Friday, March 11, 2011

Barca Routs the Gunners 3 - 1

One disadvantage to being on 'Business Travel' is that it sometimes gets in the way of following the success of sides that I like, none more so than FC Barcelona.  Such was the case this past week, as I was stuck in meetings and unable to watch as Barca smashed English Premier League side Arsenal 3 to 1 in Champions League play.

The youtube videos, however, are certainly revealing, and the story line is not so different from last year, when Arsenal came to Camp Nou holding a 1-win advantage over Barca, only to see their chances fall to the brilliance of Messi Wan Kenobi.  This year, if anything, Barca's victory was even more emphatic. From the opening wistle the Blaugrana dominated possession, quickly building up Arsenal's frustration and resulting in a barrage of yellow cards for the Gunners.  The first was in the 16th minute as the proper response to a rough tackle on Pedro by Koscielny, leading to a free kick by Dani Alves which Arsenal keeper Szczesny fielded quite easily.  Thereafter, Barca's attacking possession was so relentless that Arsenal could not mount a proper attack until the 43rd minute, winning a corner kick that the Gunners failed to convert.

And then, three minutes into first-half stoppage time, Lionel Messi finally scored on an intercepted back-pass by Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas, ending the half for Arsenal with a demoralizing goal from an uncharacteristic mistake from their star player.  However, the mistake was repaid in the 53rd minute when a second Arsenal corner kick resulted in an own-goal from Sergio Busquets, proving for the second time in this match, that in football even the best players sometimes make mistakes.  And just like that, Arsenal was back in the match at 1 - 1.

Except, actually they were never really in the match.  Only three minutes later Robin Van Persie collected his second yellow of the night and was sent off, leaving Arsenal undermanned against the most dangerous team on the planet.  The Gunners desperately tried to hold out but to no avail, the relentless pressure from Barca finally broke through in the 69th minute when Xavi coolly took a through ball from Iniesta and scored, making the tally 2-1.  The final score of the night went to Messi wan Kenobi in the 71st minute to make the score 3 - 1.  Although Arsenal never stopped fighting, the end result was yet another dominating performance by Barca, and the Catalans now go through to the next round of Cahmpions League competition.

Here is the most chilling statistic of the match: Arsenal did not get a single shot on goal in the entire second half.  This was truly a dominant performance by Barcelona against a worthy and dangerous foe.

So, hats off to Arsenal, they are without a doubt one of the more determined sides the Blaugrana have faced this season, and they aquitted themselves well against mighty Barcelona, especially in the first match.  But that's the way it goes with FC Barcelona these days-- even the grandest sides have great trouble competing against these Jedi Knights of association football. 

There is no shame in losing to FC Barcelona.  They are the greatest team in world soccer, after all.