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Saturday, April 07, 2012

Barca Milan ... a tale of two cities

There are 3 parts to this debate -

1. Barcelona's performance - Oscar worthy. Defence is pretty rocky, though Mascherano intercepts well. Puyol is just a few games away from a downhill slide and Valdes is a shaky GK. No forwards of note and pretty bad finishing. Xavi on the verge of decline, Fabregas still a pretender. Busquets, Alves etc do the dirty work, but have lost their cutting edge. Iniesta playing with purpose and skill while Messi seems to be getting a little predictable as defenders mostly make him go around them, and try and nick the ball. Without Messi or Iniesta this team is far below the levels they were playing at a year or two ago.
2. Milan's performance - Thiago Silva, Mark Van Bommel, Zambrotta, Gattusso and Pato missing. So probably this was the best they could do. Seedorf, Nocerino, Boateng and even Robinho showed they belonged at this level, while Abbiati was the better GK by far. Tactically weaker game in second leg, as they should have relied on booting the ball upfield, since Ibra can hold up the ball well, and also Barca take their own sweet time in bring the ball forward. Mexes was not able to cut it while Nesta and Ambrosini faded away. They should take heart from their performance, as the only field goal Barca scored was from a lucky deflection that fell at the feet of Iniesta.
3. Referee's performance - As a neutral, his decision to award the 2nd penalty, spoilt the contest which was setup for a nervy tiki-taka vs italian defending stage. It would have been fun to watch, and wish he had made them retake the corner and maybe showed a few cards. Calling Robinho for handball was a cringeworthy moment, and exposed his bias clearly. Either he had lost patience with Milan, or was just giving everything the Barca protestors wanted...but for a 10-20 minute spell, he just lost it. Ruined a good match, after 3 halves of great football, which had left the match excitingly poised. UEFA should be answerable for their choice of referee for such a occasion.

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