However much Bayer Leverkusen frustrated Barcelona, stifling Lionel Messi proved impossible for 90 minutes.
Messi helped Barcelona shake off its domestic troubles, getting his 38th goal and 20th assist of the season in a 3-1 victory at Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday night that moved the defending champions toward the quarterfinals.
"When you play against the German teams, you don't have the control or possession a lot and they are physically stronger," Barca coach Pep Guardiola said. "In the second half we played a game that was not too interesting for us, but we scored three goals and we will try to finish it in the second leg at home."
In the other game as the second round opened, Lyon won 1-0 at home against Cyprus' APOEL Nicosia. The second legs of the total-goals series are March 7.
Another four teams are in action on Wednesday when AC Milan hosts Arsenal and Zenit St. Petersburg takes on Benfica.
Coming off a weekend loss at Osasuna that dropped it 10 points behind Real Madrid in La Liga, Barcelona went ahead in the 41st minute when Messi slipped the ball through to Alexis Sanchez, who slotted a shot past goalkeeper Bernd Leno and inside the left post.
After Michal Kadlac tied the score in the 52nd by heading in Vedran Corluka's cross, Sanchez scored off Cesc Fabregas' through ball three minutes later. Messi got the final goal from a Dani Alves pass in the 88th, and with his 44th Champions League goal tied Alessandro Del Piero for eighth place.
Even Leverkusen thinks there is no way to rally at Camp Nou.
"I think the tie is finished to be honest," Corluka said.
Lyon could be joining Barcelona in the quarterfinals after Alexandre Lacazette's 58th-minute goal gave the French team the edge over APOEL, the first Cypriot team to reach the knockout phase. Lacazette's shot deflected off defender Paulo Jorge and looped over goalkeeper Dionisios Chiotis and under the crossbar.
Also, Braga's hopes of contesting a second successive Europa League final took a hit when Besiktas won the first leg of their round of 32 meeting.
Tomas Sivok's header and Simao's strike gave Besiktas a 2-0 win in Portugal after Braga had Helder Barbosa sent off in the 29th minute for a second bookable offense.
Also Tuesday, David Fuster gave Olympiakos a 1-0 victory at Rubin Kazan with a 71st-minute goal.