Roma came to the Camp Nou hoping to look strong and maybe steal a point against Barcelona. That didn't so much happen, because Barcelona absolutely humbled the Italians to the tune of a 6-1 thrashing, securing the top spot in their Champions League group in the process.
It became clear very early on that Barcelona were the dominant side in this match, racing forward with abandon and rattling Roma almost right off the bat. The Spaniards had Roma's back line unsettled quickly and scattering all over the place to try to stop every run coming at them, but Barcelona's attacking numbers and quick ball movement left Roma's defense helpless to stop them.
The Italians did actually have one excellent scoring chance early, but Edin Dzeko missed his chance and pushed a shot wide when it may have been easier to score, having caught Marc Andre Ter Stegen wrong-footed. They were pushing up well when they managed to get the ball, and it seemed like maybe they'd have a chance to get a goal or two.
Then Barcelona's scoring got started.
First, Roma got carved open by Neymar, Luis Suarez, and Dani Alves, with Alves getting well behind Roma's back line with ease before crossing to an unmarked Suarez. Then it was a gorgeously fluid passing sequence between Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Suarez that lead to a cheeky chip from Messi that found the back of the net. Then it was a wonderful volley off a rebound from Suarez that curled into the net with ease.
And that was just in the first half.
Roma tried changing shape and approach repeatedly in the second half to try to find any way back in, but Barcelona didn't stop scoring. Goals from Messi, Gerard Pique, and Adriano finished Barcelona's domination, and not even a late penalty could help Roma at all, with Dzeko's shot getting saved by Ter Stegen. Dzeko did finally score, with a header that was literally the last touch of the match, but by then it was hardly even a consolation goal.
That was the kind of dominant attacking display that we've come to expect from Barcelona, but haven't always gotten this season because of injuries and a short depth chart. Now they've guaranteed that they'll finish the group stage with the top spot in Group E, giving them freedom to rest players ahead of their last group match against Bayer Leverkusen in what will be a hectic time in Barca's schedule. For their part, Roma will be left searching for answers, while also knowing that they have to beat BATE Borisov just to have a chance to advance now.
But first, Roma should really fix their defense.
Barcelona: Marc Andre Ter Stegen; Dani Alves, Gerard Pique (Marc Bartra 57'), Thomas Vermaelen, Jordi Alba; Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets (Segi Samper 46'), Sergi Roberto (Adriano 64'); Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar
Goals: Suarez (15', 44'), Messi (18', 59'), Pique (56'), Adriano (76')
Roma: Wojciech Szczesny; Maicon, Kostas Manolas, Antonio Rüdiger, Lucas Digne; Seydou Keita, Radja Nainggolan (Juan Iturbe 46'), Miralem Pjanic (Salih Ucan 75'); Alessandro Florenzi (William Vainqueur 58'), Edin Dzeko, Iago Falque
Goals: Dzeko (90'+1)
3 things we didn't really learn
1. Barcelona's attacking trio is unfair
We haven't gotten to see Messi, Neymar, and Suarez do their thing together much this season thanks to injuries, but they were all together on Tuesday and good lord was that some good stuff. They had Roma's back line in tatters almost from the first whistle because of their jaw-dropping interplay, and they sent Roma's midfield spinning around in circles for the second goal. If all three can finally stay healthy this season, Europe should be on notice.
2. Roma aren't this bad, but they're still a work in progress
You could be forgiven if you thought Roma were APOEL or some other similar minnow in this match, Barcelona outplayed them so thoroughly. They're not, though, and they're actually quite a bit better than they played in this match -- but just how good they are is still very much in question. Roma have had moments both great and awful in abundance this season as they adapt to a pretty heavy retooling from the summer. This was definitely a low point, but they can bounce back -- the question now is just how far along Roma are as a developed team, because this match made it look like they're a long ways away from where they want to be.
3. Maybe Roma should work on their defense, though
Look. Messi, Neymar, and Suarez are all really good. We know this. But Roma's back line made things too easy for Barcelona, proving too eager to get out of position and let another attacker slip in behind them. They need to be more disciplined and more aware of what's going on around them, or nightmarish days like this could become more common.