Thursday, April 29, 2010

Barcelona 1 - Internazionale 0 (2-3 on aggregate): The Dream Is Over (Updated)

I have a very painful feeling in the pit of my stomach right now and am hurting considerably, but I am of the view that if I'm around in the good times I should man up and write a post when Barca lose (even though they won 1-0 today, but you know what I mean). Below are some disjointed thoughts, and please keep in mind that I'm upset right now, so I reserve the right to change my mind on some things later.

1. Inter were the better team over 180 minutes. There is no getting around this fact: they deserved to go through. They did all the hard work in the first leg -- very rarely does a team score three goals in one leg of a Champions League semifinal and not go through. The difference between 2-1 and 3-1...hell, I don't even know what the appropriate metaphor would be. But it wasn't 2-1, it was 3-1. And scoring two goals against this Inter team, coached by Jose Mourinho, featuring seven hard-ass South Americans whose sole purpose is to stop you scoring (Julio Cesar, Maicon, Lucio, Samuel, Zanetti, Motta, Cambiasso, not to mention Chivu)? Highly unlikely. I knew as much before the game; I had watched them against Chelsea (both legs) and watched Barca's first leg and knew that finding a way through would be nigh on impossible. Not twice. And so it proved.

2. There is plenty of talk out there about Inter's "tactical brilliance". This is one of pet peeves with football "analysis". Putting ten men behind the ball and having them organized is not a measure of tactical brilliance. It is justified, and it is to be admired if done right under the circumstances (as it was today), and so on, but please don't confuse it for tactical brilliance.

Funnily enough, I thought the actual tactical brilliance from Inter came in the first leg. There they left Milito and Sneijder far enough up the pitch such that Pique, Puyol and Busquets were always fearful of the counter, and thus could not join in the attacks as they did today (substitute Puyol for Yaya). They also took care to not press Barca in the middle of the park, which so many teams try to do before getting ripped apart with their slick passing. No, they made a very conscious decision at the San Siro to press Barca only in the final third, to conserve energy but also to frustrate Barca. It worked, and they nicked three goals to wit (that one of them was off-side is neither here nor there).

But repeat after me: putting. ten. men. behind. the. ball. is. not. tactical. brilliance.

3. The game was supposed to be 90 minutes but it only ended up being about 55 thanks to Inter's time-wasting. I suppose I should hate the game and not the player, but really, this was so egregious. Maicon, Samuel, and Lucio were the biggest offenders. Is it a surprise that Jose Mourinho coached teams all seem to do the same disgusting things? No. But it doesn't make it less galling.

4. A couple of points about Sergio Busquets. He is a cheat -- a diving, play-acting cheat. He embodies everything about FC Barcelona, except exactly the opposite. I don't want to spend too much time on this. I just hope Pep really sorts him out. He's still young, and I have hope that he will learn. But right now, he's a disgusting footballer.

But please keep in mind that while his rolling around was disgusting, Motta was already on a yellow and would've got sent off anyway because a hand to the face is a yellow. He would've missed the final either way too. So please relax on that front. And Motta had it coming to him -- him and Bayern's Van Bommel are the prototypical "we do a lot of shit off the ball and kick everything that moves and are basically thugs but we seem to get away with it an awful lot" guys. So he gets no sympathy from me. (Ironically, both Motta and Van Bommel were important cogs in the Ronaldinho Barca teams).

5. On Ibra and Henry: well, can't say Ibra disproved his doubters today. He held the ball up well, but he also was a non-factor in the box. The simple fact is that Ibra was bought to break Chelsea-style buses. Barca faced a Chelsea-style bus today. And the only time they looked like breaking it is when Ibra was replaced by a nineteen year old kid who looks twelve. I'd say that's pretty damning. He's scored a lot of goals (more than Eto'o) and provided a lot of assists (more than Eto'o) this year, so I'm not saying the transfer was a "mistake". I'm just saying some tough questions have to be asked given the circumstances.

And Henry? When Pep puts you behind Bojan and Jeffren, I'd say that's a pretty good indication that your career for big teams is over. Not that we needed another reminder, but still. Barca need an attacking midfielder/winger who can score goals in the worst possible way this summer. Whether it's David Silva or Cesc Fabregas or Luis Suarez or Angel di Maria or whoever -- they need another goal-scorer.

6. The refereeing in the two legs was quite crap, but it was quite crap for both teams, so no one can complain.

7. You stay classy, Jose. I mean, just look at his reaction after the game. It's pathetic. It's so, so pathetic. It always has to be about him. Winning or losing, home or away, he can never be gracious. Look at him poking his nose in Guardiola's business. Who does that?

I know there are people out there who like Mourinho for all this stuff, but I can't see why. You can be cunning and employ gamesmanship or what not, but to have such little class is really unseemly. It really is. He is a disgusting human being.

8. Pique, you beauty. He really has become Barca's third most important player, after Xavi and Messi. He can do it all, including, evidently, playing center forward. Watching him in these two legs, and watching him keep Ronaldo in his pocket in the Clasico, and watching him against Chelsea and United last year and against Inter in the group stages, you begin to realize how much of a big game player he is. If he's not wearing the captain's arm-band in less than five years, I'll wear a CR9 Madrid shirt in public.

9. In general, I was very proud of the Barca team today (except for the aforementioned Busquets). They kept fighting and fighting and fighting and gave it their all. It really was a heroic performance. Yes there were some bad touches and some ill-advised shots and some panicky moves in the second half, but you can't fault the effort and the desire. No team is going to win everything, but it really warms the heart when your team leaves it all out there. And Barca did. They can walk away with their head held high.

10. I really hate it when my sports teams lose. It is very, very cruel. European football especially -- you work, and work, and work, and then it comes apart because one or two moments of madness. And I have no need to tell you that this year, as a Barca fan, making (and winning) the final would've been extra special. Extra, extra, extra, extra, extra special.



Ali said...

Wp, Barca.

Razz said...

And yet they could have still gone thru despite Inter's heroics, had Bojan not missed a sitter. Oh well. Next year, maybe.

Asfandyar said...

Pique's goal was offside too. Since we're going to be pedantic about things - a limb in an offside position is deemed offside and quite a lot of Pique was offside. But fucking hell that swivel. I did a facepalm when that happened cause that was just class. Best CB in the world, easy.

regarding 4, a hand to the face isn't always yellow. There's some shocking refereeing that's been going around the past 2 years almost, but a hand to the face is NOT a yellow/red unless it's malicious intent. Without Busquets rolling on the floor and sneaking a peek at the referee no one would've noticed it.

regarding 7; Jose is a massive cunt, but really? Valdes trying to stop him trying to celebrate with his own supporters? Brilliant, lovely, graceful Barca turning on the sprinklers within a minute of the game being over, especially where the Inter players were celebrating? The tax related shit with Eto'o?

Last night we saw the ugly, disgusting side of those saviours of football, those Unicef-loving, sponsorship shunning bastions of beautiful football and general display-ers of class.

Now that I'm done being a cunt:

as Maureen would say, chin up. Despite the surprising lack of a plan B yesterday (isnt that kind of what Ibra was bought for?), Barca still are the best team in Europe. The fact that teams of Chelsea's, Man Utd's and Inter's calibre aren't willing to play Barca at their natural game is enough proof of how dangerous this team is.

oh, and somehow, losing to the CL in the semi-final is undoubtedly one of the the worst sport related feelings ever. I don't know why, but I still remember going out to Leverkusen and Milan, and it still hurts and annoys.

Anyway, at least we can hold hands and have a couple of laughs at Real's expense. Sneijder and Robben leading their teams out at the Bernabeu. Glorious.

Alpha Za said...

bro, the best team won. plain, flat and fucking simple.

Any team thats down to 10 men, plays etoo at left back and still manages to keep out 'the best barca side ever constructed', btw, Pique was definitely offside. I think Bojan probably deserved to have gotten that goal he scored after the hand ball, it was unintentional. He did however miss a sitter, but that's not a big deal.

What was criminal was how they were primarily restricted to long range shots (mostly off target) and didn't have a whole lot of invention. As crowded as the final quarter of the pitch was, you expect more from barca. btw, did anyone notice how inter gave away really few free kicks in the final third? Impressive.

Santa said...

putting. NINE. men. behind. the. ball. IS. COMMON. SENSE. in. a. away. leg. semifinal. ESPECIALLY @ nou camp.

Salute said...

A little compliment to Julio Cesar.
He was brillant!

Ahsan said...

Razz: Indeed. That's the way the cookie crumbles.

Asfand: If Pique's goal was offside, so was Milito's. A hand to the face is basically a yellow if the ref sees it, which he did. And Valdes was trying to stop Maureen from inciting a riot, which I think is fine. The sprinklers bit was in bad taste, yes.

Alpha Za: I already said the better team over 180 mins won, please check point 1. They were restricted to long range shots because of Inter's organization and cramping the box.

Santa: Yes, I agree. But it's not "tactical brilliance". So let's call it what it is: a means to an end.

Salute: He was indeed. Best goalkeeper in the world for me.

Santa said...

What is tactical brillance?
Is it measured by the amount of clear cut chances u persent ur opposition?
If so then in my opinion that was certainly "tactical brillance" by Maureen and the NINE men army

Arselona said...

Don't you mean the 'obsession' is over ?

I am so happy Barca got beat. I love the team but they were riding too high and went down in desperation.. also I'm an Arsenal fan.. so I'm just bitter..

mcphisto said...

Asfandyar, you are my hero.

I in no way want to rub salt into barca or your wounds. Heck, i was fully rooting for them once man utd lost, but the whole she-bang of being the pious, divine, holy men of football , last night was a rude rude reality check for them.

Barca were sore losers and You, Ahsan, are smart enough to admit that. Valdez stopping jose was the most ridiculous thing and then sprinklers bit, haha, i thought it just made it look good in pictures and i am sure inter players wouldnt have mind it.

apart from all of that, jose haters / barca lovers need to realise and understand that 'TOTAL FOOTBALL' includes the concept of DEFENDING. Also, common sporting sense teaches you that when in a battle between david and goliath, NEVER PLAY TO GOLIATH's strength. Jose realised it , and that i feel was indeed tactical genius on his part. He could have instructed his players to go the 1st leg way and play smooth , fluid football which they showed at san siro, but he resisted the urge and adopted the pragmatic approach. Also, after going a man down meant he had to do what he did.

I love barcelona, the football they play and the values they hold but last night, we also got to see the ugly, disgraceful, disrespecting side of barca.

Jose atleast has the balls to stand up to what he says and takes all the shit thrown at him, but atleast he never claimed to be the angel either.

Ahsan said...


No, tactical brilliance is when you innovate your tactics and can surprise your opponent by catching them off guard and confusing the hell out of them. The Inter plan was predictable and exactly what you would expect from Mourniho (which is why I continue to maintain that the first leg is where the tactics from Inter were exceptional). Anyway, this is a stupid debate. If you think putting every man in a white shirt behind the ball is somehow "brilliant" or smart thinking, then there's nothing I can say to convince you otherwise.


I am not defending the sprinklers thing, but again, the fault doesn't lie with Valdes but with Mourniho. He deliberately tried to incite the crowd. You don't do that. I'm sorry, he's pathetic.

There's so much anti-Barca sentiment out there, and that's fine. Support who you support. But it's almost as if people have been waiting and waiting and waiting for an opportunity to have a go at Barca, and now they are.

Santa said...

"If you think putting every man in a white shirt behind the ball is somehow "brilliant" or smart thinking"

I will reiterate. I think it's was common sense.

"The Inter plan was predictable and exactly what you would expect from Mourniho"

Here's a good read.

mcphisto said...

Whatever happened in Champions League, i wont be touching on that subject anymore. Technically, both teams i was rooting for got kicked out.

its time to get ready for the heartbreak that is Pakistan Cricket Team.

Losing to Zimbabwe is a nice way to know what is in store for us.

Anonymous said...

that was tactical brilliance and if anyone says otherwise they have either:

a) never played a competitive football match in their lives or done 5 minutes of defensive training drills to appreciate the acumen needed to defend


b) don't shit about football whatsoever.

if it was as simple as putting 10-men behind the ball then every FUCKING team would do it and be successful - which clearly with barca over the last 2 years hasn't worked.

tactical brilliance is making it work, surprising the opposition into panicking and trying something as unfamiliar as long-range shots in the FIRST HALF with a MAN UP, keeping messi silent for 7 flipping games. that my (sore loser) friend - is tactical brilliance.

Anonymous said...

don't *know* shit about football whatsoever...

there is also possibility c) which is that both a) and b) apply - i.e. haven't ever kicked a ball AND don't know shit about football...

this seems to be the dominant option for the barca supporters here...

Sala said...

I hate Mourinhio; however Barca and Barca fans have become slightly too arrogant for my liking.

Beautiful football – yes and lets leave it at that.
There are many things that Barcelona does that I find unfair. Maybe later ill post it but as far as the match goes...

Im confused if that was really tactics or not; yeah putting ten men behind the ball is a tactic but at the same time would you classify that as wow I did NOT see that coming?

So lets say his tactics were spot on but not brilliant.

Busquets “He embodies everything about FC Barcelona, except exactly the opposite” This is exactly why I don’t like Barca. The attitude that barca does nothing wrong. Barca have some pretty unethical behaviour so lets just talk about their football and not about their values etc. etc. etc.

And keep ure paws off Cesc; he’s more a Arsenal player than a Barca one anyway.

Haha Jose was a dick for that run; he always does something to incite the crowd, but its not like the crowd weren’t going after him. All fair in love and war.

Pique should be captain in a max of two years. Puyol and Valdes have what we would call a “parchee” no way they deserve to get into a Barca team. Puyol maybe but not Valdes. ahh the advantages of being born in the right area!!

What would be fucking painful would be to lose La Liga now. Its going to be close – away to Villareal and away to Seville are not that easy but players need to stand up.

Its squeaky bum time!!

Anonymous said...

Anon 1150 and 243:

It is a combination of A & B. More so A than B.

Mr. Butt should stick to giving his views on Cricket and Basketball as he played those sports with a marginal degree of skill (for a short period)

The problem with Barca fans is that they have the same holier-than-thou attitude that the team has recently adopted.

So Barca knew Inter would put everyone behind the ball and yet despite knowing the obvious they couldn't counter that? Turns out it was tactical brilliance after all. The Special One would have figured a way around it. For all their UNICEF shirts they did switch the sprinklers on and after all the shit Jose got, I for one am glad he gave it right back.

Inter were the better team on the day and I'm hoping the Special One can deliver the CL to Inter before he moves on to MU to cap a glorious career

right side of the river said...

What frustrates me the most is the whole "Yes... Mourinho did it!" comments.

There were 11 players on the pitch too guys.

How is this one guy bigger than the whole club?

Pep didn't do it when Barca won last year

Turdface didn't do it when ManU won the year before

Yet whenever teams coached by Mourinho win, it's the coach that "does it".

karachikhatmal said...

i'm quite late on this, so my comments are off the topic.

but seriously, you whole gaggle of anon commenters. unless one of you is like stan collymore in disguise, what is the fucking point of picking on ahsan's playing abilities as an extension of his ability to analyse the game? harsha bhogle, gideon haigh, clr james, sid lowe never really played their respective sports at some decent quality either, but they are fucking good/brilliant at their analysis. so seriously, this point is beyond stupid.

secondly, the word that the tactics debate is lacking is 'catennacio' which is the style of defensive play pioneered by the herrera at inter. what happened at the nou camp was NOT an example of that because the entire match was played in inter's half hence ruling out the possibility of playing with a libero. this was because inter were a man down of course, and its debatable how things would have gone down had all 11 been around. but since there wasn't any specific man marking move, no deep lying playmaker, no special movement to counter xavi messi et al, i am not sure what the fucking point is about tactics existing.

finally, amongst all the dip shit comments here, mr anon 11.50 is wrong on so many monumental levels its hard to begin, but to start with, defending for your life for 70 minutes at the nou camp requires skill, courage, patience and stamina, but its not a fucking tactic.

and if you watched la liga you would have seen that many smaller sides have tried parking the bus against barca and had little success cuz they get tired. only inter and chelsea have been amongst the big sides to do it, and its worked both times. man u and arsenal tried to play them at their own game, and got fucked.

if mourinho's tactics are to be applauded, it was his last minute switch of pandev with a fake injury, and his repeated snipes in the press at barca that in my mind made the difference. mourinho's brilliance does not lie in his tactics - almost every little club plays that style of football & 50s-80s italian sides, greece 2004, leeds 1970s, real under capello, getafe, deportivo, are all examples of sides playing this way. if mourinho is a legend, its his ability to gee up players in different teams, contexts and leagues in the exact "us-against-all" siege mentality kind of way with stunning success.

what really sucks is waiting for so long to bash barca, only for all the bandwagon wannabes to fucking ruin it with their bullshit POVs. if you don't have the courage to even use a fake name in an internet conversation, i doubt you have the courage to support and love a team.

Anonymous said...


the best commentators in any sport usually have had SOME exposure to that sport at any organized level - especially in football. so you are beyond stupid for suggesting otherwise.

secondly if all the managers who watched the game called it tactical brilliance who are you to argue otherwise? you know more than than capello or SAF about tactics then do you? as if...

OR maybe all you can do is wikipede stupid facts like 'cantenaccio' or regurgitate match reports from the websites and pass them off as your own analyses.

all you paks are so funny, don't have a CLUE about the tactics involved in defending well - the positioning decisions, covering decisions, over-lap decisions, cutting decisions, off-side trap training, tactical marking, zonal defending, the list is long. i stand by my point, you couldn't kick a tree if you saw one, let alone a football, but are adamant about knowing what constitutes tactics and what doesn't? give me a break.

and speaking of bandwagons, you can jump off your superiority-complex inflicted one, stop parroting others' analyses, come back down to earth and learn a little bit about what REAL football entails and then mouth off about loving and supporting a team.

karachikhatmal said...

@ Anon 1631

"the best commentators in any sport usually have had SOME exposure to that sport at any organized level - especially in football. so you are beyond stupid for suggesting otherwise."

i know wikipedia pisses you off, so you might want to just take my word for it, but john motson, the most recognized voice in football, never played football professionally. infact, usually the dumbest commentators are ex-players, since playing and explaining are not the same thing.

"positioning decisions, covering decisions, over-lap decisions, cutting decisions, off-side trap training, tactical marking, zonal defending,"

can you please provide any examples of what exactly was specific about mourinho's inter in terms of adopting this exhaustive list you have put out? three players went to cover messi - unheard of! they all held a deep line, and left milito out alone - how unique! they refused to press because they were a man down - what will these italians think of next?!

the only part where you are right is that i am being smug and bitchy through out this comment board, and even this comment itself. that's mainly because i am enjoying the flame war.

as far as the actual point goes, i repeat - playing deep against an attacking side with a man down is not a revolutionary new concept. its been used to death ever since football began, and infact its the predominant style of play in most places.

but sir, i just realised! as you know so much about tactics, clearly you are a premier league footballer, or perhaps even sir alex ferguson himself. how else would you know to speak with such impassioned eloquence about tactics unless you weren't a grand master yourself? i am humbled to have gone toe to toe with the red-nosed knight himself. thank you for gracing us with your presence, and teaching us not to talk about anything specific unless we have reached an international level of mastery over it.

Anonymous said...


lol. why would i explain defensive drill and/or tactics to you when clearly you would have no clue about what i'm talking about.

there are those who play, and those who don't play and they are in a different league.

you will never be able to appreciate exactly HOW technically difficult robbens goal(s) for bayern are. just like i might not truly appreciate how difficult some of inzi's well-timed shots were. we can admire the same, but understanding comes through experience. any dipstick knows that.

and even john motson played organized football at SOME level - which was my point to begin with. thanks for explaining it.

but don't beat yourself up over it, unless of course you are that way inclined...

karachikhatmal said...

@ Anon 1152

"but don't beat yourself up over it, unless of course you are that way inclined..."

hahaha - i still don't agree with you, but that had me laughing.