Thursday, April 29, 2010

Camp Nou disgrace: Barcelona "win" but crash out of Champions League

If ever a 1-0 game can be so entertaining it was the Barcelona v Inter Milan second leg match yesterday. Between Mourinho running around the pitch like an out of control 6 year old after the game, or Busquets Oscar winning performance, or the drama of the match as Barca chased the 2 goals, the game was entertaining and fun to watch.

First, Milan and the Special One need to be complimented for a well strategized and executed game plan. Barcelona had an amazing 76% possession during the match, that is unheard of in a 1-0 game let alone a match at this level. You usually see that when you get a Germany vs Andorra or France vs Faroe Islands type matches. But this is Inter Milan! Yet with all that possession Barcelona really only had a handful of legitimate scoring chances and the bulk of those came towards the end of the match when Inter were playing 5 across the back with 4 "holding" midfielders, they were not even trying to go past the half way line! Barcelona clearly lacked their second play maker in the form of Iniesta (still sidelined due to injury), with an additional creative dynamo in the middle, Barca may have found the right combination sooner. I also question Guardiola taking out Ibra in the second half and putting in Bojan. He must have known that Inter were going to pack in the box with white shirts even more as the game went on, so why take out your big center forward for another "water bug" of a striker? I realize that you move Pique up to a center forward role, but are you seriously going to tell me that Pique is a better option than Ibra? Granted there are some that feel the big Swede disappears in big matches, and there is some merit to this critic, however all it takes from a player of his caliber is one moment of brilliance which is capable of, and that cannot be done from the bench. Clearly Henry is off Guardiola's radar, having been firmly planted on the bench in favor of Jeffren, to play on the left wing in the second half. Red Bull New York never looked so good.

Second, the play acting and other shenanigans of the match were entertaining but at the same time took away from what should have been a better display of football. Clearly the first incident was the Busquets acting...

Um I mean would have thought he got elbowed and then kicked in the head by Tiago Motta. It was an absolute disgraceful display but not surprising from the lanky Spanish holding midfielder (by the way I know this made my friend Sam aka The Gooner irate since it is a pet peeve of his how much this player flops - you can listen to his thoughts on the Frog and Gooner podcast!) Simulation such as this is why I think there needs to be another ref on the pitch and possibly the use of video for such game changing events such as red cards and disputed goals...more on that in another blog! Once that happened, I started rooting for Inter, no way a player like Busquets needs to be rewarded for such play acting by getting to another Champions League final! Inter is also not fault free, they clearly were feigning so many injuries to break the game's rhythm, slow down Barca, waste time it was comical. Maicon crashing into the advertising boards early on and pretending his shoulder was broken....laughable. Ever time Lucio was near the ball he appeared to have been run over by a herd of elephants, comical. Granted these tactics worked, but comical and somewhat sad to see these players leverage such bush league tactics. Of course this might have been overshadowed by the ridiculous post game activities from both sides...

What was Mourinho doing? Okay we know what he was doing, but seriously...what other manager would prance around like a peacock looking like a 6 year old at a birthday party post chocolate cake and candy - hyped up on sugar and out of control? Maybe he was showing the Camp Nou fans who was #1 only elevating  his stock in the eyes of the Real Madrid powers that be...even more farcical was Valdes attempt to stop the Special One from his post game victory dance. The most comic was the grounds crew turning on the sprinkler system to get Inter off the pitch. Stay classy Barcelona!

So we have Bayern vs Inter...what were the odds on that final? Should be a fun filled 3 weeks of Mourinho telling us how great he is and how much more difficult his club have had it compared to Inter.

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