Barcelona is out of the Champions League. Mourinho laid a defensive trap, and even with 10 men for 60 minutes, Barcelona could not beat the trap. The game ended 1-0 with an 83rd minute goal from Pique but Barcelona couldnt muster the 2nd goal they needed to win the tie.
Ibrahimovic cut a forlorn figure for most of the game and got substituted in the 2nd half. Barcelona brought him to make a decisive impact against defensive walls like the one mounted by Mourinho's Inter. But I dont he deserves all the blame. This is his first year in Spain and Barcelona, and he has scored in key games during the season. I suspect that the rest of the Barça squad is not trying enough to adapt to his style, his weaknesses and strengths. I dont believe he is as poor as he seemed in the 2 legs of this tie.
Another interesting aspect of this game was that Barcelona did not win many freekicks in dangerous positions eventhough Inter was defendig very very deep, practically in front of the box. Credit goes to the defensive scheme of Mourinho and more importantly the tactical discipline shown by the players of Inter. That Inter didnt have a shot on goal or anywhere near a goal is a telling stat. But today they didnt need to. They did their scoring in the first leg.
I think Inter X Bayern will be a very good final. I hope it is a more open game that what we saw today.
As for Barcelona, they are back to the drawing board. I think if Pep Guardiola has a weakness, it is his penchant to tinker with formations in key games. the 3-4-3 with Toure Yaya as the 3rd centerback and Alves and Busquets on the wing didnt work very well. Everytime Messi touched the ball there were 3 defenders closing him down. Only Pedro was stretching the field for the first hour or so. The entrance of Bojan in place of Ibra increased the threat of a goal but Barcelona simply couldnt create enough chances on goal despite of the numerical advantage.
As the Madrid daily "AS" puts it "Cibeles sleeps peacefully" Cibeles is the plaza where the Madrid fans celebrates their titles.
Quick Stats that come to my mind
- Barcelona, over the past 5 years won 2 European cups and made it to 4 semifinals.
- There are atleast 7 ex-La Liga players in these two finalists this year and most of the players are from either Barcelona (Motta, Etoo) or Madrid(Robben Sneijder, Cambiasso,Samuel) andMilito(Zaragoza)
- Inter as well as Bayern are on track for a Treble and if they achieve the treble they are on track for the 6-tuple, like Barça did last year. hmm Who would have thought about that 9 months ago :)