Barcelona: A fledging Barcelona side showed what the reigning Champions League winners have in reserve as they swept aside BATE Borisov 4-0 in a relaxed atmosphere at the Camp Nou.
An away win against AC Milan at the San Siro two weeks ago had assured the Catalans of first place in Group H and with the first Clasico in La Liga coming up this weekend against Real Madrid -- who Barca trail by three-points having played a game more -- coach Pep Guardiola chose to blood his youngsters and rest his star players for the challenge at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Although Viktoria Plzen drew 2-2 at home to AC Milan anyway, BATE were outclassed and never appeared capable of winning a game that potentially could have seen them finish third and qualify for a place in the Europa League.
Barca broke the deadlock ten minutes before half time through Sergi Roberto, and Martin Montoya made it two after the restart with Pedro Rodriguez adding a brace to seal an easy win.
They may have been different faces but there was no doubting it was the Barcelona style from a side which included just six players from the first team.
Of the starting eleven, nine had been brought through the youth system and it was evident from their passing and domination of the ball.
Bottom of the group BATE were up against it from the off, with Rafinha Alcantara finishing off a move with a shot from a tight angle which was parried by goalkeeper Aleksandr Gutor for a corner.
Barca had complete control of the ball in the middle of the pitch as BATE set their stall out to defend deeply and hope that their dangerous Brazilian Renan Bressan could conjure up something on the counter-attack.
Rafinha saw a speculative header go well wide and then Isaac Cuenca drove a shot just past the post, while Bressan had the visitors’ first shot on goal but it was a woeful effort from distance that went well off target.
Barcelona were closing in on the BATE goal though with Sergi Roberto sliding a cross narrowly wide and then finally after 35 minutes they made the breakthrough with Sergi Roberto again firing a right-footed shot into the corner from the edge of the area.
After the break the hosts continued to probe the BATE defence and Montoya, surging forward from right-back, latched onto a Cuenca pass to finish clinically for his first senior goal on the hour mark .
While for BATE it was a case of damage limitation, Barca’s youngsters were keen for more and Pedro cheekily flicked in a Cuenca cross.
Then in the final minutes it was Cuenca who was upended for Pedro to score his second of the night from the penalty spot.