FC Barcelona were desperate to win against Dynamo Kiev last night, after back-to-back losses against Bayern Munich and Benfica in their first two matches in the UEFA Champions League group stage. They managed to do just that at the Camp Nou, but the 1-0 victory was completely uninspiring and it was more a relief than a big boost of confidence.

It was veteran defender Gerard Piqué who got the job done with a header in the 36th minute. The Catalans were unable to add to their tally, but Kiev found no answers either. Barcelona will take the 1-0 win and the three points gladly, knowing that they have at least partially revived their Champions League campaign.

In the end, a win is a win, and they needed the victory in the crucial week leading up to El Clasico. Real Madrid will be coming to visit, and Barcelona need all the confidence they can muster when they face their biggest rivals.

Real Madrid started their season well, but suffered a dip in form earlier this month. However, they won their own midweek Champions League match in emphatic fashion by thrashing Shakhtar Donetsk 5-0. In other words, Real Madrid have the momentum going into El Clasico.

Nevertheless, things are taking a more positive turn at the Camp Nou after a dismal showing in the first few weeks of the season. They finally clinched their first victory in Europe, and they will be hoping to find a way to claw their way out of the group stage. The club needs it for many reasons, including the fact that the additional revenue from making it to the knockout stages of the competition will give them a much-needed financial boost.

The return of Ansu Fati from injury and his agreement to extend his contract is yet another ray of hope for the Catalan giants, who have also secured the signature of youngster Pedri in recent weeks. These signings are a clear indication of the club's commitment to rebuild in the post-Messi era, and president Joan Laporta appears to be doing what he can to untangle the mess that he inherited from the previous administration.

The El Clasico will be the first without Messi in the roster for a very long time, but the Real Madrid squad also lost enigmatic captain Sergio Ramos. The results will mean a lot for both teams, and it will be a mouthwatering affair for fans of both sides.

Gerard Pique
Gerard Pique's goal gave Barcelona a welcome victory AFP / Josep LAGO