident by having to play Pique. With their top three center backs all out injured in Ronald Araujo, Jules Kounde and Andreas Chistensen, it really showed and ultimately made all the difference.
Again! It’s 3-3! He heads home with class! Barca still alive!
On the counter, Inter take the 3-2 lead in the 89th minute!
The striker has done it! He fires a shot on frame that hits a defender and gets by Onana! All square!
A clear offside from the Polish strikers the ball fell to him in front of goal after it hit Dembele. Not even a debate — clear offsides.
Pique with the perfect gift for Barella. 😬 pic.twitter.com/nrUD6P1bcO
A shocking start to the second half! Inter have scored two! This time it’s Lautaro Martinez who rocks a shot off the left post, and it goes across the face of goal to the right post and finds its way in!!! 2-1!!!
It’s 1-1! A fine lofted ball into the box that he settles well and rifles into the top of the goal! Pique was calling defenders off thinking Ter Stegen had it. What in the world?!
Inter need a goal to rescue a point, while Barca are in a decent spot to take all three much-needed points. 45 minutes to go!
Barca deservedly in the lead, but Inter will regret hitting the crossbar via Dzeko. All to play for and a draw would still be a fantastic result for the visitors. Changes needed though.
A great team move finished by Dembele. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/xbBmmTPTIM
Raphinha does well down the right to play Sergi Roberto vertically, and he picks out Dembele in the box!
Skriniar and Lewandowski are getting into it, and the ref has had to try and settle this game down. Barca are not liking the physicality and imploring the official to consistently call it.
Dzeko is free on a set piece as Calhanoglu finds the striker, but his effort his off the crossbar!
Xavi’s men are going for it early, pushing numbers high as Raphinha takes a curling shot that Onana tips over fora corner. The counter is there for Inter…
The match has begun! Barca are wearing their traditional colors, while Inter are in white.
It feels unlikely that Inter can replicate the same kind of performance away at the Camp Nou. Barcelona need to win this match if they want to have any shot of going through to the knockout stage. — Francesco Porzio
Despite the final result, he was one of the best players in the match at San Siro. Inter Milan won’t count on Marcelo Brozovic, who is still injured. His absence creates more space for Pedri. — Francesco Porzio
All eyes are on the Polish striker after a disappointing loss last week at San Siro that has now without a goal in two consecutive Champions League games. You have to go back to 2020 since the last time Lewandowski was blanked in back-to-back group stage games. He has not gone three UCL games in a row without a goal since 2018. Barcelona need to score because Xavi’s side desperately needs to win the match against Inter Milan. — Francesco Porzio
Barca: Ter Stegen; Alonso, Eric Garcia, Pique, Sergi Roberto; Busquets, Pedri, Gavi; Dembele, Lewandowski, Raphinha
Inter: Onana; Skriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni; Dumbries, Barella, Calhanoglu, Mkhitaryan, Dimarco; Lautaro, Dzeko
Romelu Lukaku is still sidelined, which means the Nerazzurri will continue to use Lautaro Martinez as a central striker. Much like Inter, Barcelona are also bit by the injury bug with multiple players out. Martinez’s duel with Pique could be the difference maker in this match as the experienced center back will drive the Blaugrana defense. — Francesco Porzio
(All times U.S./Eastern)
Romelu Lukaku is still out with his muscle problems that he suffered at the end of August, while Marcelo Brozovic also remains out injured. Joaquin Correa is nursing a patella issue and has missed three games.
Ronald Araujo remains out till the end of the year with his adductor injury which will see him miss the World Cup with Uruguay, while Jules Kounde could be back for El Clasico on Sunday. Fellow center back Andreas Christensen sprained his ankle against Inter Milan and it’s uncertain when he will return. Memphis Depay and Hector Bellerin have both missed four matches due to injury, while new signing Franck Kessie could return this week from his adductor injury which is expected to see him miss out on this game but potentially return to face Real Madrid.
Welcome to the CBS Sports live blog of the UEFA Champions League! I’m Roger Gonzalez, and I’ll be providing updates from today’s huge clash from the Camp Nou where FC Barcelona welcome Inter Milan! Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. ET.
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