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Apr 24, 2008

Barcelona drew with Manchester United at camp NouThis match was billed as the pinnacle for attacking football, but fans of the beautiful game have to wait till the second leg to see attacking football at his best. Manchester United in form attacking line up was supposed to drub this Barcelona team, who are running into all kinds of trouble this season. English commentators were predicting Manchester United running riot through Barcelona lineup, but nothing of the sort happened. Ferguson might have opted for a attack oriented side in the form of Park, Tevez, Rooney and Ronaldo, but honestly he was only hoping to get out of Camp Nou with a goalless draw and got the same result. Rooney started in the midfield and Hargreaves started as full back. Manchester United still will be considered the favourite to go to the Finals as they are now playing the second leg at Old Trafford. But one thing this Barcelona side proved with their performance is that if there is a team who have the guts to play their natural style of football both away and at home, then that would be Barcelona Messi was pretty much closed down whenever he had the ball; this might make some English commentators ridicule his and the team's chances at Old Trafford. But honestly, Manchester United resembled the Greece side which won the Euro cup with close to nine players in and around the box almost every time. Manchester United is expected to play their natural game at Old Trafford which will leave tons of spaces for Messi and company to work with.

Rijkaard started with a front trio of Iniesta, Eto and Messi. The real surprises were the inclusion of Deco, who has not played since ages and Abidal, who had some bad performance prior to this one. In the preview to this match I have written that Messi may not be fully match fit, and I was proven right. Marquez also looked a bit of slackly throughout the match. But the biggest surprise was Deco, who in spite not playing for sometime, had a great day. But the best player for Barcelona was Yaya Toure, who for the second match had an absolute perfect night. Barcelona fans received the biggest scare in the 1st minute of the match when Manchester United was awarded a penalty when Ronaldo headed straight to the hands of Milito. That was a pretty harsh decision, but luckily for Barcelona, Christiano Ronaldo missed from the spot. That gave an early indication to Ronaldo of his night. In the early exchanges Barcelona looked bit rusty with Manchester united closing down effectively whatever space available. In the 9th minute Messi made a dangerous run from the right into the box, but his pass towards the centre could not find any team mate. Then in the 11th minute Messi was again involved in a short exchange of passes with deco and Iniesta, again Iniesta final ball to the centre was behind deco. In the 12th minute Van Der Sar made a mess up of a regulation clearance when he shot the ball directly at the path of Messi, but Messi could not make use of it. In the 13th minute Barcelona gets a free kick just outside the box, which Marquez hits straight at the wall. Then in the 23rd minute, Barcelona wasted another chance when no one could get to the end of an excellent Abidal cross. Manchester United were remaining quiet till Iniesta passed the ball to Ronaldo just outside, Ronaldo's excellent run into the box was blocked by Marquez, but the referee never gave the penalty. Honestly this was a better penalty shout than the first one. The rest of first half remain the same, with Manchester United blocking every Barcelona move. Barcelona won enough free kicks at real dangerous position but could not make the most of it. Deco and Xavi needs to practice more on this aspect. In the 44th minute Marquez got a yellow card for a rash challenge on Ronaldo and now misses the next leg.

The second half started with Barcelona firmly under control. Throughout the entire half Manchester hardly saw the ball. In the 48th minute Zambrotta's long range effort was tipped over by Van Der Sar. Barcelona had the best chance to go ahead in the 50th minute when a sliding tackle from Messi got the ball to Eto. Eto should have crossed immediately to Messi in the centre, instead he took time and allowed defenders to get back. Eto looked sharp through out the match, but appeared a bit slow. In the 51st minute Eto hits the side netting after a serious of short passes involving Iniesta, Messi, Deco broke the Manchester defense. In the 53rd minute, a rare counter attack from ManU ended with Carrick hitting the side netting. In the 62nd minute Bojan came in for Messi who looked a bit tired. In the last ten minute Rijkaard brought Henry in, Henry forced Van Der sar to make a decent save in the 83rd minute with a shot from outside the box. Then in the 88th minute Henry saw his free kick comfortably saved by Goal Keeper.
Manchester United now again starts as favourite in the second leg. But there are enough hopes left for Barcelona in that match. Barcelona can expect ManU to play their normal football which will leave spaces for Barcelona players to exploit. Messi and deco can be expected to be fully match fit by that night and Puyol will return back to the side. For Barcelona the second leg remain simple, they just have to win the match or get a goal scoring draw. This leg proves one thing the entire Europe still fears this Barcelona side, even though they have not played to their potential in ages.

HighLights of The Match

All About FC Barcelona is a Blog dedicated to the Most prestigous Club in the world, FC Barcelona by an ardent fan. Here I discuss about the Latest happening surrounding our Club and present my Views about the same.

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