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Apr 13, 2011

Clinical Barca seal Semi-Final spot

FC Barcelona finished off the good work they did in the first leg with a 1-0 victory against Shaktar at the Donbass Arena. In an arena, where many of the Europe's finest struggled, Barca produced a very efficient display to book their place in yet another Champions League semi-final and an aggregate score of 6-1. Lionel Messi has started a new goal scoring streak scoing in the second consecutive match. Let's all hope he carries on with the streak for the next two to three weeks atleast. Guardiola was taking Shaktar very seriously and decided against resting any of his major stars. Victor Valdes was back in goal. Busquets and Pique formed the centre of defense with Alves and Adriano playing the full back role. I expected Milito to start as I very much expect him to start against Real Madrid. The midfield had Mascherano, Xavi and Keita. The front trio was made up of Villa, Messi and Afellay. Meanwhile Shaktar also didn't have their normal defensive line availabe - Chygrynskiy, Srna, Kucher and Razvan Rat all were our for this tie.

The opening exchanges was a bit tentative from both sides. Shaktar was the first to create some threat. In the 8th minute Valdes has to make a very good save to deny Douglas Costa and Mascherano did the cleaning up job. Shaktar slowly was taking control of the game with sharp passing and for once we looked more inclined to site back. In the 22nd minute Xavi tried a long range effort which can only be termed as hopeful and as expected that went high and wide. Incidently that was our first meaningful shot, ofcourse off the target. In the 24th minute Jadson tested Valdes with a weak effort but what was worrying was our marking. Jadson was unmarked with seven Barca players inside the box, that was unacceptable. In the 28th minute blasted a great effort at the goal but it was too close to the keeper. In the 31st minute Afellay slipped the ball to the left spotting an overlapping run by Adriano and his shot was somehow saved by keeper.

In the 32nd minute Messi produced the most sublime play of the match when he lifted the ball to get past the defender but as in the first leg once again tried to dink the ball over the keeper. This guy is too tall to beat like that. In the 42nd minute Afellay received the ball from xavi cut inside on the left and then smashed the ball straight at the goal and it took some save to deny it. But the keeper couldn't deny Messi a minute later when Messi beaten him to put Barca ahead. The move was started by the little man himself. He passed the ball to Alves on the right, Alves passes it back spotting run of Messi, then as usual he skipped past one challenge and almost caught three defenders dead and finished the move, that's easy. In the th minute Jadson forced a good save from Valdes off a free kick. With an aggregate of 6-1 we were seriously thinking about Real Madrid going to the break. The first half was brilliant - we absorbed the early pressure from Shaktar and almost after the half an hour mark took full control of the game.

Since the match was dead and buried by half time, we didn't expect any much fun in the second half. But that wasn't the case. Shaktar came out to go with one big bang and started the game exactly like the first half. But soon we moved into our "Keep The Ball" style and Shaktar was seeing very less of the ball. In the 58th minute Lionel Messi went in a scincilating run then slipped the ball to Afellay, whose wonderful curler was kept out by an outstanding goal keeping work. The rebound fell to Alves who could only blast high off an open goal. In the 70th minute Guardiola brought in Milito for Pique, that's definitely is focused on the Clasico. Milito in the very next minute earned a yellow card for a rather stupid challenge, it looked like he slipped but was totally out of position there also. In the 74th minute Vcitor Valdes made a one handed save to deny Shaktar the equaliser with a blinder against a good shot from Mkhitaryan. Guardiola immediately took off Villa and brought in Jeffren. In the 80th minute Pedro had a shot high off the bar after some excellent skills by Messi in the box. In the build up to that game, Messi once again tried to chip over the keeper; he looked determined to out-chip Pyatov.

There is only one word to describe this performance - EFFICIENT. We absorbed the early pressure from Shaktar, then took control of the game, got the goal and then continued to control the match. Guardiola got his tactics absolutely right. I was expecting him to start with Milito in the defense but he started with busquets instead. Busquets and Mascherano immediately switched position in defense and midfield and Mascherano looked a much better choice as a centre-back. Lionel Messi for many would be the Man Of The Match in this game, but if you ask me I would pick Javier Mascherano ahead of him. Messi was brilliant but Mascherano was so crucial in absorbing all what Shaktar could offer. Victor Valdes once again produced some brilliant saves at the right time. Other than that everyone else played their part very efficiently. You cannot single out anyone for a poor performance. Many Villa detractors could argue that Villa had a bad game, but he contributed so much to the team - at times dropping deep even into our box to defend. Now with this match done with, we can all shift our focus to the series of clashes against real Madrid.

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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