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Snore draw or interesting tactical battle?

April 24, 2008

The neutrals have no doubt. “Flop. Fear wins at the Nou Camp” was Gazzetta dello Sport’s view from Italy of the 0-0 draw between Barcelona and Manchester United in Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s early penalty soaring well wide of the goal summed up the whole night, with Barca pressing hard but failing to find that extra bit of inspiration to break the deadlock.

But can we expect anything more when the prize is so huge? Games in the previous two rounds such as Liverpool v Arsenal were surprisingly open given the importance of the Champions League these days.

Liverpool 3 AC Milan 3 in 2005 was a rare example of a great final. How may good World Cup finals have their been?

Players are only human and nerves at this stage are bound to play a part. That doesn’t mean games have to be dull for the purists. Liverpool 1 Chelsea 1 on Tuesday was not a classic but watching players stick to their positions and Rafa Benitez barking out tactical instructions still made it interesting.

Maybe the Italians, famous for their ultra conservative approach to soccer,  are just bitter Serie A teams have performed so poorly in the Champions League this term. 

Mark Meadows, Milan

Comments

Snore draw, but United did what they had to do under the circumstances.

They’re playing what amounts to 3 finals in 7 days. Firt leg yesterday, Chelsea Saturday and the return leg on Tuesday. So they were forced to sit back for 65-70 minutes yesterday and absorb everything Barca threw their way. Which they did. Well. Barca dominated the ball, but only created 3-4 moments of real danger. With 15-20 min left, United actually decided to play.

I imagine they’ll play to win against Chelsea and then throw everything they have at Barca when they play at Old Trafford.

Had Ronaldo scored, they would have been elated to escape with an away goal, but they have to like their chances of beating any team in the world at Old Trafford.

(No, I’m not a United supporter either)

 

Liverpool vs Chelsea = exciting.

Barca vs Man U = Boring.

Why?

The Liverpool-Chelsea game had the fabulous atmosphere, it was played at a frantic pace, it had tension, it had some fantastic defensive displays (Javier Mascherano is a joy to watch). Oh, and it had a couple of goals.

The Barca-Man U game had a missed penalty, had a couple of nice flicks by Messi, and, err, that’s about it! The game was played at a snails pace. For all their passing Barca had no penetration at all, and Utd didn’t even bother turning up.

The return legs will both have plently of tension and suspense, which is about as much as you can hope for in a semi-final.

I’m hoping for a Barca-Liverpool final, as an all english affair will be dour, and for some reason Liverpool always seem to do exciting finals (4-3 against Alaves, 3-3 against Milan, and 3-3 against West Ham).

 

Barca were great. They have problems with finishing, yes. But they deserved a 1-0 win.

 

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