Camp Nou, Barcelona
April 28, 2010
How often in the last two seasons, has a team taken on the mighty Barcelona team on its own terms, and yet came out strong winners at the end? Every team that has taken on Barcelona either stuck to a completely defensive game plan focused on stopping the Catalans from playing their normal game or tried going toe-to-toe with them and were simply blown away in the process. Jose Mourinho answered all his critics by producing a tactical master-class which left the Barcelona team look average. However, Mourinho and Inter also know that it is only half time. Barcelona have enough quality in their ranks to overturn the 1-3 deficit and run out clear winners at the end.
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST
The last two Champions League games played at the Nou Camp, produced 4-0 and 4-1 wins for the home team – margins good enough to knock Inter out. History also says that the two previous times Barcelona lost the first leg by margin of 3-1, they came back strongly to win the tie. But Jose Mourinho likes to shape history.
The two teams were paired with each other in group stages itself, in what was billed as the group of death. Barca had the slightest edge in a goalless draw at the San Siro, while the game at the Nou Camp produced a comprehensive 2-0 win for Barcelona team minus both Messi and Ibrahimovic. Barcelona might take heart from this result as a similar scoreline will be enough to take them through.
Recent Form : WLDWWW
Recent CL Form : LWDWDW
Barcelona rested a few players for the weekend game against La Liga Basement boys Xerez. Yet the team ran out comfortable 3-1 winners. Iniesta is still out with an injury, while Puyol is suspended after picking up a yellow in previous game. Gabriel Milito is expected to slot in the Center Back role and will be expected to shackle his elder brother Diego who is in red hot form. Pep might also start Yaya Toure instead of Busquets, since the latter hasn’t been in great form.
TheHardTackle’s Predicted line up: Valdes – Alves – Milito – Pique – Abidal – Xavi – Yaya – Keita – Pedro – Messi – Ibrahimovic
TheHardTackle’s Player to Watch Out:
The reigning World Player of the Year Lionel Messi has had an uncharacteristically quiet few games. The law of averages dictate that he should come good soon and this could be it. Arsenal were on the wrong end of his magic and so could Inter. ‘The Special One’ may have had the advantage over the first ninety minutes but the little magician could undo every bit of that in the next ninety.
Recent Form: WWWWDW
Recent CL Form: WWWWWW
Mourinho rested his two main central defenders in the home win against Atalanta. Mario Balotelli made a mug of himself at the end of the first leg. This time it was not just the coach who was angry at his behavior. Rumours say that the entire Inter squad had enough of his tantrums, and he was sent home from training before the game against Atalanta. But the more ominous news for Inter is that Wesley Sniejder is injured and might not play, while Maicon is doubtful, as he hasn’t recovered from his dental Surgery. Missing these two players can be devastating for Inter. Dejan Stankovic is suspended.
TheHardTackle’s Predicted line up: Cesar – Maicon – Lucio – Samuel – Chivu – Zanetti – Cambiasso – Motta – Pandev- Eto’o – Milito
TheHardTackle’s Player to Watch Out:
Inter striker Diego Milito has the potential to throw the Nou Camp into disarray if he scores an early goal, laying the groundwork for Inter to defend for the remainder of the game. He does miss quite a few chances but he will always be sniffing in and around the box for rebounds and knock-downs. One goal from Milito could be the decider.
Barcelona 3-1 Inter Milan
The Camp Nou is a whole different environment for Inter to play in and they will have to face excessive pressure from Barcelona. We think this game will go into extra time and beyond. It could be a night for one of the goalkeepers to become a hero!