MADRID - Barcelona firmly dismissed any idea they were struggling to replicate last season's excellence with a masterful Champions League victory over Inter Milan, Spanish media said on Wednesday.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Lionel Messi, who are both recovering from thigh injuries, watched from the bench but were not missed as the European champions swept past Jose Mourinho's side 2-0 on Tuesday with early goals from Gerard Pique and Pedro.
"Europe trembles, the champions have returned," said daily Sport. El Pais wrote: "Music maestro, Barca are back." NEWS: Europe trembles as Barcelona make music Two draws and a defeat from their four group games before Tuesday had left Barca in real danger of going out of the competition.
Coupled with a draw against Athletic Bilbao in the league at the weekend, which saw Real Madrid replace them at the top of La Liga, and Barca looked to have lost the spark that took them to a memorable treble last year.
"The Blaugrana were back to their best. Alert in defence, sharp in attack, and with the creativity in midfield," El Pais added.
"The violinists returned and music sounded again in the stadium. It was a team triumph in an excellent game, well planned, played even better, and excellently resolved."
Andres Iniesta and Pedro joined Thierry Henry up front, in the absence of Ibrahimovic and Messi, and were two of Barca's outstanding players on the night.
"The debate over whether we have a big enough squad or not will never end. It will return again when we lose," Barca coach Pep Guardiola said. SPECTACULAR FOOTBALL
Inter manager Mourinho applauded their hosts: "Barca's football is spectacular.
"They played with greater intensity than we did, passed the ball better and quicker, and were perfect in their pressuring up front. They are a special side."
Sports daily AS was critical of the visitors' performance. "Inter passed through the Nou Camp like a sack of training balls, without leaving any kind of mark," they said.
Barca top Group F with eight points, two above Inter and Rubin Kazan, who meet at the San Siro in the last round of matches next month. Barca visit Dynamo Kiev.
Barcelona now turn their focus on the visit of Real Madrid for Sunday's 'clasico' at the Nou Camp.
"This result puts us back in a positive dynamic and helps boost our morale for the visit of Real," Xavi told reporters.