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Little and large thriving at Barça

Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimović both shone in FC Barcelona's 2-0 defeat of FC Dynamo Kyiv with the former telling uefa.com: "We have the feeling our understanding is improving with every game."

Zlatan Ibrahimović (right) congratulates Lionel Messi on scoring Barcelona's opener
Zlatan Ibrahimović (right) congratulates Lionel Messi on scoring Barcelona's opener ©Getty Images

FC Barcelona's 2-0 victory over a determined FC Dynamo Kyiv will be viewed around Europe as an indication that the holders are in good form and that they are perhaps better bets to become the first club to retain the UEFA Champions League than Josep Guardiola was predicting before Matchday 2.

Top partnership
However, there was another kind of confirmation which emanated from the win which put Barça firmly in control of Group F. Before facing Dynamo, Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimović had 12 competitive goals – including the Argentinian's double in the Spanish Super Cup – and six assists between them this season. Now Messi has added a goal and Ibrahimović an assist to those totals. Beyond the match-winning contributions supplied by the towering Swede and the impish Argentinian was the five-star entertainment, as the two men enjoyed a battle with Dynamo goalkeeper Olexandr Shovkovskiy for man of the match, a contest which uefa.com readers decided Messi won hands down.

Happy Messi
"Yes, I appreciate that award but winning was the most important product of this match because it was hard work and a tough three points to take," Messi told uefa.com. "Dynamo have good players and this evening Shovkovskiy showed he's a really good goalkeeper. I had plenty of chances but he was in good form and proved his qualities despite the fact that we ultimately put two past him. It's a great honour to be playing with these lads in this Barça team because not only are we a good side but for the last year or so we've been enjoying ourselves hugely. That shows in our results and our play."

Early understanding
There were doubters when Josep Guardiola sold Samuel Eto'o to FC Internazionale Milano in part exchange for Ibrahimović but, for the moment, his partnership with Messi seems to have silenced those sceptics. "As far as Zlatan and I go we are only just starting our partnership," added Messi, whose 26th-minute opener was crucial in changing the pattern of the match. "It's the beginning of the season and we are just getting to know each other. We have the feeling that our understanding is improving with every game and we hope that pattern continues."

Big advantage
His striker partner agrees; above all with the part about enjoying himself. "Leo is a fantastic footballer" said Ibrahimović. "I get along with him as a guy and with each game our partnership is getting better and better. I'm enjoying playing with him. Tonight we created a lot of chances, scored two and could eventually have managed three, four or even five. There were some simple mistakes but we sorted them out and knew the goals would flow if we just kept trying." The former Inter man believes that the group advantage they have earned may not be decisive, but is important. "Tonight has been good work in two ways − our three points and Inter's draw in Russia. It's a very big advantage to lead Group F so early."