Champions League Semifinal – Barcelona vs Inter Milan

Champions League Semi final Barcelona vs Inter Milan 2nd Leg, 28th April, 2010

This game promised to be a thriller, with the Spanish and Italian champions battling it out for a place in the finals of the Champions League. Barcelona’s captain Carlos Puyol was out of this game, which meant Gabriel Milito would be starting in his place. And leading the Inter Milan’s attack was his real brother Diego Milito. This was one of the rare occasions when the 2 brothers were facing each other. Inter Milan were going into the game with a 3-1 home win against Barcelona from the 1st leg. It meant for Barcelona that to qualify for the finals they needed to win this match by 2-0.

The game started well for Barcelona and they were in their rhythm in no time. They were keeping the possession well and did not let Milan play till first 15 minutes. Such was their passing and attack. However, for all the possession Barca had, Milan were determined enough to not let Barcelona get the breakthrough. Their defence was well organised and planned by their coach Jose Mourinho, who had earlier in the tournament helped Milan knock out Chelsea FC. Barcelona continued to play the ball in the midfield, with Xavi and Messi looking threatening and creating chances. In the 20th minute, Xavi carried the ball forward from midfield and looked for Ibrahimovic who was free in space behind Milan’s defence. However, Xavi’s final pass was intercepted by Milan defender. In the very next minute, Barcelona had another chance, when Ibrahimovic chested down a cross from Alves, in box towards Xavi. But Xavi was not given enough time by Milan defence to make something out of it. Good defending by Milan.

The match looked like a simple practice session, with one team – Barcelona doing all the attack, and Inter Milan only defence. In 23rd minute, Alves crossed the ball in for Pedro. But Pedro’s shot on volley was just a couple of yards wide of the post. Inter Milan occasionally had a few half chances through Eto’o, but none of them were good enough to really worry Barca defence.

The real shock to Inter came in 27th min when Thiago Motta was shown a straight red card by the referee for a foul on Pedro. However, it was a horrible decision as the replay clearly showed that there was not much contact, and also that Pedro went to ground very dramatically. One of the cameras even showed that Pedro was looking up to see whether the referee would show card to Motta or not. Pedro had acted well enough for the referee to produce a red card form his pocket, and Milan were now left to 10 men, with over an hour to go in the game.

It meant that Milan’s first leg advantage would not have much weight now as Barcelona had to score only 2 goals against them (reduced to 10 men). However Milan did not looked much disturbed in their play, and all Milan players were now in defence, trying to protect their 1st leg lead.

The game opened up for Barca. Messi was looking threatening, but like in the 1st leg he was very tightly man marked by Milan players which did not allow him much time on ball whenever it was played to him. He however created one brilliant chance, dribbling past 3-4 defenders and then taking a shot on goal from outside the box. It was a great shot, but it was saved by a finger tip save from Milan keeper Julio Cesar, and the ball went out for a corner.

Ibrahimovic had a chance in 39th minute, but his shot on goal was blocked by a diving tackle from a Milan defender. Barcelona were awarded a free kick from around 35 yards from goal in the 43 min when Messi was fouled on his run by Chivu. Ibrahimovic, former Milan forward, stepped up to take the shot from long distance. It was a good shot and missed the goal by not much distance

Half time score 0-0.

The 2nd half started and soon Barcelona switched to more attacking play looking for their opening goal. It went on for the next 20 minutes or so that Barca were continuously looking to penetrate Milan back line and waves of attack came one after the other. But even with 1 man less Milan were rock solid in defence, and it forced Barcelona to switch their play form small passes to long balls and crosses form the flanks. After 70 mins gone, the match stats were –

Barcelona Milan Possession – 73% 27% Passes Completed – 455 59

Yet, the score line was still 0-0. Barcelona started to look a bit anxious, and knew that if they did not score soon enough, they might well be out of the tournament. This resulted in them creating better chances. In 82nd min Messi crossed a ball in towards Bojan, but he missed a free header from inside the small box. What a miss! It sure should have been Barcelona’s 1st goal. The goal finally came for Barca in 84th minute when Xavi found Pique in box from a though ball. The Barca defender showed great composure to finish the move and put the ball in Milan’s net. Score line 1-0. With almost 10 mins left, the game was on. Barca needing one more goal to get through to finals! Xavi and Messi both had shots on goal in the dying minutes of the game, but both were saved by the Milan goal keeper. Bojan found the back of the net for Barca in the added time, and they were through to the finals! But to Barca’s dismay, the goal was disallowed as the linesman thought Bojan was offside and raised his flag. Goal disallowed. The game finished soon, and it was Milan who had held their nerve with 1 man less, to win 3-2 on aggregate and qualify for the finals. They will be facing Bayern Munich on 22nd May for the finals in Madrid.