As they continue to trudge ahead without star Lionel Messi, Barcelona have found success tapping one player per match to take over for the Argentine’s role as primary scorer. In their 5-2 trouncing of Rayo Vallecano over the weekend, it was forward Neymar and his four goals.
In Tuesday’s Champions League Group E match against Belarus side BATE, it was midfielder Ivan Rakitic’s turn to lead the Catalans to a 2-0 victory.
Coming on for injured midfielder Sergio Roberto in the 18th minute, the Croatian’s brace counted as his first goals of the season for Barcelona across all competitions and padded their lead over Bayer Leverkusen for first in the group. It was also Rakitic's first multi-goal game since joining the Catalans last season.
Barcelona's defense also turned in a spectactular performance, holding BATE to four total shots and just one on target, while maintaining a 73-27 possession advantage.
Rakitic would find the back of the net in the 48th and 64th minutes, with Neymar aiding each goal for his second and third assists in a Catalans kit this term.
The Brazilian would first streak past BATE’s midfield and defense along the left wing before cutting inside to sail a low through-ball to Rakitic at the top of the box. Rakitic would slot his right-footed shot inches away from BATE keeper Sergey Chernik, who was pelted with 20 Catalans shots and came up with four saves in the loss.
Eighteen minutes later Neymar would exploit BATE’s weakness on the left wing again, this time finding Rakitic all alone on the right inside corner of the box for a chip shot over Chernik.
Barcelona next head back to domestic play with Sunday’s La Liga match with Eibar.