Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Barça impress and take away point (0-0)


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Barça impress and take away point (0-0)

Jordi Clos

Barça have got their Champions League title defence off to a fine start with a draw away to Inter Milan, but on chances created, were probably worth the win.

Barça have no teams to fear in this competition. Last season in the Champions League they came away from such places as Lyon, Munich and Stamford Bridge before winning in Rome. And this season they have come away with a thoroughly deserved point at the Giuseppe Meazza.

The first half was a lively affair, with chances falling to both sides, but FCB were clearly the better side in the second. At times, Inter were pegged back defending in their own area, and a bit more luck in front of goals and Barça could have easily have returned from Italy with all three points.

Trademark football

Both sides fielded as strong a side as they could. And it was the finest player in last season’s Champions League, Leo Messi, who was the first to appear with a slaloming first minute run topped off with a shot that Julio César did well to save. That came on a counter attack, with Inter opting to match Barça’s possession based game.

Barça impose themselves

Barça also enjoyed the second chance, in the 7th minute, where Ibrahimovic, motivated by the jeering from his former fans, found himself one on one with Julio César but his strike went wide. Then a dangerous header from Messi –playing as a false centre forward- was further evidence of why Barça won the trophy last year. Maicon then issued a tenth minute warning that there were two teams on the park, and the pace of the game slowed down. It was at this point that we started seeing the best of Xavi.

Clash of giants

Pressure from Inter’s forwards, and especially Eto’o, made it hard to get the ball out, and there were signs of discomfort among Guardiola’s charges. Milito (min 28) and Sneijder (min 32) both issued further warnings, but Barça still had it in them to produce further danger before the half was out. Keita came close when spotting a gap in the Inter defence, and Messi’s low drive was turned away by Julio César. This was high voltage stuff – a fascinating duel between two of the best teams in the world.

Differing responses

Both sides returned after the break as hungry for victory as before. Sneijder and Ibra both enjoyed goalscoring opportunities, but most of the action was in Inter’s half. Barça pushed forward patiently, playing the ball to feet but perhaps not quite as fast as they usually do. Inter went for a more direct approach, with Stankovic almost scoring with a splendid effort in the 65th minute.

Firing the final rounds

Barça, with incommensurable displays from both centre backs, Puyol and Piqué, gained ground, and by the end of it, Inter almost seemed content to settle for a draw. Barça had them under siege in their own area, where Messi missed from point blank range following a crafty cross from Henry (min 73). Immediately after, Alves made a penalty claim for what looked like handball by Stankovic. Iniesta came on towards the end, but failed to do anything to prevent the game from ending as it had begun, but ultimately, a draw at the Giuseppe Meazza is a result Barça can feel very happy with.

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