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Apr 7, 2010

FC Barcelona - 6, Arsenal - 3 on Aggregate
FC Barcelona booked their place in this season's UEFA Champions League Semi-Final against Inter Milan with a convincing 4-1 defeat of Arsenal at Camp Nou. Once again it was the night of the "Little Magician" from Rosario - Lionel Messi, who scored all the four goals for Barca. Arsenal took the lead with a goal from Bendtner, but was unprepared for what Messi had in hand for them. In the end it was yet another beautiful match between two of the most attractive sides in World football at this moment. Guardiola employed a 4-1-2-3 formation. I have to admit that I was quite worried about our full-backs getting exposed. As predicted by myself in the FC Barcelona vs Arsenal Preview, Marquez and Milito started in the centre of defense. Abidal was back doing his duty as a full back along with Alves. In front of the defense Busquets held the role of defensive midfielder. The midfield had Xavi and Keita in a narrow formation. And the attacking line-up had Bojan on the left, Messi on centre and Pedro on the right. Actually Messi sat a bit behind Pedro and Bojan.

FC Barcelona Starts the Game at a low tempo

FC Barcelona looked to have learn from the first leg and started the game in a very low tempo. The basic idea was to cut off any wide balls down the flanks. Arsenal also learned from their mistakes and was pressing very hard. Marquez throughout the game looked susceptible. Xavi was the outlet for all Barca move throughout the game. In the 4th minute Messi saw his shot palmed away by Almunia. In the 10th minute Pedro had a decent chance but he dragged his shot well wide. Barca were more interested in laying back and absorb the pressure, than attack from the onset. That tactic looked to have back fired when Bendtner fired Arsenal into a shock lead from a quick counter attack. In the 18th minute a great challenge from Diaby saw Milito losing possession (it looked like a foul at first), the ball was passed to Nasiri. Nasri passed the ball to Walcott who shockingly sent a poor pass to Bendtner which enabled Valdes to save the initial attempt but the rebound also fell to Bendtner and he didn't miss on that. But the pivotal moment in the match happened in the 20 th minute when Diaby on a counter attack failed to spot Walcott's run. If he had done that, it could have been easily 2-0 up. Arsenal was made to pay up for that mistake immediately in the next minute with Messi equalising. Messi received the ball from Pedro, tried to feed xavi on the box but the defense cut that out, but Sylvestre played the ball back to Messi who didn't need a second invitation before curing the ball into the goal. In the 32nd minute Alves free kick was saved by Almunia. In the next minute Barca broke on the counter which ended with Messi hitting the sidenetting. In the 37th minute Messi put Barca ahead with a move which was started by him and finished by him. Messi played a great ball to overlapping Abidal, Abidal's cross was poor as it was behind both Pedro and Bojan, Pedro tracked back and laid of the rebound to Messi, who got past Silvestre and clipped it over Almunia. That second goal looked to have unrattled Arsenal defense. The thrid goal came in the 42nd minute when Keita played Messi onside with a great header near half line. Messi set off on his run getting into the box, calmly chipping the ball above an advancing Almunia.In the 44th minute Messi had another great chance but his touch failed him in the box.

FC Barcelona Played Cautiously in the second half

Gaurdiola was hell bent in making sure that a repeat of first leg was not on the cards. We started pressing more in the second half giving less space for Arsenal to play with. There was a reluctance to atatck but the way we held onto possession was great. In the 49th minute Alves sent in a great cross which was just wide off a sliding Lionel Messi. In the 52nd minute Abidal was replaced following an injury with Maxwell. It looks like an harm-string injury. In the 55th minute Guardiola brought in Yaya Toure for bojan to shore up his defense. In the 60th minute Bendtner had a great chance but Milito did well to block that. Yaya Toure was struggling on introduction finding it difficult to settle into the formation. But soon he was back to his best. In the 72nd minute Pedro had a great chance after Messi played him on from a quickly taken free kick, but he shot wide. In the 82nd minute Messi sets off on another great run into the box, I lost the count of time he turned defenders inside out in that move but it was a shame that it didn't end up with a goal. In the 88th minute Messi sealed the game for Barca with his fourth goal of the night. Eboue played Messi onside, gets past Vermaelen but his initial shot was blocked by Almunia, but the rebound fell to Messi again and he made no mistake with that.

It was a great performance inspired by Lionel Messi. He has now became the top scorer for Barca in Champions League overtaking Rivaldo. We will now face Inter in the semi-final, a team whom we have already beaten this year. Xavi was simply awesome throughout the night, commanding ball like a General. Milito did very well with his job, eventhough it was his mistake that led to the goal. Marquez was pretty average at times and should have been in trouble. Bojan may not have anything special in terms of attacking display, but he worked really hard interchanging position with Messi and distributing ball well. Keita for me had a poor first half apart from the assist for the third goal, but worked really hard in the second half. Overall I have to say that I liked the way Guardiola approached the game. Eventhough the team's initial reluctance to attack could have hurt us, but that helped in making sure that we were not much tired at any time in the match. He did well with his substitution also, something unlike Guardiola. The only drawback on the night was the injury to Abidal.

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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