And we played a certain demon…
And his name is Leo Messi, the current world player of the year and overwhelming favourite to retain his crown. I must confess I had a slight fever after yesterday’s showing not because of the result but because I just watched a team that made us play and defend like a Sunday League team. I saw a man, a footballer at the heights of his powers run the show like no one else was involved. Last night’s defeat was partly due to our inability to keep and pass the ball well, but mostly due to the sheer brilliance and ineffable genius on display.
With our mounting injury worries, we couldn’t have picked a worse time and place to play the world best team. Frankly, even if we had all our players fit, Barcelona are still favourites but we definitely stood an outside chance with a team that had no Cesc, RVP, Gallas, Song, Arshavin and even Campbell. Even Vela supposedly lost his passport and did not travel with the team, so we ahd no choice but to put out a team of Almunia, Clichy, “Silvestre”, TV5, Sagna, Denilson, Diaby, Samir, Theo, Rosicky and Nikky B. Barca were missing players too, Ibra, Puyol, Pique were missing and Iniesta was returning from injury. With the way the first leg ended 2-2, we needed to take our chances and defend resolutely but we did neither of those yesterday.
The game started the same way the first leg had started only that this time we were closing them down better and putting in decent tackles. The Barcelona players dived on series of occasions yesterday and won some cheap freekicks. In the first leg, Theo used his pace to amazing effect and we got a repeat of that when Diaby won the ball of a clumsy Milito and slid in Theo who was all alone. Theo squared a poor ball through to Nikky B who managed to hit the target on second attempt. I went hysteric! I could not belive my eyes…Barca 0-1 Arsenal the scoreboard read. Our lead would not last long though as we were quickly reminded who and what we were up against.
Messi who had earlier fizzed a shot wide got a break in the defence after the ball came off Silvestre and he put all in his emotion into a well-struck shot. Almunia had no chance in the world to keep that out. We had to score again but it was the home team who looked on the ascendancy and got their goal when a Pedro pass in the box was well controlled by El Mesias and lifted over a helpless Almunia. Nothing had changed, we still needed a goal. Some moments of defensive madness led to Messi been given a clear run on goal and he duly lobbed Almunia who was again let down by his defence. 3-1 and game over I thought. Half time came with the home team greatly dominating everything, from passes to corners, shots and of course goals.
We started the 2nd 45 minutes the way we started the first, harrying them whenever they had the ball. We were going through a good spell but just didn’t have the cutting edge to give a telling pass. Nasri who replaced Cesc in the middle wasn’t having the best of games. Bar a Bendtner chance which Milito swiftly cleared, the closest we came was a Bendtner header which was offside anyway.We continued to pass the ball without actually hurting Barcelona but towards the end of the match, they sensed the need for another goal and held possession for quite some time before Iniesta who had come on for Pedro released Messi. Messi dribbled Eboue, TV5, and Clichy before having his shot saved by Almunia who punched the ball back to him. On second attempt, the little demon fired in between Al’s legs to comlete the demolition. It was only a few minutes before the referee saved us from our misery.
We were well and truly beaten, no doubt but at least we should have given a good account of ourselves. Personally I feel we played better yesterday but some players just were not up to par. Rosicky was hugely disappointing and made no meaningful contribution. Nasri did not do well enough, he kept the ball too much and disrupted our passing game. Silvestre is a no go area for me. The other players were not excellent though but they had their moments, only Clichy and Sagna stood out last night.
So Arsene says we need to forget about this defeat and focus on our next game which happens to be against the spuds. I see this as no problem since the match is on Wednesday next week and the boys will have had enough time to reflect on what was a disappointing night. I feel if we get our acts right and the boys back, we should get the 3 points we need. I was not too sad after the game because unlike the games we lost against United and Chelsea this season, we were well and truly beaten in all ramifications, and we were beaten by a better footballing side with a player who plays football like he invented it. I just can help loving this lad!
It’s in the past now and all we have to focus on now is the league. It’s a tall order, but it’s still within reach. All we have to do while hoping both United and Chelsea falter is destroy our five remaining opponents…starting with the wank*rs down the road.
From wherever you are reading, have fun.
9jabred says so!