Barcelona's Champions League aspirations will now be heading into the quarterfinals. Spartak Moscow will not be able to say the same, however, after the Russian side was easily handled by Barca, 3-0, in a game that showed the true gulf in talent between the two sides.
Dani Alves opened the scoring after a Lionel Messi pass attempt deflected to him, and he smashed a half-volley home. With multiple Spartak Moscow defenders keying on Messi, Alves found himself with a clear shooting lane from just outside the box and took advantage.
Messi would get his own in the 27th minute. After an Andres Iniesta shot was stopped, Messi quickly took a rip at the bouncing rebound and managed to carom an odd shot into the net. It certainly wasn't his prettiest effort, but Barca was glad to have it.
The world's best player wasn't done. After a brilliant through ball by Pedro put Messi behind the defense, he calmly deked the keeper and tapped in his second goal of the match and fifth in five Champions League matches this year.
You can talk about how much more effective he is surrounded by his Barca teammates, but take nothing away from the sublime movement and poised finishing of Messi.
And so Barcelona went into the half with a 3-0 lead, looking quite comfortable indeed.
And that would be all of the scoring in this one, as the second half was a rather sleepy affair with a few promising runs from either side but nothing much beyond that. You would hardly have known that Spartak Moscow was playing for its Champions League lives.
Then again, Barca was at its best early in this game and basically put things out of reach. Group G was always there for the taking, and save a shocking loss to Celtic, the Catalans haven't disappointed with four wins in five games.
Lionel Messi, Barcelona: A+
What can be said about Messi that hasn't already been noted? His movement was superb. He constantly attracted the attention of Spartak's defense, opening space for Barca's other players. When presented an opening, he brilliantly finished two goals.
The Entire Spartak Moscow Team: Incomplete
I give them an incomplete because they never really showed up. They were dominated in possession, outclassed in every aspect of the game and badly botched the few openings at goal or shooting opportunities they managed to take.
Yes, Barcelona will make a lot of teams look poor, but this was a lackluster effort by the Moscow side. In a game it needed to at least tie to have a chance at remaining in the Champions League, Spartak look resigned to its fate of being eliminated.
A disappointing effort, to say the least.
Pedro, Barcelona: A
Few players were more threatening than Pedro in this match. He had several shots and a header denied. He set up Messi's second goal with a fantastic pass through the Spartak back line. He flowed from out wide to a more central position with ease, finding the spaces to do damage.
Only Messi shined more brightly. On a team of stars, that's saying quite a bit.
Andres Iniesta, Barcelona: A-
Iniesta wasn't as obviously brilliant as the above two players for Barca, but he had moments of quiet genius throughout the match that are absolutely stunning if you watch him carefully.
Check this out.
It was hard to pinpoint individual players in this game, since Barcelona played so well and Spartak was so very, very poor. But the above moment absolutely took my breath away, and Iniesta was threatening throughout.
It's ridiculous the talent this Barca side has. Absolutely ridiculous.
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