Fc Barcelona seemed to be a club in crisis after the departure of Neymar Jr. People started to ask questions about the successor of the Brazilian player. It all turned into a bad dream for the Catalans as Real Madrid won the Spanish Supercup after two clear wins against Messi&Co, 3-1 at Camp Nou and 2-0 at the Bernabeu. But Alejandro Valverde managed to calm the locker room and to motivate his boys to start the season with the right momentum. If in La Liga the opponents were clubs like Girona, Eibar, Alaves or Getafe, Barca had to face the real deal in Champions League in a group with Juventus and Sporting Lisbon.

But after six matches in the Spanish League and two European clashes, the record is perfect: 8 wins, 24 goals scored and only two conceded.

Lisbon wall

FC Barcelona started their European campaign with a convincing 3-0 win against Juventus in a rematch of the quarter-final clash from last season. But the second game against Sporting Lisbon was definitely not seen as a walk in the park. The Portuguese side managed by Jorge Jesus has improved massively in the last two years and is a top contestant for the title in Primeira Liga.

With superstars like Gelson, Mathieu, Acuna, Coentrao, Bas Dost or Doumbia, Messi and Suarez knew they need a top class showdown to go back home with three points.

With the record-signing Ousmane Dembele sidelined because of a hamstring injury, Iniesta had to provide help to the serial killers Messi and Suarez.

The Warrington Guardian pointed ut that Suarez was the most dangerous man for the Spanish side, as his speed and capacity of controlling the ball in the defending third of Rui Patricio generated danger and chances. Add a through ball from Messi that reached Jordi Alba, who found Suarez in a promising position but the striker missed a golden chance for 1-0.

He was followed up by Messi who dribbled inside the box to be denied by Rui Patricio while Pique was unlucky after a free kick directed to his header. Jeremy Mathieu acted as the leader of the defence as the French player had to prove Barca wrong after failing to become a key player on Camp Nou.

Deflection for glory

And as we know, big teams usually score out of luck. It happened to Barcelona, as a deflected ball from Coates after the header of Luis Suarez meant 1-0 for the Catalans after 50 minutes. Mathieu remained the King of Defence as he denied Suarez the chance to kill the game, while Bruno Fernandes missed a huge chance to equalize after beautiful team play from Sporting. Ter Stegen was the hero for Barca, while Paulinho was the zero.

The Brazilian midfielder was left all alone with Patricio but his shot proved why Neymar is worth more than 200 million euros whereas his price is not even a quarter. 1-0 for Barcelona, three vital points and baby steps in the road to knockout stages.