Barcelona 1-0 Inter: Mourinho’s side progress – deservedly

April 29, 2010

Jan Brueghel the Elder. Orpheus in the Underworld
“There are times when the hype about Jose Mourinho is frustrating and cliched, there are times when it is fully deserved. Tonight was the latter in one of the great defensive performances in recent footballing history. Barcelona reverted to their ‘traditional’ 4-3-3 they had persisted with until recently, with a midfield trio of Busquets-Keita-Xavi, Yaya Toure in defence, and Gabriel Milito surprisingly pushed out to left-back. Pedro Rodriguez stayed wide-left, Lionel Messi cut in from the right, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the striker.” (Zonal Marking)

Barcelona 1 Inter Milan 0; agg 2-3: match report
“Even the Nou Camp sprinklers set at geyser strength couldn’t douse Jose Mourinho’s fire. Even the combined technical might of Lionel Messi and Xavi couldn’t overcome opponents organised so brilliantly by the Special One. Even the loss of Thiago Motta to a red card and loss of a goal to Gerard Piqué couldn’t perturb composed, calculating Inter. Homage to Catalonia? No chance. Mourinho scripted the reverse.” (Telegraph – Henry Winter)

Barcelona v Inter Milan: Jose Mourinho hails ‘most beautiful defeat of my life’
“A 1-0 second-leg defeat could not prevent dogged Inter, leading 3-1 from the San Siro, heading to the May 22 final against Bayern Munich. Mourinho even received congratulatory texts from his old Chelsea friends.” (Telegraph – Henry Winter)

FC Barcelona 1-0 Inter Milan – Unbreakable Inter far from Wile E. Coyote
“Do you remember the Looney Tunes cartoons, and the scene that always takes place in which the ‘baddie’ character overruns a cliff but grabs onto a branch and clings on for dear life, sweat dripping, slowly losing his grip as he stares ominously down at a shark tank or bear pit or similar great peril? That, to me, symbolised Inter Milan against FC Barcelona at Camp Nou tonight. And while Inter hung on desperately, we watched – nervous, tense, enthralled – waiting to see if they would hang onto that branch, somehow, and clamber back to safety, or if they would eventually tire, arms weary from the struggle, and plunge helplessly into the abyss.” (Just Football)

Barca in need of a Plan B
“It is hard to criticise a team who have scored 83 goals in La Liga this season for lacking the firepower to see them through but, against Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan, reigning European champions Barcelona showed that their fluid attacking style has weaknesses. After the heights of the sextuple last year, this season’s Barcelona had a lot to live up to, but the decision to sell Samuel Eto’o to their eventual conquerors in Europe could be one that comes back to haunt them.” (ESPN)

Barcelona dethroned by resilient Inter
“An immense display of intelligent defending and sheer determination took FC Internazionale Milano into the European Champion Clubs’ Cup final for the first time since 1972, ending FC Barcelona’s hopes of becoming the first team to defend the UEFA Champions League.” (UEFA)

Champions League: Inter Milan Holds On
“ITV pundit Clive Tyldesley likes to invoke ‘magical nights’ in Barcelona whenever he gets the chance (even when he’s commentating on a fourth-round FA Cup tie between Blackpool and Stoke). But his patented tagline actually fits the occasion today. It’s the second leg of Barcelona and Inter Milan’s Champion’s League semifinal from Camp Nou in Barcelona.” (WSJ)

FC Barcelona 1-0 Inter Milan (Internazionale) – Recap and Video Highlights – Champions League – Wednesday, April 28, 2010
“The UEFA Champions League finished its semifinal round on Wednesday, April 28, 2010 with the second leg of FC Barcelona v Inter Milan aka Internazionale. Inter Milan held a 3-1 lead after the first leg at the San Siro but would have to try and hold Barcelona at the Camp Nou. The winner would move onto the final to play Bayern Munich in the final in late May.” (The 90th Minute)

Tactics: Van Gaal crafts a very modern Bayern

April 29, 2010

“Rarely can a team have qualified for a Champions League final as easily as Bayern Munich did against Lyon. ‘Has anyone seen a Champions League semi-final?’ asked one wag in the Stade Gerland media centre after Tuesday’s hopelessly one-sided semi-final return leg. ‘I was told there’d be one here but I couldn’t see it.’ Comprehensively outplayed in both legs, Lyon’s limp performance over the tie was an appalling advertisement for French football and in the grim post mortem of the after-match analysis there was no disguising the simple fact that Claude Puel’s side had been beaten by a far superior team. Time and again in his post-match press conference, a shell-shocked Puel returned to the theme of Bayern’s remarkable physical capacities.” (Football Further)

England World Cup History

April 29, 2010

Scientist – Wins the World Cup (1982)
“Before I start typing this, and before you start reading, I should ‘fess up that I’m an England fan. Hopefully I’m not too biased and can write a post about the World Cup history of England in an objective manner. Even when discussing the events of 1966 and 1986. But I thought it was only fair to warn you before we get started. The England football team is the joint oldest in the world, with he first international match being between England and Scotland in 1870. So England should have loads of World Cups, right? Unfortunately, England didn’t play at their first World Cup until 1950 Why? Mostly arrogance. England left FIFA in 1928 (two years before the first World Cup) and didn’t rejoin until 1948. So the Three Lions managed to miss the first three World Cup tournaments, which means we pick up the story in 1950.” (World Cup Blog – Part I, 1950 – 1970)), (World Cup Blog – Part II, 1982 – 2006)

Carlos Carmona could be a player to watch in South Africa

April 29, 2010

“Praise has flooded in for coach Marcelo Bielsa for leading Chile to the World Cup finals in such convincing and attractive style – and rightly so. The Argentinian has clearly done an exceptional job, inheriting a squad in some disarray following the 2007 Copa America and moulding them into a side considered by some to be dark horses in South Africa.” (World Soccer – Tim Vickery)

Grays Athletic 2-1 Forest Green Rovers

April 29, 2010

“All of the decisions at the top of the Blue Square Premier table have already been made, but the final day of the season brings an intriguing battle to avoid relegation from the league and the most poignant of the fixtures is the one at The Recreation Ground, Bridge Road, Grays. As football venues go, The Recreation Ground is a pretty unprepossessing one. When the club somersaulted into the Blue Square Premier five years ago new terraces were built at either end of the ground and small covered enclosures popped up in front of the flats that run the length of side of the pitch. In spite of these developments, The Recreation Ground, hemmed in by buildings on all four sides, remained a defiantly non-league ground in a league that has started to assume many of the pretentions of professionalism over the last few years.” (twohundredpercent)

‘World Class’ World Cup a Difficult Proposition for African Fans

April 29, 2010

“With only 43 days to go before the start of the World Cup, the head of the South African organizing committee said Wednesday that the host country’s infrastructure is superior to any previous tournament host; the stadiums are pristine; and the country is ready to welcome more than 370,000 visitors for the biggest party in the world.” (NYT)