The Women’s Champions League holders began the new-look 2021/22 competition with a statement victory over Arsenal.
This year’s tournament features a 16-team group stage for the first time, with the Gunners and Barcelona paired in Group C along with debutants Hoffenheim and HB Koge.
Tuesday night’s match was a contest between two of European football’s most in-form teams, with reigning Primera Liga champions Barca having scored 35 goals in five straight wins so far this term and Arsenal having triumphed in their first nine matches across all competitions under new manager Jonas Eidevall.
But it was mostly one-way traffic at the Johan Cruyff Stadium, with goals from Mariona Caldentey and Uefa Women’s Player of the Year Alexia Putellas giving the dominant hosts a healthy half-time lead.
Asisat Oshoala made it three shortly after the interval, though Arsenal did improve and hit back through Frida Maanum.
However, substitute Lieke Martens restored Barca’s three-goal advantage before Putellas saw a stoppage-time penalty saved by Manuela Zinsberger.
Follow Barcelona vs Arsenal reaction with Standard Sport’s LIVE blog below!
Barcelona vs Arsenal highlights
Zinsberger saves last-gasp Putellas penalty
GOAL! Substitute Martens lofts in Barca’s fourth
GOAL! Heath free-kick bounces in off Maanum
GOAL! Oshoala strikes early in second half
GOAL! Putellas doubles lead just before half-time
GOAL! Caldentey breaks Gunners’ resistance
21:54 , George Flood
Barcelona 4-1 Arsenal
21:54 , George Flood
94 mins: Penalty to Barcelona!
Nobbs - who now has the Arsenal armband - slides in on Putellas and referee Adamkova has no hesitation as she points to the spot.
Putellas steps up... and it’s saved by Zinsberger!
21:50 , George Flood
90 mins: Three minutes of added time signalled at the Johan Cruyff Stadium.
Panos gingerly gets back to her feet.
21:50 , George Flood
89 mins: Parris is furious after being penalised for a foul on Barca goalkeeper Panos, who bravely dived at her feet.
Panos is down and in need of treatment.
21:49 , George Flood
87 mins: Barcelona still seem so fresh here as they look to add further gloss to an already one-sided scoreline.
Zinsberger makes a superb point-blank stop to deny Paredes and Vilamala then heads narrowly wide.
21:47 , George Flood
84 mins: Barca sent on Vilamala for Caldentey shortly before their fourth goal.
GOAL! Barcelona 4-1 Arsenal | Lieke Martens 83’
21:44 , George Flood
83 mins: Martens has been threatening ever since she came on and now has her goal.
She gets behind Williamson, collects a low pass and strives into the box before lofting the ball over the committed Zinsberger.
An ice-cool finish.
21:43 , George Flood
81 mins: Martens with another effort that is sent narrowly wide of the far post.
21:40 , George Flood
78 mins: Rolfo replaces Crnogorcevic for Barcelona, while Arsenal now send on Iwabuchi for Little.
Foord had her name taken for a foul on Putellas.
Another chance for Martens goes over the bar.
GOAL! Barcelona 3-1 Arsenal | Frida Maanum 74’
21:35 , George Flood
74 mins: Arsenal have been a lot better over the last 15 minutes or so and Heath’s fantastic free-kick delivery from the right bounces in from close range off Norwegian midfielder Maanum.
Only a consolation or the start of an impressive late fightback?!
21:33 , George Flood
74 mins: Arsenal’s best chance of the night, but Leon gets back to clear off the line from Parris!
21:33 , George Flood
72 mins: An immediate chance for Martens to net Barca’s fourth goal of the evening after an unfortunate slip from Williamson prevents her from cutting out a diagonal pass into the box.
Martens tries to convince Zinsberger she is about to curl a shot to the back post before driving to the near and hitting the side netting.
21:30 , George Flood
69 mins: Arsenal enjoying more success now as they get to the byline and a dangerous ball is too hot to be held by Panos.
They work another attack well and Foord goes down under pressure from Leon, but that’s not a penalty.
There’s then a chance for Beattie before Arsenal send on Nobbs for Walti and Barcelona replace the impressive Oshoala with Martens.
21:27 , George Flood
66 mins: Little bits of encouragement for Arsenal as the game begins to open up slightly, but that could be as much to do with Barcelona starting to ease up a touch as much as anything else.
Heath and Parris are definitely threats, but Panos still remains largely untroubled.
21:25 , George Flood
64 mins: Hansen will not stop running at Catley and is so difficult to stop once she gets into the box.
The Norwegian tees up Bonmati, whose low drive appears to hit team-mate Oshoala before being scrambled clear.
21:22 , George Flood
61 mins: The confident Caldentey tries to bend a right-footed shot into the top corner from distance.
It’s a great effort but flies over with Zinsberger in close attendance.
21:21 , George Flood
59 mins: Barcelona are unlikely to be denied this fourth goal as Hansen creates more danger and then a cross from the left is headed wide of the far post.
At the other end, USA legend Heath shoots wide for Arsenal.
21:17 , George Flood
56 mins: Hansen wants and deserves a goal tonight, but she’s denied this time by the legs of Zinsberger.
Arsenal are looking tired and would be lucky to keep this at 3-0.
21:16 , George Flood
56 mins: Eidevall changes his front three, with Foord, Parris and Heath all on.
Off go Mead, Miedema and McCabe.
21:15 , George Flood
54 mins: A very rare sight of goal for Arsenal as Miedema’s scuffed low effort is held by Panos after Barcelona give the ball away cheaply.
Mead then has a go from distance. That was likely her last contribution of the night - a triple sub is coming for Arsenal.
21:13 , George Flood
52 mins: Heath, Foord and Parris are all out warming up for Arsenal.
We’ll surely see some changes from Eidevall soon, though this game is surely completely lost now.
21:10 , George Flood
49 mins: A busy few minutes for a clearly frustrated Mead as she goes down holding her shoulder, looks to fashion an Arsenal chance and is then booked for a foul on Caldentey.
Another opportunity for Barca, but Hansen can’t provide the right finish.
GOAL! Barcelona 3-0 Arsenal | Asisat Oshoala 47'
21:08 , George Flood
47 mins: The free-kick is poor and rolled straight into goalkeeper Panos.
Barcelona break quickly and Beattie’s decision to try and step up to catch Oshoala offside proves fatal as the Nigerian sprints away to collect a fine through ball and fire home Barcelona’s third.
This could be a very long second half for Arsenal.
21:05 , George Flood
The second half is underway in Catalonia.
Can Arsenal mount an unlikely comeback or will Barcelona just pile on the misery?
An early yellow card for Paredes for a crunching challenge on McCabe.
21:03 , George Flood
The teams are out for the second half at the Johan Cruyff Stadium.
How long before Arsenal boss Eidevall looks to his bench?
20:50 , George Flood
Barcelona 2-0 Arsenal
One-way traffic in this Group C contest, with the holders mounting wave after wave of attacks and getting their reward through Caldentey and Putellas.
This could get much worse for the Gunners.
20:49 , George Flood
45 mins: Just one minute of added time signalled at the end of this first half.
GOAL! Barcelona 2-0 Arsenal | Alexia Putellas 43'
20:45 , George Flood
43 mins: It’s a great run from Oshoala, who gets free down the right flank and makes her way into the box, eventually cutting back for Putellas to guide home.
A huge mountain to climb for Arsenal now and a real blow to concede again just before half-time.
Barcelona are just relentless. So impressive.
20:42 , George Flood
39 mins: Leon tries an ambitious effort from distance that cannons into Walti, who appears to have hurt her ankle in the process.
But she’ll be fine to continue.
20:41 , George Flood
36 mins: Williamson does just enough to ensure Oshoala fires into the side netting as Arsenal - who cannot get a foot on the ball under such intense pressure - weather another storm.
16 attempts from the holders so far in this first half.
The Gunners getting in at half-time only 1-0 down would be a decent outcome for Eidevall.
20:38 , George Flood
34 mins: Pressure at both ends since the goal, with Walti’s free-kick into the box cleared by Paredes.
Barcelona are straight back on the attack looking for a second, but the ball rolls through to Zinsberger.
GOAL! Barcelona 1-0 Arsenal | Mariona Caldentey 31'
20:34 , George Flood
31 mins: The Arsenal resistance is broken just past the half-hour mark!
Zinsberger gets down to push out Oshoala’s low shot at her near post, but Caldentey reacts quickest - ahead of Arsenal skipper Little - to collect the rebound and slot home from close range.
20:32 , George Flood
29 mins: Zinsberger holds Torrejon’s header and the ball then just whistles narrowly past the dangerous Caldentey.
It’s all Barcelona still, but Arsenal have got to 30 minutes without conceding.
20:31 , George Flood
27 mins: Better from Arsenal before Mead is taken out by Torrejon, who is given a stern warning by Czech referee Jana Adamkova.
But Barca are quickly back to asking questions of this Gunners defence, with the tricky Hansen the architect.
Another corner after disciplined defending from Catley.
20:28 , George Flood
24 mins: Miedema stands tall in the wall to head Putellas’ free-kick behind.
Arsenal just about deal with the corner and look to break, but again Barcelona hunt in a pack to quickly recover the ball.
69 per cent possession for Barca to this point.
20:25 , George Flood
21 mins: Barcelona get more crosses into the box that are repelled before Guijarro’s drive is well blocked.
Hansen is then brought down right on the edge of the box by McCabe.
20:22 , George Flood
19 mins: Arsenal manage to beat that high and relentless Barcelona press, but they are foiled again by the high line of their defence as Miedema fails to check her run and is caught offside.
That is a potential opening for the Gunners if she can time that right.
20:19 , George Flood
15 mins: When Arsenal do manage to get a little bit of possession, Barca immediately press and harry with such intensity.
A really tough opening quarter of an hour for the visitors, but it is still goalless.
20:17 , George Flood
12 mins: Barcelona are laying siege to that Arsenal penalty area just at the moment, piling up the corners as Zinsberger slaps wide a curling strike from Torrejon.
The hosts were always going to start fast, but Arsenal need an outlet here if they are to successfully take the sting out of this game.
They surely can’t hold out like this for much longer.
20:14 , George Flood
11 mins: A rare Arsenal counter is halted in its tracks by the offside flag before Barca pour forward again, with Caldentey leading the charge and earning another corner.
20:13 , George Flood
10 mins: Oshoala is causing a lot of problems for Arsenal early on.
She slips into a gap in that right channel and produces a low diagonal strike that whistles wide of the far post.
Barcelona’s opening goal feels like only a matter of time.
20:11 , George Flood
8 mins: Barcelona pile on more pressure now, with Hansen looking particularly eager to break the deadlock early.
Her first effort is blocked, before a cross from the left falls between the Norwegian and Oshoala, with Hansen’s flicked header gathered by Zinsberger.
20:08 , George Flood
5 mins: Arsenal - set up in a compact 4-5-1 system - looking very nervous early on here, though there were flickers of promise for a moment on the break.
But at the other end, Caldentey and Hansen combine nicely before the former unleashes an effort that is pushed wide by Zinsberger.
The subsequent corner comes to nothing.
20:06 , George Flood
3 mins: This is already looking slightly ominous from Barcelona, with Arsenal compact and a tad nervy as they try to cope with Barca’s supreme confidence and movement.
Hansen delivers a dangerous cross in towards Oshoala but Arsenal somehow scramble clear.
20:04 , George Flood
1 mins: As you would expect from a team that have scored 25 goals in their last three games, Barcelona are immediately on the front foot as Caldentey threatens down the left flank and Oshoala puts Arsenal goalkeeper Zinsberger under some early pressure.
20:02 , George Flood
Both sets of players take a knee and we are underway!
19:59 , George Flood
As mentioned, Barcelona’s players are being presented with their Uefa trophies from last season ahead of kick-off.
A huge cheer for Alexia Putellas.
19:56 , George Flood
Here come the teams in Barcelona...
19:52 , George Flood
Less than 10 minutes remaining until kick-off at the Johan Cruyff Stadium.
Group C update: Hoffenheim 5-0 HB Koge
19:39 , George Flood
De Caigny has netted a last-gasp fifth for Hoffenheim against HB Koge.
That’s now a full-time result. 5-0 to the hosts.
In tonight’s other early kick-off, seven-time winners Lyon cruised past Hacken 3-0 in Sweden.
19:37 , George Flood
A wonderful night for football!
— UEFA Women’s Champions League (@UWCL) October 5, 2021
19:31 , George Flood
Arsenal and Barcelona are joined in Group C by German side Hoffenheim and Danish club HB Koge, both of whom are competing in the Champions League for the very first time this season.
The final whistle is imminent in their earlier fixture, with Hoffenheim set to run out 4-0 winners at Dietmar-Hopp-Stadion thanks to goals from Katharina Naschenweng, Nicole Billa, Luana Buhler and Tine De Caigny.
Arsenal have ‘no fear’, says Eidevall
19:22 , George Flood
Here’s more from Jonas Eidevall on the challenge facing his Arsenal team tonight:
“I have belief in this team,” he said. “We have scored not less than three in any game we have played so far, which is quite impressive.
“It’s a very good football team but they are also beatable. It’s 11 humans against 11 humans. In Sweden we say ‘a shovel is a shovel’. And a football game is a football game.
“I’m really looking forward to the challenge, with no fear at all.”
19:13 , George Flood
Barcelona rested players against Alaves at the weekend and still ran out 9-1 winners.
Only Mapi Leon, Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic, Aitana Bonmati and Mariona Caldentey keep their starting places after that weekend thrashing.
The likes of Putellas, Caroline Hansen and Asisat Oshoala all return, though Martens is only named as a substitute.
Hermoso in the matchday squad and looking to make her first appearance of the season from the bench.
Teams in full
19:04 , George Flood
Barcelona: Panos, Torrejon, Paredes, Leon, Crnogorcevic, Bonmati, Guijarro, Putellas, Hansen, Oshoala, Caldentey
Subs: Fernandez, Serrano, Pina, Hermoso, Coll, Ouahabi, Rolfo, Pereira, Vilamala, Martens, Engen, Font
Arsenal: Zinsberger, Maritz, Williamson, Beattie, Catley, Walti, Little, Maanum, Mead, Miedema, McCabe
Subs: Wubben-Moy, Patten, Nobbs, Parris, Williams, Foord, Schnaderbeck, Iwabuchi, Cull, Heath
Two Arsenal changes
19:00 , George Flood
Arsenal show two changes from the side that beat Aston Villa 4-0 in the WSL on Saturday.
England’s Leah Williamson is back in defence and Republic of Ireland captain Katie McCabe - who scored the Gunners’ third off the bench at the weekend - also comes in.
Lotte Wubben-Moy and Nikita Parris drop to the bench.
18:56 , George Flood
— CAMP🏆🏆🏆ONES (@FCBfemeni) October 5, 2021
18:56 , George Flood
— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) October 5, 2021
18:52 , George Flood
Barcelona are expecting a full capacity crowd of around 6,000 at the Johan Cruyff Stadium tonight.
Barcelona team news
18:45 , George Flood
Official lineups to come very shortly, but Sandra Panos, Jenni Hermoso, Leila Ouahabi and Andrea Pereira are all back in training for Barcelona, who are only missing midfielder Andrea Falcon as things stand.
The excellent Hermoso being available is a huge boost to the hosts. She has not played yet this season due to an ankle injury.
Barca absolutely dominated Uefa’s Player of the Year awards after their triumph last season, with Putellas winning the main prize ahead of Hermoso and Martens.
Uefa will hand out those trophies before kick-off tonight.
Eidevall: Barcelona are the best but don’t scare us
18:31 , George Flood
Despite Arsenal’s scintillating form, Eidevall is aware of the scale of the task facing his team tonight in only their second European campaign in eight seasons.
While he acknowledges that Barcelona - with a star-studded lineup containing the likes of Jenni Hermoso, Lieke Martens and Alexia Putellas - are the best team in Europe, he is also confident that the Gunners can compete and exploit any errors.
“I’m really looking forward to the challenge, with no fear at all,” said Eidevall. “I have belief in this team. It’s important to emphasise Barcelona is the best team — and I mean team in capital letters, the way they are playing and especially in offence.
“This is what drives us, to see how good we can be and how close we are to the best in the world.
“We are confident we can compete and that’s the mindset we have, to do our best. We know it’s a very good team we are playing against but they’re human, just like we are.
“They will make mistakes just like we will. It’s a very good team but they are also beatable.”
18:26 , George Flood
But Arsenal have also started life under Swede Eidevall - hired over the summer as the replacement for the departing Joe Montemurro - exceptionally well, winning all nine of their matches across all competitions so far this term.
The Gunners have also scored 35 times, topping the WSL - beating both reigning champions Chelsea and thrashing last year’s runners-up Manchester City - and advancing through to the FA Cup semi-finals with another demolition of rivals Tottenham.
They also thrashed Slavia Prague 7-0 on aggregate to book their place in the new 16-team Champions League group stage, with the great Vivianne Miedema bringing up her Arsenal century in the 4-0 second-leg win in the Czech Republic.
They also beat PSV Eindhoven and FC Okzhetpes of Kazakhstan earlier in qualifying.
18:23 , George Flood
Tonight’s contest in Catalonia pits two of Europe’s most in-form teams against each other.
Barcelona are the current Champions League holders, having thrashed Chelsea 4-0 in last season’s final in Gothenburg following five straight years of Lyon dominance.
They also only failed to win one game en route to winning the 2020/21 Primera Liga title by a whopping 25 points, while this season they have won all of their first five league matches, scoring 35 goals and conceding just once in the process.
Arsenal team news
18:15 , George Flood
Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall has almost a fully-fit squad to choose from for tonight’s high-profile showdown.
Danish defender Simone Boye Sorensen is still sidelined, while Swiss midfielder Malin Gut is recovering from the ruptured anterior cruciate ligament she suffered in training towards the end of last season.
How to watch Barcelona vs Arsenal
18:10 , George Flood
This season, DAZN is now the home of the Women’s Champions League.
All matches throughout the tournament can be viewed live for free via DAZN’s new Women’s Champions League YouTube channel.
18:01 , George Flood
Good evening and a very warm welcome to Standard Sport’s LIVE coverage of the opening night of the new-look 2021/22 Women’s Champions League.
This evening our focus in on the headline tie at Johan Cruyff Stadium, where two in-form, free-scoring teams collide as holders Barcelona meet Arsenal in Group C.
Stay tuned for match build-up, latest team news and live game updates after kick-off, which tonight is at 8pm BST.