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Mar 2, 2008

Last time when Barcelona visited Athletico, they thrashed the host by a whooping six goals. How ironic was the fact that yesterday's match also produced six goals; more ironic would be that Barcelona found at the receiving end of four of them. Athletico has done their city rivals a big favour by extending their lead to five points. The entire match was a case of Barcelona surprising themselves with the stupid rotation policy, anyway i will come back to that later. Barcelona started the match with Eto on the right, Ronnie on centre and Henry on left. Edmillson miserably tried to fill in the foot of Yaya.

Barcelona started the game as clear favourite, they were in total control and Athletico looked like a completely confused outfit. They controlled the first hjalf but could not create any clear chances. Eto found the net after ten minutes only to be judged offside. There was no understanding between the forwards and it was majorly due to the facts that Eto was playing out of his position. It took an unbelievable effort from Ronaldinho to break the deadlock. In the 29th minute Ronaldinho produced a beauty of an overhead kick from a Xavi cross to take Barcelona into the lead. Athletico could not mustrer a decent effort in reply of this till a harmless Aguera shot which would have gone wide was deflected into the goal by Puyol. That was the stroke of luck Athletico needed. Then in the 42nd minute Aguera produced a good ball to Maxi past Abidal and Milito, which Maxi put into the far corner to take the lead. Victor Valdes should have comfortably saved that.

The second half started with Aguera leading the Athletico charge. They should have gone 3-1 earlier but Aguera hit the sidenetting. In the 61st minute Puyol gave away a cheap penalty and Forlan took his side 3-1 up. In between Eto failed to pull one back when he failed to turn in a corner into the goal. Barcelona paid for it when Aguera curved one back past Valdes to take the lead to 4-1. Barcelona shortly pulled one back with Eto scoring after a Iniesta picking Gudjonsen's run and the rebound fell into Eto. Barcelona had chances to equalise both Gudjonsen and Eto missed on easy chances towards the end.

As I mentioned in the preview of this match, the decision to rest Yaya would be the major factor. For me that along with one more decision was responsible for the defeat. Yaya's replacement Edmilson had a crap game and that did not help, he was majorly responsible for the second goal when he failed to close in Maxi. But the major stupid decision would be using Eto at right. Rijkaard like Benitez looks like has a complete disregard to the basics of the game. Football still remains a simple game, You use specialist people at specialist position. Eto is the only centre forward in the team and not using him at his favourite position destroyed the team. That confused the entire team as Ronaldinho played a little back in the pocket for most time and Iniesta and Xavi had no idea to whom they should pass. Its time Rijkaard stop using this stupid rotation policy and stick to a tried eleven. Yaya is a must in most of important game, and the combination of forwards is simple. Eto always should start as centre forward , either henry or Ronnie plays at the left and Messi , bojan or Giovanni plays in the right.

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