Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Barcelona So Brilliant And Yet So Close To Elimination Due To Wastefulness

Such a controlling performance should have resulted in a more comfortable victory,'s Robin Bairner argues...

Barcelona may have dominated Tuesday night’s Champions League encounter against Arsenal, outplaying the Premier League side by an absurd factor, but they equally came within a whisker of elimination.

With less than five minutes remaining, the Gunners, who had been reduced to 10 men when Robin van Persie was shown a second yellow card and had failed to muster a shot on goal all evening, had their chance. Adriano was caught in possession and suddenly there was a clear path to goal. At this stage, the game was tipped in the favour of Barca, who had forged a 3-1 advantage, Sergio Busquets’ own goal giving the English outfit their goal, but such was the delicate positioning of the tie, a goal for the visitors would have propelled them into the quarter-finals. 

Suddenly, Nicklas Bendtner was bearing down on Victor Valdes’ goal, and an unlikely success was in sight for Arsene Wenger’s men. Had it not been for the Dane’s heavy touch, we might have been presently considering an Arsenal victory – quite incredible when the second leg is considered as a whole.

The home side were utterly controlling, threatening to touch 70 per cent of the possession even before taking the numerical advantage, and they also created a plethora of good openings, yet they scraped through to the last eight by a surprisingly narrow margin.

Some of the incisive attacking football Barca played was wonderful, but though it may sound churlish to criticise such a powerful display of passing, the Catalans were woefully inefficient when it came to converting chances.

On numerous occasions home forwards breached Arsenal’s rearguard, which couldn’t match the clever movement and incisive passing of their hosts. Indeed, the Catalans mustered a total of 19 shots on the visiting goal. While a return of three goals from so many openings is around par, Pep Guardiola should be concerned about the regular wastefulness in and around the box when promising positions were manufactured.

All too often la Blaugrana aimed to embellish their play by beating an extra player or by completing an extra pass, which looks wonderfully artistic when it comes off, but there can be little doubt that it cost them goals, and therefore security, on Tuesday evening due to its sheer inefficiency.

Lionel Messi’s opening strike was no simple affair, for example, as he touched the ball over Manuel Almunia before volleying home. 

But while this moment of genius worked to great effect, there were several other clear-cut scoring opportunities that were squandered simply because of the home side’s desire to add a touch of flair to their play.

Swashbuckling full-back Dani Alves had a glorious opening to finally kill the tie off moments before Bendtner’s fateful chance, but the Brazilian attempted to slide a pass across the goal to Messi, weighting the ball too hard and seeing the chance disappear in an instant.

The Argentine also showed a regular desire to carry the ball by an extra defender when a shooting chance presented itself, as if scoring simple goals is now too mundane a task for a player of his stature. Such situations were commonplace throughout the night, but most pertinently in the second half, when the tie was not yet won.

It’s one thing to entertain the supporters when cruising on the scoreboard, it’s another entirely to do likewise when nothing is wrapped up.

Barca were close to paying a heavy, and somewhat unjust, price for their showmanship in midweek, but their late scare against the Gunners should serve as a reminder to Guardiola and his side as to the fickle nature of two-legged European ties and the fragility of even the best sides in knockout competition. Against more defensively astute opponents, such complacency cannot be afforded.


Raji berkata said...

aww pity for Arsenal T.T

Nurfazilah Cipa said...

cipa dtg bwk awrd..amek tau


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