Champions league Semi Final – Inter Milan versus Barcelona

Is this not one of the better Champ’s League seasons in awhile? 3-1 Inter today as Mourinho gameplanned both Messi and Xavi right out of the gam.

Power finally came back on, entire neighbourhood was out and couldn’t get anywhere in time to watch what seemed like a great game…BAH

Team 5 foot 7 celebrating. Will we see some of this today?

Well its been 10 minutes and I still don’t have power. Luckily this screen is up so I can write some thoughts. Inter were playing really well for being a goal down and the equalizer was inevitable. Barcelona are very much like the Spanish national side in that they are exquisite in their attacking but their defense (Casillas aside) is nothing to write home about.

They also only know one way to win and its by doing it pretty. Example – against the US they needed to grind it out or try something against the 11 men back defense they came up against, but they kept trying to thread the killer pass instead of drawing the defenders out by shooting from afar. In the end they were very susceptible to the counter attack which the US made them pay for. Don’t get me wrong, Barcelona are the best club in the world at the moment and their attacking quality is second to none, but they can be stopped as Mourinho and Inter Milan are proving. Now just wait for the power to come back on and Barcelona are 5-1 up! This is getting ridiculous! its been 15 minutes!

30:00 – GOOOOOAAALLL. Sneijder does what Milito can’t and sends a shot passed Valdes after some nice passing by the Inter midfielders and attackers around the Barcelona penalty box. As soon as it goes in, all the power in my neighborhood goes out…god knows when we will be back…this sucks!

27:00 – Milito seems to have picked up what ails his fellow countrymen striker in Madrid, Higuain, as he squanders a second chance to level the game. He was one on one with Valdez, albeit at another acute angle but sends his shot wide. He had an open Eto’o in the six yard box as well. Inter need to bury these if they are to have any hope of winning this tie. Meanwhile in the managers box, Mourinho’s face is a Fergie red but his hair is still immaculate.

22:00 - Well the game has certainly sprung into life as Inter win a free kick on the left side of the pitch which Sneijder takes and sends over the Barca defenders to a wide open and offside Lucio who heads over anyways (how’s that for a run-on sentence). Poor from the Brazilian captain.

19:00 – GOOOOOOAALLL. Immediately, Barcelona bounce back as Maxwell waltzes into the Inter penalty area and sends a cross right into the path of Pedro who shoots into the corner. Atrocious West Ham, lazy like defending by Inter Milan. “The Special One” will be turning a Fergie orange after conceding that soft goal. 1-0 Barcelona.

17:00 – Game as slowed down somewhat as both teams are feeling each other out. As I write that, Eto’s takes a soft shot which Valdes parries into the path of Milito –  but he cannot put the ball into the back of the net from an acute angle and the ball slowly dribbles across an open goal.

12:00 - The ref makes a terrible call on Eto’o who wins the ball cleanly off Keita and in disgust boots the ball into the crowd. He gets a needless yellow for his efforts. Bad calls all around.

8:00 – Note: Iniesta is injured and therefore not playing  but still is small and still is amazing. Shame neither Brazilian’s Maicon or Alves play LB cause it would be amazing to see them go against each other. Both are defenders in name only! In other exciting drama both Ibrahimovic and Eto’o are playing against their former clubs. Alves is rolling around the ground with some form of wrist injury.

5:00 – Barca have a free kick and a looping ball is sent toward the smallest player on the pitch Xavi (actually Barcelona possess three of the smallest players playing in Xavi, Iniesta and Messi, but as Crouch can testify too…size isn’t everything). Cambiasso kicks it back for a corner but nothing comes off it.

2:00 - Barca are in their HIDEOUS neon wanna be Dutch uniforms and Inter are in their traditional black and blue striped jersey’s. Both teams start off attacking. I suspect there will be a lot of slick passing and mazy runs by both teams.

TWEET – And they’re off. Barca start off and immediately there is a foul. Hopefully as always, this will be an exciting game!

Welcome all to this mouth watering tie between two great and storied sides. Both teams boast world class players and are led by possibly two of the top managers in the world, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola. Very different styles of managing, “The Special One” is arrogant, brash, full of himself and intimidating. Former Barca star Guardiola, is quiet and thoughtful but possesses the utmost respect from his players. Barca’s attacking style will look to pry open Mourinho’s stingy defense.

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51 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/20 at 12:05 PM

    Interesting to see right-footed Zanetti at right back to deal with Messi. Will be interesting to see who tucks in for Inter as Maicon gallops up the right now.

    Reply

  2. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/20 at 12:11 PM

    Mourinho’s playing it very open…trying to exhaust and put pressure on Barca’s defense.

    Reply

  3. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/20 at 12:12 PM

    How can Maicon be offside when he’s looking down the line??

    Reply

  4. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/20 at 12:14 PM

    wow — pretty pretty play by Inter….after the cross that is…

    Reply

  5. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/20 at 12:15 PM

    Inter have had 3 decent chances to score now. They are very happy to let Barcelona have the ball, would like to see possession stats.

    Reply

  6. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/20 at 12:22 PM

    I haven’t seen Barca pinned this deep in their end for as long periods of time in awhile.

    Reply

  7. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/20 at 12:25 PM

    Every time Messi touches the ball immediately there is a double team — impressive discipline by Inter.

    Reply

  8. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/20 at 12:38 PM

    It’s been a half punctuated by defensive mistakes, rather than offensive brilliance.

    Reply

  9. This ref is very poor. He reminds me of Paul “No Blood No Foul” Tamberino from the early days of MLS.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/20 at 12:44 PM

      Really — I’ve watched about 30 mins and I thought the refs were great–keeping control of the game, not handing out ticky tack fouls.

      No?

      Reply

  10. Busquets was fouled twice on the right touchline (First kicked in the shin, and then shoved in the back), the ref finally blows the whistle, and then books Busquets for dissent? I don’t know. “Let them play” works to an extent, but it can backfire as well as in the 1990 World Cup semi-final between Italy and Argentina, where the French referee lost control of the match.

    Admittedly, I tuned in just before half-time.

    Reply

  11. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/20 at 12:51 PM

    Wow — what a way to come out of half time….

    I can see Mourinho’s head being the size of a blimp after this one.

    Reply

  12. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/20 at 12:51 PM

    Point taken Charles, but with certain players, it’s a case of Cry Wolf.

    Reply

  13. Fair enough George. I have no problems with that. Lord knows I’ve watched enough matches where teams from the continent or from central america drop to the pitch if you breathe on them.

    Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/20 at 1:09 PM

      Yes, that is annoying. I was expecting the ref to call it back when there wasn’t an advantage but he didn’t.

      Reply

  14. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/20 at 12:56 PM

    I just witnessed Maicon shut down Ibra and then casually shrug of a challenge from the Swede and carry the ball up the field…WOW…

    Reply

  15. Of course Busquets was fouled twice and didn’t follow the old dictum of fall, grab your ankle and yell in pain. Perhaps this is the type of officiating that makes players feel the need to simulate? Just an idea.

    Reply

  16. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/20 at 1:06 PM

    How was that not offside????

    Reply

  17. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/20 at 1:13 PM

    Ibrahimovic has been poor tonight. I have to say.

    Reply

  18. I wonder if any of this time for Maicon’s injury and the subs will be added on to the end of the match? I’m going to guess no.

    Reply

  19. Sweet idea from Alvez

    Reply

  20. I hope Barça scores from this free

    Reply

  21. Simulation…I think not. I’ve seen enough.

    Reply

  22. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/20 at 1:26 PM

    Disagree that it was a foul on Alves…Sneidjer held up from the rear view.

    Reply

  23. Looked to me like he got clouted in the legs from behind.

    Reply

  24. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/20 at 1:34 PM

    He caught his heel IMO.

    Sneijder was grabbing Messi’s shirt too just now.

    Reply

  25. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/20 at 1:38 PM

    Messi just doesn’t like contact.

    Brilliant work by Mourinho to double and trap Messi every single time he had the ball. I think the announcers mentioned it when Xavi was looking to link in the middle and Messi was standing there flat-footed.

    That’s a player that’s been beaten down throughout the game.

    Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/20 at 1:40 PM

      Agreed, Inter just didn’t allow Barca to get Messi into the game. Hopefully the media will come down from cloud 9 now.

      Reply

      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/20 at 3:00 PM

        I think it’s pretty amazing that extremes of Messi.

        I’m hard-pressed to remember more than two legitimate chances he had.
        He needs to be more dynamic in that situation–along with the manager–in finding him a way to get involved.

        I know Pep took Ibra out,, but Messi continued to inhabit the center of the pitch. Why not maybe split him out to the left and attack Balotelli who came in cold against Maicon and is prone to making an egregious error here and there.

        Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/20 at 3:16 PM

          I thought Zanetti shifted to RB and Chivu (sub) slotted in at LB, no? It goes to show how important Xavi is, he didn’t get to make the little passes he usually does, and when he did, Inter managed to get some good blocks in. I am surprised Messi didn’t go more centrally earlier, and I feel that he could have tuned Lucio or at least drawn a foul with the ball at his feet.

          Reply

        • Posted by sfshwebb on 2010/04/20 at 3:36 PM

          so not being able to watch the game due to a neighbor wide power outage, does this statement that i wrote hold true for the rest of this game?

          “Barcelona are very much like the Spanish national side in that they are exquisite in their attacking but their defense (Casillas aside) is nothing to write home about.

          They also only know one way to win and its by doing it pretty. Example – against the US they needed to grind it out or try something against the 11 men back defense they came up against, but they kept trying to thread the killer pass instead of drawing the defenders out by shooting from afar. In the end they were very susceptible to the counter attack which the US made them pay for. Don’t get me wrong, Barcelona are the best club in the world at the moment and their attacking quality is second to none, but they can be stopped as Mourinho and Inter Milan are proving.”

          Reply

      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/20 at 3:55 PM

        Shaun, most of what you said is fair. For the purests out there, Barcelona play football the “right way”. However, it is not the only way to play. Mourinho is not stupid. He knows if you let Barcelona play, and stand “toe-to-toe” with them, they will pass you to death and play you off the park. Inter played a very smart game. Even though Barcelona had a lot of possession, a lot of it was in front of them and Inter would let Barcelona do that in the middle third. In the first half for example, it was Inter who had the better chances. They did a good job in closing down Xavi on the ball, and as Matthew et al have said on this thread, Messi was suffocated as soon as he got the ball. Inter played mainly by denying space but having 10 men in their own half and then playing hard quickly. Barcelona played really high up the pitch, and if Inter had a little more quality with the final ball, who know what might’ve happened? In terms of chances created, Inter edged it, but Inter definitely had a little luck on the night with the 3rd goal and a legit penalty claim against them. With 2 away goals, I would fancy Barcelona at the Nou Camp to go through. Now, I am not so sure.

        Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/20 at 4:03 PM

          Oh, and I forgot to include that Inter’s goals came from attacking Abidal’s zone…

          Reply

        • Posted by sfshwebb on 2010/04/20 at 4:09 PM

          Thanks George…I agree that Barcelona play the “right way”. Unfortunately one can stop this with some pig-headedness. IE Liverpool a couple of year ago.

          Reply

  26. yikes. between the fact that milito was offside on the last goal and no penalty call when alves went forward (yes, im sure alves embellished, but when there you are clipped from behind like he clearly was, that is nothing but a penalty) you have to wonder about that refereeing. both of those moments changed the game tremendously, but missing both is a sin.

    Reply

  27. Posted by i like tuesday on 2010/04/20 at 8:22 PM

    Finally got round to watching the game and it was a Mourinho masterclass with Barca’s goal against the run of play. His tactics were excellent – pressure high but defend deep, then compress the space between midfield and defense. And Maicon, what a player! No coincidence Barca only came into the match after Messi took him out. Always someone stepping out to pressure Xavi when he got away from Sneijder. How about the defensive shift that Etoo put in? Really brilliant performance from a solid but fluid Inter side that made Barca look ordinary for about 75 minutes.

    Reply

    • The biggest thing Mourinho accomplished was preventing Barca’s fullbacks from creating extra-man situations in midfield. This has been the emerging trend in recent seasons and Mourinho’s the first to really crack it. With attacking fullbacks so key to the midfield fluency of the many sides, shutting them down is the key to winning the midfield battle – which Inter clearly won in the first half, though they were happy to concede possession to Barca who found little penetration.

      Note how Alves was pushed back/inside in the first half by Pandev, leaving Barcelona without width on the right. This allowed Zanetti to get quite tight to his centerbacks, denying Messi the space he likes to operate in. Messi only found one opportunity to shoot from this position. Thiago Motta compressed the vertical space whenever Messi found the ball and tracking him with players in support when he came deep. This was also the space Sneijder consistently found by running from inside to outside, resulting in his goal and his assist on the third goal.

      On the opposite flank, Barca had no real answer to Maicon once he started to come into the match. Eto’o really impressed with his defensive shift on the right which limited Maxwell’s ability to join midfield to support possession. I think you’d find Ibra’s comparative lack of tracking back to be Mourinho’s main motivation to be rid of him – he does not tolerate players that won’t put in a shift.

      Thiago Motta or Sneijder always stepped out to close down Xavi and deny him penetrative passing lanes and forcing him to play sideways and back – leading to visible frustration in the second half. Without Iniesta to take on the creative role that Xavi was usually denied, Barca looked flat and lacking ideas until Maicon was clocked by Messi, who had no intention of playing the ball. Later in the second half, Alves was able to get into the more advanced wide positions from which he supports and pulls the fullback out wide to create space for Messi in the inside channel, leading to a much better spell from Barca.

      Reply

      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/21 at 7:45 AM

        In addition to Ibrahimovic’s lack of defensive duty, he didn’t seem to roam, he looked a little static in the centre. Do you think this hindered Messi driftiing inside?

        Reply

        • Exactly… when i say put in a shift, I’m thinking that Ibra is just too static for the way Barca wanted to play last night – he was the footballing version of constipation. He spent the evening standing around occupying the space that Messi wants to get into. If he’s pulling Lucio or Samuel out of shape and giving Messi/Pedro space to run into that’s one thing, but he just doesn’t do this. Still, Ibra’s goals against Arsenal were very direct and un-Barca so he does give them something different.

          Pep would’ve been better off using the type of line-up he used against Madrid, without a true CF. Also, Mourinho realized you stop Messi by stopping Xavi getting him the ball. But really, a lot of credit goes to Inter’s player who were all immense (excepting maybe Balotelli).

          Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/21 at 8:41 AM

          The one thing that I was disappointed with, was when Ibrahimovic had a couple of half chances, he didn’t commit himself 100% – they were balls that came in chest height and he tried to poke a toe at it. Ridiculous. Also, Lucio and Samuel are big guys, surely a little runt like Messi would cause them more problems jinked around the box. That didn’t happen because Ibrahimovic, as we agree, was static and occupied space messi wanted to attack.

          BTW, this is the argument re. Crouch and Heskey when it comes to getting the best out of Rooney.

          Cambiasso deserves a lot of praise, because he slotted in behind Maicon when he went forward (usually Zanetti does this but he was a wrong footed LB to counter Messi cutting in). Unfortunately, with the camera focusing on the ball, it is easy to miss these strategic and tactical elements.

          Reply

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