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After three years, Barcelona returns to the round of 16

Alex Gutierrez Paez

Barcelona, Spain, Nov 28 (EFE). – Thousands of Portuguese fans, with chants and flares in Plaza España, on Tuesday anticipated a bitter night for Barcelona, for whom only a victory was enough to confirm their place in the Champions League’s round of 16.

The Catalans still remember the fateful elimination in the Europa League against Eintracht Frankfurt, which was unusual not only because the Catalan team started as favorites, but also because of the presence of so many German fans at the Camp Nou.

However, unlike in recent games, Barça started with enthusiasm, warning with an early shot from Raphael Dias ‘Raphinha’ and trying to play more simply, something Xavi Hernández had been asking for in recent games.

Pepê’s goal on the half-hour mark did little to dampen the joy of the home fans, although Xavi Hernandez’s team responded quickly through Joao Cancelo, who was virtually on the left wing and scored the equalizer after a great individual play.

Joy returned to the Montjuïc, interrupted only by the whistling of Pepe, who was reunited with the fans of his eternal enemy during his ten seasons as a Real Madrid player.

From the equalizer, Barça dominated the duel and changed its face in the first moments of the second half, which once again activated the fans, unaccustomed to such an offensive Barça after the bad feelings of team’s last appearances.

In the 57th minute, the combination between the Joaos ended with the third goal of the season by Félix, who had not scored in a Barça shirt for two months, since he did so against Antwerp.

The Catalan club’s last appearance in the round of 16 of the Champions League was in the 2020-2021 season, when they were eliminated by PSG in the same stage of the competition.

Since then, the Blaugranas have been eliminated in the group stage in the following two seasons and have been relegated to the Europa League, a trophy they have not been able to add to their collection after being eliminated in the quarterfinals and round of 16, respectively.

This passage to the next round of the Champions League is not only a sporting and economic stimulus – they will earn 9.6 million euros for their classification – but also a boost to their self-esteem in the face of the next league games against Atletico de Madrid and Girona at home, this time with their fans motivated. EFE

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