As it happens, a point in Eindhoven would have been enough to secure first place in Group B, given that Inter Milan were destined to lose this evening to Tottenham.
But Ernesto Valverde had insisted before the game that he had no intention of speculating and he was true to his word. Barça went for the win, and got the win, although a plucky performance from PSV meant it was by no means a simple task.
The first half was electrifying. The two teams produced 18 shots on goal between them, and only by a miracle of nature did none of them go in.
PSV had every reason to feel frustrated. Gastón Pereiro especially. The Uruguayan brought out the best in Ter Stegen, hit the post and sent another chance flying from point blank range.
Luuk de Jong also headed onto the crossbar and, to be frank, Barça were fortunate not have conceded.
But the Catalans had moments of their own, especially whenever the ball got to Leo Messi, and goal-line clearances were the order of the day in the Dutch defence.
Goals at last
The second half was more about the Barça that we know and love. With the ball finally under control, the chances came with it.
After scoring three the last time these teams met, Messi soon had another goal against PSV to add to his collection.
A one-two with Ousmane Dembélé put the Argentinian in the kind of position where any ordinary player would just have a pop and see what happens. But Messi is no ordinary player. He shimmied among four PSV defenders until he’d picked his spot. And in it went.
The difficult made to look easy and Barça were a goal to the good.
The second also involved Messi. His free kick met Gerard Piqué, who was ideally placed to deflect the ball beyond the reach of Jeroen Zoet. Luck or genius? The latter of course!
And was that game over? Well…
Last push from PSV
Not quite. PSV, whose 23 shots were more than Barça have faced in a game all season, refused to drop their heads and were finally rewarded when De Jong headed home with seven minutes to play.
But ultimately it was just consolation for the Eredivisie side, and scant consolation at that. Despite playing some fine football in the Group of Death, they have just one point and not even a Europa League berth in return for their efforts.
Source: FC Barcelona