It was a night where the ‘Special One’ got the better of the special one on the pitch. For the first time this season, the footballing world discovered that Lionel Messi and Barcelona were not unstoppable after all.
Defensive, negative, call it what you will. There is no doubt that Jose Mourinho proved once again that he is a master of getting it tactically spot on. Pep Guardiola simply had no answer to the question which was being posed by the resilient Inter defence.
All in all, the match was fascinating viewing for the expectant audience around the world. Not least those at the Nou Camp. Pep Guardiola’s men attempted to pass Inter Milan into submission and all the way to the final at the Bernabeu. The statistics were quite astonishing; Barcelona completed a staggering 548 passes completed to Inter’s 67.
Barcelona bobbed and weaved their pretty patterns in midfield as they always do. Messi and Xavi were technically superb as usual, probing and passing their way around the Inter box. However, there weren’t many clear cut chances created and much to the frustration of the Catalonian crowd- that was ultimately the story of the two legs.
There was a brief glimmer of hope for the hugely frustrated home crowd, but Bojan’s goal at the end was perhaps harshly ruled out for a handball by Yaya Toure.
However, in reality Barcelona did not really merit a place in the final. Inter were simply the better outfit over two legs. Inter Milan prepared and executed the perfect game plan and did not allow Barcelona enough time or space.
You feel there was a sense of desperation from Guardiola when Zlatan Ibrahimovic was taken off to be replaced by young Bojan Krkic. Ibrahimovic was particularly poor, living up to his tag of going missing in big games. It is laughable to think that Barcelona paid Inter €46 million as well as Samuel Eto’o for the Swedish striker.
For Guardiola last night, there simply was no plan B. The truth is, he has probably never needed one before, especially when plan A is always so devastating. Just ask Arsenal.
It just shows you that you have to actually use the ball and fashion chances; having it isn’t always good enough. Arsenal would win the Premier League title every season if football was all about pretty possession. Last night wasn’t the first time Barcelona’s weaknesses were exposed.
Under Guus Hiddink, Chelsea had the beating of Barcelona last season in the semi-final. If it wasn’t for some laughable decisions by the poor Norweigan referee Tom Ovrebo, then there would have been an all-English final for the second year in a row.
The referee in question has already confirmed his reputation for being horribly incompetent by wrongly awarding Miroslav Klose’s offside goal in this season’s Champions League match between Fiorentina and Bayern Munich. It ultimately cost Fiorentina dearly.
Mourinho’s celebration at the end where he dashed onto the field in a frenzy, showed what it meant for him to get the better of Barcelona.
He was disparagingly dubbed the ‘translator’ by Barca fans in the build up to the game, in relation to his early days at the club when he served under Louis Van Gaal and Bobby Robson. Last night he got his revenge in the sweetest way possible, clearly taking huge delight in winding up the crowd at the end of the game.
It is the translator who is going to Madrid to face his old mentor Van Gaal, and he will relish the challenge of winning his second Champions League against Bayern Munich at the Bernabeu. If speculation is to be believed, then Madrid had better get used to Jose Mourinho.