Apr 30, 2008

Paul Scholed paid end to Barcelona's Champions League dreamsThis season definitely have to end like this - a great performance put forward but got kicked out of Champions League royally. A fourteenth minute screamer from Paul Scholes was enough to damn Barcelona to their second consecutive trophy less season. Paul Scholes might have done enough to end Rijkaard's career at Barcelona also. There is a sense of desperation among all the Barcelona fans, but honestly speaking we didn't deserve to win anything this season. Our team never looked committed or determined to do that. Barcelona had one change from their first leg - Puyol coming in for suspended Marquez. Manchester United was forced to drop Rooney, because of injury and bring on Tevez and that played a crucial part in the game. Nani also made into the starting eleven. In my preview to the Deportivo match, I have written that it would be good to give Messi more time on the field, I was proven right. Even though he had a great night, he could not gel properly with other players.

Barcelona looked more settled in the initial exchanges. Messi made an excellent run into the box in the first minute; Scholes has to commit a foul to stop him. Zambrotta was in total control of the Ronaldo situation, he never allowed Ronaldo any decent possession. But in the 14th minute Zambrotta robbed Ronaldo off the ball and made the biggest mistake of his life when he gave the ball away to Scholes. Paul Scholes, who have an history of creating goals from long range did not make any mistake there. I would say it was very unfortunate for Barcelona to concede that goal, any other day it would have sailed past the cross bar. After that as usual Barcelona panicked. Manchester United with all its claim of being the best attacking side in business started playing the English way - Get a goal some how and put eleven players in the box. In the 29th minute Puyol had to intervene to clear a Ronaldo header to safety. With the half time approaching Barcelona started to look once again settled. In the 38th minute Evra made a crucial intervention denying Eto a clear cut chance when Van Der Saar failed to hold on to Messi's cross.

Barcelona started the second half pretty much confidently. Some beautiful runs were made but none could pierce the Manchester defense. On the other end Valdez have to bring a decent save from Tevez. The rest of the half resembled Barcelona's effort at Nou Camp; could not pierce a packed ManU box, they were getting frustrated. Henry and Bojan were introduced but nothing changes the tide. In the end it can be said that Sir Alex's side were deserved to go through. They may not have played the beautiful football, but they played the effective football. But as for the question of "who is the best player in the planet now?” It looks like there is only one answer - Lionel Messi. He may not have scored the goal but that was mainly because his team mates never supported him.

Apr 29, 2008

Barcelona Training at Manchester UnitedBarcelona Training at Manchester UnitedHenryGestures-Barcelona Training at Manchester Uniteddeco & ZambrottaBarcelona Training at Manchester UnitedHenry,Eto,Xavi,Deco-Barcelona Training at Manchester UnitedMessi-Barcelona Training at Manchester UnitedMessi & Deco-Barcelona Training at Manchester UnitedMessi,Sylvinho-Barcelona Training at Manchester UnitedMilitolooksonasMessishowshisskills-Barcelona Training at Manchester Unitedsylvinho-Barcelona Training at Manchester UnitedBarcelona Training at Manchester UnitedBarcelona Training at Manchester UnitedVictorValdez-BarcelonaTrainingatManchester United

Apr 28, 2008

Barcelona vs Manchester UnitedBarcelona may repeat the same side which faced Manchester United at Camp Nou for the second leg tie at “The Theatre of Dreams". For once I expected the players who were not involved in the first leg, to push seriously for their inclusion in the match against Deportivo. Nothing of that sort has happened and Rijkaard in all probability start Bojan, Henry and Gudjonsen on the bench. The only change to the side will be Puyol coming back to strengthen the back four instead of Marquez who is suspended. The other players to miss out were Giovanni who is replaced by Edmilson, Ezquerra and Oleguer. Ronaldinho from club's explanation is injured and is automatically not selected. So the final squad list is Valdes, Pinto, Zambrotta, Thuram, Puyol, Milito, Abidal, Sylvinho, Edmilson, Toure Yaya, Deco, Iniesta, Xavi, Gudjohnsen, Bojan, Eto’o, Henry and Messi. Toure missed Sunday’s training session with a heavy bruise to his right ankle, but he is expected to make the line up for Tuesday.

Manchester United also have some injury concerns with Rooney and Vidic, both the players have to be substituted in the match against Chelsea. But both are expected to be fit for Barcelona match. After the first leg tie, everybody will be hoping that the second leg lives up to its expectation. Old Trafford is one of the toughest places to visit and when you consider Manchester United's form this season and Barcelona's this season, this could indeed turn up as a disaster for Barcelona. Amongst all these negatives Barcelona's performance in the first leg gives ample hope. Barcelona might find enough space to exploit at Old Trafford. But Barcelona's weakness in front of the goal could very well turn up to be a decisive factor. Another decisive factor is the lack of pace this season and it will become essential as we may not be that effective at counters. But again this could be the night of Messi, who along with Iniesta could conjure up a very memorable night.

Apr 26, 2008

Rijkaard has announced a squad without Messi, Xavi and Eto for the trip to Deportivo La Coruna. Add to this list the already suspended Milito and Iniesta, the entire team looks completely different from the one which did well against Manchester United. Rijkaard might have rested so many regulars with an eye on the second leg Champions League encounter against Manchester United. But Messi did look like a bit short on match practice and could have used to get into full swing in this game. Deco is expected to start in order to get more match practice, but mark my word Toure is expected to start on the bench along with Zambrotta.

In the absence of so many regulars, we can expect Bojan and Giovanni to start along with Henry upfront. Deco, Gudjonsen and Ezquerra might form the midfield. Deportivo is never an easy place to travel, especially taking into the fact that they managed to secure 22 points from their last nine matches. This could be weekend where Real Madrid officially wins the crown. For Barcelona getting a draw out of this match should be a great result. But they should be vary of the second place Villareal, and keep with them in the points tally for the automatic qualification spot.

Apr 25, 2008

Ferguson may have to look back to the tactics employed against BarcelonaAfter all the disappointment from a match which was billed as the final before the final, the soccer world has slowly started accepting the tactics used by Manchester United. Many sections of English press came up with praise to Ferguson's master tactic at Nou Camp; many sections are still openly criticizing him for a chance let gone. Barcelona's attack line up is being constantly ridiculed by the English press citing the fact that they could not conjure up a goal, even though they had more than 65% of possession. From a European Championship's perspective, Ferguson might have pulled out a master stroke. His entire pre match talks of how important the away goal was; served as a camouflage in itself. For Barcelona also the fact that they have not scored in the last two matches is a worrying factor.

But was Ferguson tactic right? It all depends on which ship you are in. But I have to agree with one fact - Ferguson might have let gone the best chance to destroy Barcelona. If you have watched the earlier exchange in the game, Barcelona team looked a bit nervy, shaky. That nervousness resulted in the free kick which ultimately earned the penalty kick. But Ferguson with his tactics allowed Barcelona time to settle down. Especially when you consider the Barcelona players - Deco never played for ages, Messi not fully match fit, Abidal was discarded for earlier matches; he should have been a little more adventurous. I thought the weak link in Barcelona defense, Marquez was never put under enough pressure by the Manchester side. If he has taken the risk to attack a bit more, they might have scored an away goal which would have made the second leg pretty easy.

Don't get me wrong here, ManU still start as absolute favourite in the second leg. But the problem for ManU will be that they need to win this, whereas Barcelona can go through with goal scoring draw. Ferguson has already vowed to attack Barca at Old Trafford. But whether he will surely do it is yet to be seen; especially considering the fact that a Barcelona goal could be disastrous. If Manchester United is going to play their natural game then Barcelona will definitely find spaces to exploit. How intimidating will be Old Trafford atmosphere, will be another factor which will decide the match. The last time Manchester United came up with a Goal less draw against Real Madrid, the return leg they lose 3-0.

Apr 24, 2008

Barcelona Team - Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legManU Team - Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legBarcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legDeco - Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legEto - Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legDeco - Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legEto - Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legEto - Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legEto and Tevez - Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legFerguson - Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legFerguson - Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legThierry Henry - Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legIniesta - Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legIniesta and Carrick - Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legMessi - Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legMessi - Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legMessi - Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legRijkaard - Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legRonaldo - Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legRonaldo - Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legRonaldo and Marquez - Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legRonaldo and Milito - Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legRonaldo - Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legRonaldo and Valdez- Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legRooney and Toure- Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legTevez and valdez - Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legXavi - Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legZambrotta and Evra - Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legZambrotta and Park - Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legZambrotta and Ronaldo - Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st legZambrotta and Ronaldo - Barcelona vs Manchester United UCL 1st leg

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