Saturday, October 2, 2010

Barca 1-1 Rubin Kazan

With a first-half penalty goal and a smothering 5-4-1 defensive effort that shut down Barca for most of the match, Russian side Rubin Kazan appeared to be headed for an unexpected win until David Villa converted a penalty kick in the second period to equalize the score.  Barca played better after that, but still missed opportunities in the 62d minute, when Danny Alves wasted a chance after brilliantly intercepting a back pass to the goalkeeper; and again in the 71st minute when Messi Wan Kenobi had a shot blocked; and then again in the 87th minute when a powerful header by Martins came off the post.  Barca's last chance was a misdirected header in the 89th minute by Bojan Krkic, and that ended the match, Barca finishing 1-1 against Rubin Kazan.

Even so, this is not a bad result for Barca.  This was clearly going to be the toughest match of the Champions League group phase for Barca, so this outcome allows Barca to stay in the running for the next round of competition-- currently FC Kobenhavn is first in Group D with 6 points, and Barca second with 4.  Despite their strong showing, Rubin Kazan still has only 1 point in Group D, so Barca is in good position to advance.  Moreover, the come-from-behind outcome against a side that was playing defensive football showed some strong character.  Frankly, Barca's fearsome reputation is sure to lead other teams to adopt the 5-4-1 defensive clam against the Blaugrana, so Barca fans can probably expect to see more of this kind of tactic in the future.  It is the price of success.

Barca returns to league play on Sunday October 3d against Real Mallorca, and their next Champions League match is on Wednesday October 20th at Camp Nou, against group leader FC Kobenhavn.  If Barca can shut down Kobenhavn's Senegalese sensation Dame N'Doye, Barca will win Group D and advance to the Round of 16 in Champion's League play.

It will be fun to watch.