Arsenal 2, Barca 2, a.k.a. “Whine, whine, whine, but we screwed the pooch”


“Let me up, so that I can score some more, please.”

Yes he’s under there, my Man of the Match, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored the brace and more importantly two precious away goals that give us a significant advantage going into the home leg. This was an oddball, bittersweet match that shouldn’t have ended the way that it did.

For that, we have nobody to blame but ourselves. Did Fabergas dive? This is debatable, and will be one of those matters of perspective, like Chelsea being cheated in last year’s semis. I’ve watched it a number of times now, and I have to say that I don’t think he dove. I think that he made the most of the contact with Puyol, but what player doesn’t do that in the box?

But if Puyol doesn’t whiff on clearing the pass from Walcott, who was busy making Maxwell his punk, then Fabregas isn’t in a position to dive. If Busquets doesn’t make a stupid, stupid play that gifts Arsenal possession on the break, then we don’t even concede that first goal. To win championships, you have to play championship football.

No, you can’t play championship football for 70 minutes. You have to play it for the whole match. And give Arsenal full credit for never giving up, for fighting their way back into a match that we dominated in every way except on the scoreboard. Give Arsene Wenger credit for doing what I’d hoped he wouldn’t, which was inserting Theo Walcott, who was licking his chops at going up against Maxwell, a player who on his good day is pokey.

During one of the previews, in the comments thread, I said that I worried about Walcott running loose at our defense. Now everybody sees why. Pace can unbalance a match in a way that few things can. They had it, we didn’t, and that’s that. Instead of 2-0 rolling into our house grinning, we have to actually play a football match, and play to win. We always do, but a 2-0 away goals lead is very different from 2-2, as anyone who follows this beautiful game of ours knows.

So I’m not blaming refs, I’m not blaming Fabregas. You do what you have to do to get your team in a position to win. This draw, this ugly, to my eyes completely unacceptable draw, is all on us.

But let’s start with the good, shall we, as Guardiola rolled out with Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Maxwell, Busquets, Keita, Xavi, Messi, Pedro! and Ibrahimovic. And boy, did we start out with as spectacular a display of football as I have seen from us a long, long time. Simply put, we dominated possession, play and every other meaningful statistic, except for the scoreboard. We peppered Almunia with shot after shot, making him look good with out loose finishing that kept putting balls where he could get to them. Ibrahimovic did it, Messi did it, Xavi did it, Busquets did it. It wasn’t that Almunia had a world-class match. He got a lot of help from us.

Everywhere you looked, every player with the ball had choices, and forward choices. Often we have possession, but it’s meaningless possession as we stroke the ball around the midfield. This match, we were moving forward with the ball, creating danger in space as we charged toward their net, craving that critical first away goal. Messi and Busquets roamed the midfield like centurions, clamping down on any loose possession on their part as we challenged for every ball. Arsenal came out to try to put more pressure on us, and we just passed and moved with even more precision, making them look like far the lesser side.

The rare times that they got through, Valdes was on the case, including an amazing, point-blank save from Bendtner, that again did him a favor by being shot right at him. And somehow, we ended the first half with a 0-0 draw. People on the LiveBlog were slagging Ibrahimovic and why, I don’t know.

But that’s another story.

We came out in the second half and barely 20 seconds in, Ibrahimovic did exactly what we brought him for. He read the defense, and took perfect advantage of Arsenal’s high line to take an on-the-money pass from Pique. Almunia made the wrong call, coming out too far from goal, and Ibrahimovic lofted a first-touch shot over the keeper’s head for the 0-1 scoreline. The shot was as audacious as the taker of said shot was big, because it had to be perfect. And it was. It was just reward for our dominance, and it certainly looked as though more was coming.

But who knew it would be almost the same thing, as Ibrahimovic again took advantage of space, and Arsenal’s high line, taking a pass from Xavi in stride and smoking it high side past the keeper. He had the brace, and we had an insurmountable 0-2 lead, or so it seemed.

Then we stopped playing. This was a characteristic of the end of the Rijkaard regime when, like a cat with a dead mouse, we get bored and stop playing with the mouse. Then we discover that it was playing possum, and runs away …. toward our goal. I’ve already documented how they happened, and this shows why we need Abidal more than any player on our roster. Maxwell simply can’t deal with pacey wingers, and it killed us as Walcott was crucial to both Arsenal goals.

And I repeat, we have nobody to blame but ourselves. In something a bit new, I will deal with players a bit more in depth whenever possible, during the ratings.

Team: 6. Sorry, but you can’t play 2/3rds of a match. You have to play the whole match. Whether it was because you got tired, or bored, or were hungry or whatever, you let Arsenal back in the match. It went from done and dusted to in doubt, and it’s your own fault.

Guardiola: 5. You had them ready to play, but you let the side down with shitty selections. Keita shouldn’t have been in, with The Yaya instead, and Henry should have been subbed for Pedro!, not Ibrahimovic. He didn’t look tired, and I guarantee you he was plenty energized enough to continue being a threat. When he came off, Arsenal got a lot more confident. And you were outcoached. Wenger made the right substitutions. You didn’t.

Valdes: 7. Didn’t do much, but what he did was aces. He even guessed right on the first goal, but just had it slip under his outstretched body. Bummer. He and Almunia were, as I said, made to look good by having shots hit directly at them, but both keepers had redemption matches of a sort. I love the way that Valdes plays for us. Long live Highpockets!

Alves: 6. Too erratic for my tastes. He started out as Marauding Dani, charging up the pitch, playing excellent defense and making pass after pass to good places, passes that deserved better fates. Then suddenly, he began yielding acres of space on his side, and not doing much on offense. This was a team-wide malaise, however, but still. Attack after attack was started up his side of the pitch.

Pique: 7. Played his heart out, and just missed the slide that would have blocked the Walcott goal. A little more pace would have got him there. Excellent pass to Ibrahimovic, and he was in full Piquenbauer mode as he was the man bringing the ball out from the back. But he picked up an undeserved yellow, and will miss the home leg as will Puyol. Milito is a preferable choice to Puyol these days, form being what it is. But Pique’s absence raises the specter of Marquez. Uh, oh.

Puyol: 6. Key interventions and strong early play, but he went off the boil and began making positional errors that cost us, when he went to fireman mode. He simply has to line up and clear that pass in from Walcott. He’s blameless on the “penalty,” as that was an atrocious call that found him simply standing there. If Fabregas broke his leg on that play, it shows that fate doesn’t suffer fools gladly. He would have been out in the Camp Nou leg anyhow, though.

Maxwell: 4. It’s easy to play left back when you don’t have any pressure. But as soon as you got some, you caved. Walcott owned you, and your inability to figure out how to play him cost us dearly. If you are a player’s inferior, foul him as soon as he touches the ball. Do something other than back up, with your hands clasped behind your back. That just gives him space to play, and if you give a talented player space to play, he will kill you every time. Walcott did.

Busquets: 5. And you were doing so well, before going back to Bad Busi, with tentative, uncertain play and messy passing that killed us. Shame on you for that schoolboy giveaway. Not sure what you were thinking, but you clearly weren’t. Very good match up until that point, but it was your stupidity that gave a good side life. And then on the tying goal, you fouled Denilson but didn’t stop the ball. If you’re going to foul, stop the ball, or the official will allow play to continue. You know better.

Keita: 5. You should have been The Yaya, as you didn’t offer much in attack. Yes, you did some of the dirty work in taking fouls, policing the midfield and battling for possession. But I kept wondering how different things would have been with a grownup out there.

Xavi: 8. Holy cow, what a match. Even when they marked you, there was always a way out as you dictated the match’s pace and tempo. Unfortunately, your teammates let you down. You were also missing your partner in crime, Iniesta. And when Messi started playing more forward, that made the midfield a messier place for a thoroughbred such as yourself to do his thing. And it showed.

Pedro!: 3. You were pretty close to worthless. You are hardly ever where the ball is, so you’re always chasing it, running back and forth like a crazy person. You were where attacks went to die, as you either lost the ball with a heavy touch or offered up a shit cross that was easily dealt with by Arsenal’s defense. Running around with loads of energy doesn’t mean that you’re playing well.

Messi: 4. Your thousand-yard stare as you were coming off the pitch spoke volumes. What the hell, can’t you play when someone else is in the spotlight? You started off very well, being a key part of our first-half dominance, as you teamed with Xavi to control possession, and move forward into dangerous positions. Then you just went away, commencing an interminable period in which you were hardly any help at all to your side. It was Argentina NT Messi, and it’s too bad, because this was your match to take by the scruff of the neck. And you punked out.

Ibrahimovic: 7. Strong individual play, marked by lots of energy and all the right movement. Thankfully, you also showed what happens when the passer anticipates your movement, and releases the ball when they’re supposed to, without hesitation. On plays such as the two goals that you scored, there is no time for contemplation, because there is no other play. Often, we hesitate a beat before deciding to make the pass, always searching for a better option. The two passes that released you were fully committed, with dazzling results. Nice work.

Substitutes

Henry: 1. Except for the nice play that you made right as you came onto the pitch, you were pretty much a worthless substitution.

Milito: incomplete. Not enough time really, for you to do much except stare in open-mouthed astonishment that our skipper was sent off for that play.

And so instead of heading home with a massive, 2 away goal cushion, we look at next Tuesday’s home leg wondering how in the hell this one got away. I think we will do the business, particularly if Abidal is back in the side, because Wenger is going to once again run with Plan Walcott, in the hopes that they will steal an away goal or two. Messi has to show the hell up at home as well, but I am confident.

Unfortunately, we will have a difficult match on the weekend, in the form of Athletic Bilbao. Thankfully, we will have the advantage of home cooking.

And now ….

"Get the hell out of here. Now you see why I don't want you."
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In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.

245 Comments

  1. March 31, 2010

    And for the record, yes the ref blew the call. But in real time, that’s the call you make. And if you call the foul, you have to show Puyol the red. He will watch the replays at home and feel stupid, but that’s life in the big city, right?

    I don’t disrespect Fabregas for doing what he had to do. Just win, baby. We just screwed this one up. Our players who say we deserved better are right. So play like it on Tuesday.

    • cliveee
      March 31, 2010

      truly admire the spirit you have as a fan, a true supporter. i see myself fall short sometimes. but its true, dive or not dive, bad calls, wrong calls, u do what u have to do to win it. result gets you trophy, not excuse.

      miss you rating like my favorite medium-rare steak, thanks for writing this up.

    • Helge
      April 1, 2010

      Exactly what I’m thinking, Kxevin. I was a bit shocked by the heavy rant about Cesc in Isaiah’s article, but now I’m relieved that I’m not the only one who doesn’t blame Cesc for it 🙂

      Brilliant preview, after such an emotional game, you kept it simple. Others got carried away by emotions, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes it can take you too far. Today it showed that you are a professional journalist 😉

      PS: I hope this will not get me into trouble with people who – in my eyes – overreacted… I’m still one of the biggest fan of this community!

    • stowe
      April 1, 2010

      great article, and i agree with the reviews. messi was unimpressive, xavi and ibra were great; busi and alves (great crosses) were looking great until the last 20 minutes when most of the team stopped playing. I was definitely surprised to see ibra off. And as for the dive, I only saw it live and the one replay on tv. thought the red was harsh but i thought it was a foul.

  2. Boat Forever
    March 31, 2010

    One good thing about Fabregas dive is the bloody Catalan newspapers would stop the campaigning for him 🙂
    I always maintained he goes AWL when made to play a strong mid field. Accept it guys, Fabregas is a Big fish in a Small pool

    • AA23
      April 1, 2010

      I don’t get this about Cesc – did you miss Euro 2008?

      He was also carrying an injury that affected his mobility.

  3. jnelson
    March 31, 2010

    the penalty was ATROCIOUS. of course, those calls are never freakin overturned upon appeal. That was a disgrace, Cesc!!! haha. I was so pumped after the first 60, but like in almost every other match that we actually came to play in the first half, we took the foot off the pedal. That will be our end, especially against teams like Arsenal. But, holy cow: 71% first half possession! and of course….0 goals off 1492467 shots. I think, after all this, it can be said that WE can destroy EVERY team when we are ON. Now, there is just this thing called discipline…

  4. jordi™
    March 31, 2010

    Abidal would have put Theo on his ass as soon as he came on, and that wouldve been the end of that problem.He wouldnt have taken on abidal any more, but the moment he beat maxwell, he won the battle on the wing.

    • Jim
      April 1, 2010

      The first goal was down to Busi not Maxwell. Given his and Walcott’s starting positions there was no way he was stopping him – nor would Abidal. I seem to remember Abidal doesn’t cover himself in glory with wingers that run at him either. I also don’t recall Walcott beating him in the rest of the game but maybe I’ve just blanked that out. Oncw Walcott came on Pep should also have made sure that someone gave Maxwell cover, either a CB or Keita.

  5. scav
    March 31, 2010

    That’s gonna get called every ******* time in real time.

    And, honestly, when you’ve got a defender between your legs like that, you’re never, ever going to get a call.

    I don’t blame Fabregas.

  6. March 31, 2010

    Hey – an interesting footballing blog ! Excellent writing, and yes Barcelona seriously screwed up what they should have won – Arsenal were nowhere for 70 minutes – then it was siesta time I guess as your guys all went off for a snooze. Maybe they did it on purpose to make the second leg interesting ? Did they get instructions to let Arsenal score a couple to improve ticket sales for the second leg ? Everything’s possible I guess. Barcelona are still clear favourites and Arsenal without Fabregas, Arshavin, Gallas, Van Persie will be hoping for miracles.

  7. scav
    March 31, 2010

    Walcott is finally coming into his own. He’ll never be the dominant player they thought he would, but as a speed merchant he’s supremely dangerous.

    God, I hope Abidal is ready next week.

  8. Rohanv
    March 31, 2010

    Pep outcoached Arsene initially (and brilliantly), but seemed to have made the mistake of assuming Wenger’s second-half adjustments wouldn’t require too much different from us. Bad, bad mistake.

    The between the line pressure made us look like, well, them in the first half, because suddenly we didn’t have the ball as much, and we didn’t have the energy to go get it back. I understand the idea behind the Ibra/Henry swap, because Pedro pursues the ball a lot more, but a) Henry wasn’t pursuing hard despite having fresh legs b) Arsenal’s more determined high-line was clearly exploitable.

    Put Yaya in at the 70th minute for Busi, and we’re golden. He’s got fresh legs to attack, and the solidity to defend and hold the ball in the middle. Unfortunately, things got too out of hand quickly and Pep was too busy manning the hatches.

    P.S. I like the way each rating is addressed as if you were talking to the players (it seems different from usual, but maybe I just noticed it.) It’s like a mid-year office evaluation session.

  9. arsenal fan
    March 31, 2010

    dive? so his legs lodging between puyols while shooting (probably breaking his leg and possibly ending his world cup dreams) is a dive? is he faking that broken leg to make it convincing? you smashed us today, made us looked ordinary, had a ton of chances, kept the ball better, should have maybe had a penalty in the first half. but you failed to capitalise and failed o shut the game down at 2-0. and your mentioning a dive!!! great team. average blog

    • zeebarca
      March 31, 2010

      it was the wrong call the replays prove it but whats done is done, barca will go through theres no two ways about it !!!

    • cliveee
      March 31, 2010

      i understand epl has a culture of diving, but it doesn’t make a dive a right thing. i hear all kinds of excuses and particularly within this diving culture saying if there is any sort of contact made in the box, the intervention means straightly penalty IN THERE OPINION. but this is exactly the reason why this bad culture prevails in england.

      “legs lodging between puyols while shooting” means fabregas is the one who kicked at puyol. puyol got there earlier than him and thats why the legs stuck there. followed is the exaggeration of your diving culture which the likes of CR7, Drogba, Steven Gerrard, Rooney and such are so good at.

      we are not complaining that the dive cost us the draw, we blame that on our own. but a dive remains a dive and you have no way to explain how a dive can be right.

      • eshesh
        March 31, 2010

        fabregas had his eyes firmly on the ball. He had a great opportunity to score and puyol ran up behind him. There was contact as fabregas was trying to hit the ball, thus he goes down.

        You can call it a soft penalty but it is not a dive.

        • jnelson
          March 31, 2010

          Dive or not, compared to everything that was called and wasn’t, I really don’t see how THAT was called. Speaking of diving, anybody remember Eboue???? Nuff said.

          • arsenal fan
            April 1, 2010

            what the hell does that have to do with this incident

        • Phil
          April 1, 2010

          It’s not either. It was a bad call. He didn’t dive, and Puyol didn’t foul him.

          • Perry Groves
            April 1, 2010

            It wasn’t a dive. Puyol took his leg as he was lining up to shoot. Take your blinkers off. Ibrahimovic was not exactly innocent on the diving front, along with a couple of others on the Barca team, which you don’t seem to want to mention.

            You completely outplayed us for most of the game, and I do worry that you’ll hammer us in the return leg, but I still hope for better from us.

      • ArsenalStation
        April 1, 2010

        How can Puyol possibly have gotten there first if the contact came from behind? I guess from the way you guys are talking that no Barcelona player has ever gone down in the box and won a penalty on less contact than Puyol had with Fabregas. Puyol’s defending on that play was naive and the result of his being caught out of position thanks to his own side’s failure to clear the ball. Puyol put himself in a position to be called for a penalty and he should have known better.

        And I find it rich to hear of the diving culture in England from fans of La Liga. Diving is just as much a problem in Spain as it is England, if not more from what I’ve seen.

        I’d love to see the looks on all your faces when Arsenal get the first goal on Tuesday and Barca hit the panic button. Your side lacks any serious pace just like Liverpool when Theo ran the length of the pitch in the Quarterfinals two years ago.

        • Eklavya
          April 1, 2010

          But Theo didn’t make you go through to the semis did he?

  10. Lil John
    March 31, 2010

    Wow, seems like there are more Americans visiting this blog than Catalans. FC Barcarica?

    • March 31, 2010

      This is an English-language blog that is based in America, Lil John. You will find many an Arsenal blog that is visited by many Americans as well. It just means that this game of ours is global. Nothing wrong with that.

    • Jose
      March 31, 2010

      lol, I know what you mean. It’s as if an English-language blog somehow attracts English-speaking Americans more than Catalan/Castillian-speaking Catalans. Weird, huh? 😛

      • Bojan
        April 1, 2010

        well i am macedonian and i love this blog for that matter. thumbs up!!! 😉

    • Eklavya
      April 1, 2010

      There are people from Europe, America and Asia.
      Too bad there aren’t those Offside flags here 😀

  11. zeebarca
    March 31, 2010

    i cannot believe that we let them score two WOW !!!! this 2-2 seems like when liverpool came to the camp nou. Can we really pull through and win this tie? im hoping we do and score a brace or more to put this tie to bed but sumthing from deep inside tells me arsenal will play their heart out on Tuesday, worries me that we might have gifted this to them, would love to be proved wrong so bad…ive already taken a day off Tuesday and will be rooting for my barca.

    • Roja_N
      April 1, 2010

      You said it zeebarca…the worst thing about this shoddy 20 minute display at the end was that it gave arsenal HOPE. This is something that should never have happened. Of course they will play their hearts out and i know ppl will say that it wont matter cos we’ll crush them….but why leave a ‘what if’ chance when we were in the clear to progress. I hate that they have HOPE and will be all gung-ho for the game on Tuesday. Wenger is also going to learn from mistakes and like Walcott said….if they score first, that would throw us into all kinds of panic…especially if it happens in the second half. I HATE that we let this one go when we should have buried it. I have all the faith in the world in pep…but we all know Wenger can coach and strategise brilliantly. I wish we hadn’t given them HOPE

      • WarriGooner
        April 1, 2010

        Tuesday cometh soon enough. You were supposed to have “crushed” us yesterday. Tuesday.

        • April 1, 2010

          WE DID CRUSH YOU.

          two fortunate plays and a key referee call is what saved you.

          Did you not watch the game yesterday? You can’t possibly argue that you were the better side in ANY aspect of the game besides the scoreline.

          Yes the scoreline is all that matters, but if you think you’ll get a similar fortune at our home, you’re in la la land.

  12. UAI
    March 31, 2010

    Cesc didn’t dive. Don’t live in a bubble. You can argue it shouldn’t have been a penalty. Watch it again in slo mo. Cesc is already shooting with his right and Puyol manages to trap his right leg between his own. He unleashed his shot and finds himself banging behind Puyol’s right knee, of course he was gonna fall after that.

    Puyol didn’t intend to do that. Less clear if it should have been a penalty. But pretty significant non-ball contact that prevented a shot on goal in very close range, there’s a case to be made there.

    • Kxevin
      March 31, 2010

      I’ll take that challenge, UAI. Stand by.

      • March 31, 2010

        I have to say that you’re right, UAI, and have corrected the official record above. I do believe that Fabregas made the most of the contact, but everybody does that.

        What I’m not sure about, and it doesn’t matter really, is whether Puyol trapped his leg, or the shooting placed Fabregas’ leg between and in contact with Puyol’s.

        Either way, it wasn’t a dive.

        Should it have been a penalty? As I said, if you make the foul call, it’s got to be a penalty, and a red card.

        • Helge
          April 1, 2010

          Yap, that’s it. The case should be closed now. I think in 6 days, nobody will really care about this penalty decision anymore, because we will beat, maybe not trash, but beat Arsenal. They’re without Cesc, Gallas, possibly Arshavin and Diaby (accumulation of 3 yellow cards?).

          We should line-up this way:
          Valdes
          Alves – Milito – Yaya – Abidal
          Xavi- Busquets – Keita
          Messi – Ibra – Jeffren(!)

          And Walcott will be useless. And so will be all efforts of Arsenal.

          • WarriGooner
            April 1, 2010

            With time we will all know, Helge. For now, only God knows. Strange things do happen in football.

          • stephen
            April 1, 2010

            I agree, dive or no dive, the score line should’ve been 4-2 at THAT point.
            I like the line-up though, the yaya instead of marquez or chigry anyday ! esp. if abidal is back.

          • cliveee
            April 1, 2010

            will be very hard for pep to call in yaya for that position. 2 more defenders besides milito on the squad and u choose a dm to fill that position. i think he will still go with marquez.

  13. Guvna
    March 31, 2010

    Cesc, Arshavin, and Gallas were all carrying injuries BEFORE the match. Give them credit for getting back to 2-2. In addition, Robin Van Persie is Arsenal’s top striker, and he was out injured too. On top of that, they had to replace Gallas with Song in defence, and Song is a midfielder. Given all of that, the game changed with the simple introduction of pace, as the blog correctly pointed out. However, it wasnt just Walcott’s pace, but also Eboue. Both subs who will probably start in the return leg due to other injuries.

    90 mins to play to win. Either team can win it. Should be a good game.

  14. Luka666
    March 31, 2010

    First off, im an Arsenal fan. You outplayed us clearly and those ratings of your players are from my point of view correct, but i would point out that Cesc didnt dive. Try volleying a tree if you dont belive me. I belive you will have about the same result as Cesc had (fall down and probably broke your leg). See you next week and good luck in La Liga.

  15. Guvna
    March 31, 2010

    Cesc a big fish in a small pond??? nonsense. The EPL is a massive league and he is one of the top midfielders in it. I understand that you may feel the need to belittle him because he left Barca, but that comment is completely wrong.

    • April 1, 2010

      get off your high horse Guvna.

      Wenger dangled an increased salary and more immediate first team football to lure Cesc from our squad. It wasn’t on some principle of being unhappy at Barcelona. Wenger was shrewd in his recruitment.

      Get your histroy correct. Cesc didn’t just get up a leave cuz he thought your club was greater in any respect. He wanted to get paid. That’s it.

      • Frimpongs the man
        April 1, 2010

        JMo, I think that while cesc did receive more money when he joined arsenal, we will never truly know if this reason was the only reason behind his joining arsenal. I personally think that he left barcelona to secure more playing time for a club that is at least in the same league as barcelona. It is impossible to state with so so much confidence (as you have done)that cesc left to ‘get paid’ because clearly had he stayed at barcelona he would be making a significantly larger amount of money now than he does at arsenal currently.

        btw im an arsenal fan.

      • ArsenalStation
        April 1, 2010

        JMo, he didn’t say anything about Cesc leaving because he was unhappy. First-team football is a far better reason to join a club than being unhappy with the one you were at anyway. The sour grapes on here over the penalty and Cesc in general is highly unattractive. That Isaiah article should win an award for most bitter blog post of the year. Alot of you sound like 5-year olds throwing a temper tantrum. “I can’t have that toy, well I didn’t want it anyway.”

  16. Question???
    March 31, 2010

    How to dive with one leg clipped between puyol’s two legs?

  17. jj
    March 31, 2010

    u rated your man of the match ibrahimovic 7 and xavi 8 ,LOL and i actually thought pedro played one of his best games allround he hardly lost the ball and got back well and im not really dissapointed, i mean yes the tie should be over but 2-2 away and a peformance like that. In all seriousness arsenal were demolished at there ground and now they have to beat us at nou camp or score 3. PLEASE.

    • March 31, 2010

      Yes, and it’s happened before. A player can do his job more effectively than another player and still not be man of the match. MOTM is a designation that looks at a player’s overall mojo. That Ibrahimovic would be MOTM is pretty clear. But he wasn’t better at his job, in context, than Xavi.

      Make sense?

  18. March 31, 2010

    Your point is well taken, Guvna. For the record, I don’t want Fabregas because he will be too expensive, and the two guys who play his position both have many years left, play ahead of in in the Spain NT, and fit our system like a glove.

    His talent isn’t in doubt, though I’d still rather have Nasri, and that early shot of his showed exactly why. Somebody said that he’s a carbon copy of Iniesta. They’re wrong. Iniesta never does that, or makes that move to get open for the shot.

  19. Aussie Gooner
    March 31, 2010

    “If this guy didn’t make a mistake, they wouldn’t have scored” ???
    Listen to yourself buddy. If no one made any mistakes it would’ve been 0-0 and off to your backyard for another 0-0 draw in a game with no mistakes! Fabregas didn’t dive, Puyol had made no attempt to attack that ball and ended up with Fabregas’s leg stuck between his. Foul. Penalty. Red Card.
    The problem with Barca is the fact that your game is slow compared to the English game. If you allow a Pommy team to dictate the pace of the game, as you guys did in the last 20mins, you’re screwed.

    Just face it, your Poodle of a team just got screwed by our thoroughbred race horse!

    • March 31, 2010

      You’re missing the point. The simple fact of the matter is that Busquets made a silly turnover in a dangerous part of the pitch, and Walcott converted. Then Puyol whiffed on the clearance attempt. Yes, those are errors that resulted in goals.

      I’m sure that the Gunner fan in you construes that to mean that we contend that those goals shouldn’t have been scored. They were, so that’s nonsense, right? But to attribute cause as a contributing factor to an effect happens all the time, right?

      • Jose
        March 31, 2010

        Kxevin, it is a mark of your patience and maturity the way you’re handling the Arsenal trolls.

        I personally would have mocked them for injuring Fabregas and Gallas to get a draw at home, thereby screwing over their season. Or getting 35% possession despite being a “possession team”. Or just generally be condescending… you know, commend them for a good effort, but now it’s time for los hermanitos to step aside and let their elders take care of the rest of the tournament.

        That’s how I would have responded had I been in you position. You, sir, are a better man than I.

        • Aussie Gooner
          April 1, 2010

          Buddy, for all I care you can have 99% of the possession, but the fact of the matter is YOUR TEAM FELL ASLEEP AND COPPED IT!!!
          Why cant you accept the fact that your team was caught out when the game should have been killed off by you guys. Yes, you played us off the pitch but that doesn’t give you the right to a win, the final whistle was blown 20mins too late according to you.
          I’m glad Barca had 2x the possession, shots on goal, corners and whatever else you won statistically coz it makes our 2-2 draw all the more sweeter knowing your inept finishing gives a chance on tuesday.
          Oh, and by the way, where was your “world player of the year” that everyone was saying would tear us apart?

          Has anyone found him yet?!!

          • adal
            April 1, 2010

            Dude, without Messi playing his top performance, we could strip Arsenal naked for 70 minutes. Imagine what we will do if he’s in form again. And that will probably come on Tuesday. So stay home that day and weep.

            I’m glad we got 2-2, and you will see how we treat home matches. Like last season with Lyon, Bayer Munich and this season with Stuttgart.

            Also remind you that we basically destroyed Arsenal for the rest of EPL with all those injuries. So take that!

          • Bojan
            April 1, 2010

            dude, find your own arsenal blog and there glory your fantastic, never-seen game before ok. please do watch the game over and over and notice what a “racing horse” can do when he can’t find his head. Lucky tie for Arsenal i must add, and trust me never and i mean NEVER in the history of Arsenal never attacked with 10 man or less like barca did. so please when you try to make statement at least at opposing blog try to be more realistic. be gone now!

      • ArsenalStation
        April 1, 2010

        The two Barca goals also came off mistakes from Arsenal not from your 70-whatever possession (50% of which was among the defenders in your own half of the pitch). Almunia got caught out of position as he is wont to do and the second came from miscommunication between a midfielder being forced to play in central defense and his partner.

    • Bill
      March 31, 2010

      Barcelona slow? Weren’t you watching the game? You were beaten in every facet of the game, speed of play, speed of defense, better technique, better passing, smarter moves….everything!

      • Aussie Gooner
        April 1, 2010

        Yes we were beaten everywhere and in every facet, except where it counts, THE SCORE!!!

        Barca’s fitness let them down, they tried to play an english premier league tempo and died in the ARSE. I hope they try it again and this time I hope Walcott starts the game.

        • Eklavya
          April 1, 2010

          Their fitness let them down?

          Which game were you watching? I thought Fabregas broke his leg, Gallas got injured, Arshavin barely played.

        • April 1, 2010

          “The problem with Barca is the fact that your game is slow compared to the English game.”

          ARE YOU KIDDING ME.

          you said that earlier and I almost died with the ridiculousness of your statement. We OWNED you in pace and aggression. Theo is fast as hell, but our play wiped the floor with you.

          It wasn’t our fitness that let us down, it was our resolve and urgency. Yes you scored, and yes you showed heart, but I think our fitness trainers obviously outclass yours as we didn’t have like 81234 players go down with injuries.

          O, and when a player is hurt and has a serious injury in jeopardy, we rest him, try convincing Wenger to do the same.

    • jnelson
      March 31, 2010

      Well then, I guess I’m glad mistakes were made. Sounds a little confident for someone whose team was battered all match long IEO.

      • Aussie Gooner
        April 1, 2010

        and came from behind with an injury stricken team to snatch a draw with the so called world’s best team.
        Hahaha you guys are laughable!

        • jnelson
          April 1, 2010

          If we are “so-called” then I guess Arsenal has some work to do.

  20. SF Gooner
    March 31, 2010

    Your article was ok, till your stupid caption for the pic at the bottom. Sour grapes.

    • March 31, 2010

      Oh, piffle. I close every review with a humorously captioned photo. Fact is that Guardiola does want Fabregas, as does the front-runner for our presidency, Sandro Rosell.

      Does humor reflect policy? Hardly ever. That’s why jokes are jokes. Take it for what it is.

  21. BARCA
    March 31, 2010

    I honestly dont think cesc is that good to be honest. Hes only being rated so highly right now because hes scoring alot but the thing is hes basically a striker for arsenal now, he has no defensive responsibility and what attack minded player wouldnt play better in that role. And if you disagree just ask yourself where was cesc when arsenal were getting broke on by manu and chelsea this season? Not where a CM would have been thats where

  22. March 31, 2010

    And having said that I don’t believe Fabregas dove, I still don’t know that it’s a penalty. And if it is, you have to wonder about when Messi was shoved in the box in the first half, right? Again, significant contact that affected play in favor of the defense.

    But armchair analysis is easy. Refs have crazy hard jobs, that they get right more often than they screw up. But like keepers, we only remember the ones that got away.

  23. Lets not hate on cesc lets just wait til xavi starts to slow down a bit, then we pick him up for 25million Euros. prolly 3-4 years from now, maybe before the Brazil world cup. I can see Inestia Cesc and Busquets being our midfield in 2013 for 5-7 years. I say we buy him a year before xavi is to retire and allow them to rotate so cesc can relearn the system. I also doubt the arsenal score one at the nou camp, and I can promise we wont be shut out, so 1-1 would be fine, but like most of the regulars here at BFB I am hoping that that last 20 min taught our boys a lesson and we stomp them 3-0…Bring on inter, we will do to them what we did the last time they came to the nou camp….I believe it was 70=30% possession for most of the game?

    • Kxevin
      March 31, 2010

      At 25m, I do that deal. Just not now. But he’s a political card right now, with the whole “bring Cesc home” business, which is also silly. He’s Arsenal’s captain, and lives in England, which means that he is home.

      The real question is who in the hell is going to be playing next Tuesday:

      Pique and Puyol are definitely out. Abidal will probably be back. That’s us.

      For Arsenal, I have no idea. Arshavin’s injury is still not disclosed, ditto for Gallas. Fabregas wasn’t going to be playing because of the yellow, anyhow. Van Persie might be back, if press reports are to be believed, which would be quite the boost for them.

      All the more reason that those goals are so vexing. At 2-0 on away goals, it completely changes our match plan. We can still play tight, not concede and go through, but it’s a more fraught thing.

      • YonARSENAL
        April 1, 2010

        25 million??? If Ibra cost you guys 40 mill + Eto’o at the age of 27 there is no way in hell CESC will go for 25 million. You wont get a strand of pubic hair for 25 million. You will need to spend at least what Madrid spent on Kaka + interest and the obvious factor of CESC being a 22 year old with the experience of a 32 year old midfielder.

        • Helge
          April 1, 2010

          Depends on the duration of his contract…

          • April 1, 2010

            also depends on how long Cesc wants to play in a cul-de-sac.

            Arsenal will be a dominant team in ll of Europe in a year or two, but right now, definitely not.

            You’re like a little brother who landed a few punches against a obviously dominant force. You may have stubbed our two big toes in Pique and Puyol, but you just made us angrier.

          • ArsenalStation
            April 1, 2010

            He just signed a new 8-year deal recently so there will be significant duration on that contract no matter when he leaves.

        • stephen
          April 1, 2010

          haha kaka + interest??? are you high????

  24. AAinAus
    March 31, 2010

    Hope Cesc reads this tripe,your puerile attempts at humour at his expense are childish and pathetic.
    You don’t deserve to see him back in Barca colours, and if you lose blame yourselves, oh and karma, Chelsea should’ve won last year and those pigeons are now coming home to roost.

    • Kxevin
      March 31, 2010

      No worries, we’re pretty happy right now with the two guys who are starting ahead of him in the World Cup. And we have 6 trophies that say they were pretty effective last season, right?

      Life is a lot more fun with a little humor. Really it is.

      • jnelson
        March 31, 2010

        Hahahaha. I think we’ve all had a few laughs from today. Thanks to such educated comments enhancing our pathetic American English non-Catalan vocabulary.

      • cliveee
        April 1, 2010

        hahaha, nice one, kxevin. classy too.

  25. Jonno
    March 31, 2010

    As an Arsenal fan i thought Barcelona were breathtaking for the first 25mins, but I’ve never seen Arsenal play so badly in 5 years. So your best and our worst equalled 2-2, sort of. We won’t play that badly again so don’t count any chickens ‘cos these Wenger boys keep proving everyone wrong. We’re decimated with injuries but maybe just maybe….

    Love Barcelona as a city and Pep is the future of management – unlike that boring upstart Mourinho. So here’s to a great match next week. It ain’t over till its over, baby!

    • jnelson
      March 31, 2010

      I definitely agree that Arsenal was not playing well at all in the first half. I don’t know if that will change with all the injuries though. Counter-attack, counter-attack…

    • cliveee
      April 1, 2010

      no, we were far from our best, we were in fact aweful today, look at the ratings above. when we are at our best the team gets a 9 or 10. the review says it all. count your blessing for this draw.

    • Bill
      April 1, 2010

      Funny how most teams have ‘bad games’ against barcelona. Man U did, Bayern did, Lyon did, Inter Milan did. Nobody seems to understand what just happened to them when barcelona plays. We do, we have seen them many times when they are on. What they did to arsenal was not surprising to us at all.

      • Patrick
        April 1, 2010

        Clearly we’re a bad team and everyone just has tremendous bad luck when they play us. That’s exactly what every expert, professional player, and former professional player thinks too.

        Ohh. Wait.

    • Jose
      April 1, 2010

      Arsenal didn’t play badly. This is what your team looks like with 35% possession 😉

  26. Jnice
    March 31, 2010

    About Messi:

    While he wasn’t his normal dazzling, spectacular self, I think he played a solid match. His movement always drew players to him and opened space for others on the flanks. I thought his passing and interplay was quite good and he helped out with our possession. He still had at least 2 good opportunities he normally takes, so all and all, I think he had a solid game. We’ll definitely see more from him at home, though.

    • cliveee
      April 1, 2010

      the stuff he got is still there, but he was totally off. a well messi could have scored a brace in the first half. solid is just not enough sometimes :\

  27. Football fan uk
    March 31, 2010

    Somehow stumbled across this website when reading match reports. Kxevin- you are clueless about football as you demonstrate multiple times in this report. Stick to writing about Chicago. Embarrassing.

    • cliveee
      April 1, 2010

      so football fan from uk has no point and no argument?

      • jnelson
        April 1, 2010

        Cliveee, I think you have a more valid argument with the above sentence haha.

  28. Bill
    March 31, 2010

    I don’t think Ibra was man of the match. Ibra’s goals were nice, but before and after them, he did what Ibra does, offsides, lost possessions, a step slower than everybody else. For that, I wouldn’t give him MOM, only kudos for coming through. Xavi was MOM. His skill, movement passing was just a class above the rest.

    I’m mad at Pep. How many goals does Busquets have to cause, before he realizes Busquets isn’t a DM? Busquets links up well at the offensive end of the midfield, but in defense, he is almost always out of position, and when starting offense from the back, he never provides great outlets for defenders. I saw him pressuring Almunia at one point, and I was thinking, ‘dude, who is covering the backline? you just exposed you back.’ Another time I saw him battling for possessionon by the sideline, and acres of space behind him for arsenal to capitalize. Xavi had to come all the way back to help move the ball around, because Busquets wasn’t doing it. He would have been very good taking over from Iniesta, but not as a DM.

  29. bergkamp
    April 1, 2010

    Here’s my reply to the last blog post about Cesc being a diver.

    You have no leg to stand up on this. A team with Dani Alves and Busquets complain about diving? Heh. The ref gave away free kicks and yellow cards to pretty much the simplest of fouls so I wasn’t surprised when he gave that penalty. Puyol being the last man automatically meant the ref had no choice but to give a red as well if he was going to call it for a foul. It was a harsh penalty maybe but it was consistency on the refs part. And by the way, the post sounds like you’re being very very sore losers. You’re still winning the tie at Camp Nou and now that Cesc is out and Gallas is out for the season, our chances are even more slim.

    And for you guys belittling Cesc, I find it hilarious. Weren’t your players begging in public for him to come? All your presidential candidates etc, they all want him and everyone who watches football recognizes him as one of the hottest talents in football yet you think he’s not good enough. I’m pretty sure if you surround him with players of the caliber Barca has, he’ll do as well as Xavi. His vision and passing range is simply unbelievable but since we didn’t have much possession today, you’re not going to see it. In a way it’s better though if you don’t want him. We would love to keep him 😛 Good day.

    • April 1, 2010

      “Weren’t your players begging in public for him to come?”

      If you believe trashy tabloid interpretations,yes.

  30. Westside Piru
    April 1, 2010

    Obstructing a goal attempt with a body check while not playing for the ball is a foul. In the box its a penalty. When youre the last man its a red card. Cesc ended up with a broken leg.

    • April 1, 2010

      hence clichy’s foul on messi was also a penalty. and are you seriously implying that puyol’s body check was so fierce that it broke his leg? i think your eyes might be ‘broken’.

    • Jose
      April 1, 2010

      Look, I don’t care to argue this point further, but none of that is in the rules. Read the FIFA rules, instead of relying on third-hand evidence.

      1) Simply, obstructing a goal attempt is not a foul. It’s what defenders do. Saying “Cesc would have gotten a shot off had Puyol not been there!” does not mean a foul was committed.

      2) Fouling (more on this later) to obstruct a goal attempt, on the other hand, is a foul and red card offense.

      3) Puyol did not commit a body check (you are using the term incorrectly, anyways).

      4) A foul would mean Puyol either kicked (no), tripped (Cesc tripped on Puyol, if anything), jumped at (no), struck (no), charged (no), pushed (no), held (no), or tackled (no) Cesc in a manner that was beyond the intent of the game (i.e. careless or excessive).

      Seriously, read the rules. I don’t mind people saying it was a penalty (honestly don’t think it will make a difference 😉 ) but read the damn rules instead of relying on the talking heads’ simplification of the rules.

      • Jose
        April 1, 2010

        P.S. if it was a foul, then it was a red card! I get annoyed with some posters going “well it was a penalty but the card was too harsh..” It’s not Bussaca’s whim by that point! If he called the foul, he has to call the red! There are rules, damn it!!!

  31. April 1, 2010

    walcott killed maxwell,and it probably should have ended 2-1,but that was a bullshit penalty and an even more bullshit red card-fabregas never commanded exceptional respect in my eyes and even that’s gone-for an arsenal player to act like that is hypocrisy of the highest order. the ref was just a little influenced by the crowd-studies have shown that refs tend to give decisions in the favor of the home side even if they are truly unbiased. it just happens automatically.i think that after cesc kicked puyol and acted like he was shot,busacca fell for it big time. if you see the replay,the ref is not in a great position.

    anyway,inshallah barca will win it at nou camp. gallas and arshavin probably out, abidal will be back in (and i’d like to see walcott vs abidal end like walcott vs maxwell did),yaya will probably play a bigger role, and…milito is pretty dependable.

    in terms of substitutions,wenger did much better than pep,and you have to hand it to arsene for his role in turning around the game.

  32. Westside Piru
    April 1, 2010

    Petit, Overmars, Sylvinho, Van Bronkhorst, Henry, Hleb. So dont be bitter over Cesc and Merida. smh!

    Hope next week Arsenal can repeat what we did at S. Bernabeu and San Siro at Camp Nou. Shock the world.

    • jnelson
      April 1, 2010

      Uhh how many of the above names do you think we’re proud of actually buying???

  33. Salai
    April 1, 2010

    To the person who thinks these are Arsenal trolls posting I sincerely suggest you take a look around at other blogs to find out what trolls actually post, I’m guessing the only reason you’ve got Arsenal fans posting is because the link appears on the Arsenal newsnow feed.

    I watch quite a lot of Barca and thought you came and did what was expected of you in turn i was disappointed with the performance we started with but not at all surprised we’re just not as experienced as a team and haven’t got anywhere near the understandings some of your players have built up.

    We’ve done this for the past two seasons where we show our naivety and inexperience against disciplined, organised and technically adept teams, we feel our way into games and find ourselves a couple of goals down before we can react, the way we are if you’d scored in the first half I think you couldve won the tie with ease but the wasted chances gave us the confidence that we could get back into the game, and we did.

    Watching Barca in La Liga and your defence always looks suspect but to your credit you just never give the ball up regularly enough for teams to be able to convert a good ratio if their chances, this result will give us confidence but with soo many of our key players out it looks bleak. Good luck to whoever progresses Inter need to be knocked out in the next round.

    I know all fans are biased but there was no question of a dive in that penalty decision, Puyol always skates too close to the line for comfort at times and all he did was run into Fabregas to try and put him off the shot he got it completely wrong and for Fabregas sake I hope he hasn’t broken his leg.

  34. poipoi
    April 1, 2010

    I love busi but he blew it, we were playing like angels and then we get scored against, everyone starts shaking and the second one comes. I blame him for that single play… I was enjoying the game so damn much!! que partidazo

    way to go zlatan 😉

  35. bomba
    April 1, 2010

    Interesting commentary, and on the whole not too off mark. From an Arsenal perspective, I’ll make these few observations.
    The game was a story of three phases. The first phase was about 20 minutes, and I witnessed some of the most amazing football I had ever seen. That said, a few of us observed that Braca were playing at a British pace and simply could not maintain that level of activity. Notably, Alves was exhausted and Nasri was now pinning him back. Fabregas and Diaby were also making runs behind Alves.

    The second phase lasted about 50 minutes, and despite Barca having a lot of possession the periods of possession with any intent appeared level.

    The third phase was the final 20 minute, saw Barca exhausted. The Walcott substitution played on this. Diaby, Nasri, and even Denilson were no longer being pressed (not a sustainable strategy). Barca didn’t let down, they were exhausted.

    As for the penalty, how can you suggest a when he broke his leg? Puyol made no effort to go for the ball, and scissored Fabregas’ shooting leg and potentially broke it. An otherwise solid article save those sour grapes. Will be great game next week. Beware Van Persie.

    • fc
      April 1, 2010

      You put in Gallas, Fabregas, Arshavin all coming from injury and see what you get back. Throwing Van Persie into a CL quarterfinal right after his long injury sounds like a great plan to me 😀

    • poipoi
      April 1, 2010

      come on dude… it.is.not.a.penalty.period!!!

      if you ever played football you should realize it’s cesc foul, he shoots captain caveman’s leg. barça should appeal it, what a dumbass ref he hasn’t shot a ball in his life. WHAT A BEAUTIFUL MATCH WE SAW YESTERDAY

    • Dave
      April 1, 2010

      A ‘British pace’ lol that foreigners actually introduced

    • cliveee
      April 1, 2010

      respect to wenger. he made all the right subs plus good response in the pressing during second half as well. good display.

      but we came to your stadium, and we didnt have to “follow” your pace. in fact, we set our pace for you to follow for the majority of the game because we had the ball longer than you.

  36. fc
    April 1, 2010

    Take it easy guys. Barca just need to play their normal game in return leg. What Arsenal need is miracle.

    • Jose
      April 1, 2010

      I wouldn’t put it that far. Arsenal can’t afford to play the way they did at the Emirates again… It’s simply not going to work. Now I want to see whether Wenger will throw out all that beautiful football talk and play the counter-attack, or whether he’ll stick to his principles.

  37. April 1, 2010

    On the Cesc “dive”: I initially termed it as a dive too, but I don’t think so anymore. I just think it was a Cesc foul, not Puyol. He’s the one who initiated the contact. Anyway, what’s done is done — it should never have come to that anyway.

    On the return leg: If we play Marquez at CB, we’re screwed. I would hope that Pep plays Yaya there, just like against Chelsea and United last year. Him partnering Milito will work fine I think, especially if Abidal is back to control Arsenal’s pace.

    On Pep: I think he seriously screwed up by (a) taking Ibra off instead of Pedro for Henry, (b) taking Messi off when Barca were reduced to ten men, (c) not taking Busquets off for Yaya when Wenger went with Walcott, and (d) not taking Maxwell off for Milito and pushing Puyol to left back, who may not be as quick as Walcott but also isn’t as dumb as Maxwell. On the other hand, 2-2 away in Europe in a first leg isn’t a bad result, so maybe he deserves more credit than blame. Those first 20 minutes were really something else.

    On Arsenal: You’ve got to give them credit for not rolling over and dying like they do against United and Chelsea regularly. At 70 minutes, having leaked two home goals, it would’ve been easy to put their heads down and forget about it. They showed great spirit, so kudos to them. I think on balance, a 1-2 result would’ve been “fair” but that’s how it goes sometimes.

    • barca96
      April 1, 2010

      busi is not the one who should’ve come off.
      it’s keita for yaya

    • cliveee
      April 1, 2010

      i reserve only about the puyol to leftback part because maxwell is a more legit leftback, moreover, even if we use puyol as leftback, he would still have been outrun by walcott.

      the sub i wanted so badly was yaya in and pedro out.

  38. barca96
    April 1, 2010

    agreed with everything kxevin.
    and did you guys notice that this is the 2nd time in a month that pep got too over confident?
    against zaragoza he took off pique and milito and put marquez in and as a consequence we conceded two goals thanks to marquez.

    dou you guys prefer to put poor yaya at cb and still play with the same midfield or yaya with busi and xavi at midfield and milito-rafa at the back?
    abidal should definitely play if walcott’s playing. max can’t handle him

  39. barca96
    April 1, 2010

    btw pep should’ve brought poor yaya in for keita to help maxwell out

  40. Jnice
    April 1, 2010

    I find all of this “Cesc broke his leg, so it’s a penalty” talk kind of funny.

    For one, the broken leg is something he has said, but he hasn’t even been thoroughly checked out by the club, something he also said would happen later today. B. So because he got injured (let us forget he was injured going into the match and looked fine when he took the penalty), it means that it has to be a penalty? Did Puyol two foot stomp him or something?

    • poipoi
      April 1, 2010

      so if I break my head against the post on purpose then it’s a penalty also? 😉 lame ref

  41. JC
    April 1, 2010

    I wud hardly say that Arsenal fought back. The 1st goal was gifted by us, and the penalty was debatable. We have only ourselves to blame.
    On another topic, A Direct red card and a penalty is like double punishment for a single offense. A yellow and a penalty is good enough acc to me.

    • Aussie Gooner
      April 1, 2010

      the same way we have ourselves to blame for letting you guys score your 2 goals.

      • Phil
        April 1, 2010

        I’m sorry what? Ibra makes a run and latches onto a pass to beat your back line both times. You guys were playing a high line that makes this possible. No one player was keeping him onside. Almunia didn’t play it as well as he should have, and nobody picked up ibra as well as they should have.

        Contrast this to one single person (Busquets) giving away the ball with a terrible lazy pass in his own half with almost the entire rest of the team in front of him.

        See how one scenario is Arsenal getting beat and the other is Barca beating themselves? How about this, if Busquets turnover is forced by midfield pressure, or he is straight dispossessed then you would have Barca getting beat.

    • cliveee
      April 1, 2010

      a yellow would still mean puyol misses next match due to yellow card accumulation.

  42. lovelymofo
    April 1, 2010

    Oh noes, logic rears its ugly head! Yeah, we let this game go. But lets look at positives, we have two away goals, are gonna be playing at home, will have some key players back, and Arsenal will be without some very important players.

    I thin Pep really did blow it with substituting Ibra out. I would’ve have thought Pedro comes off and presto, attacking trio of Messi/Ibra/Henry score a goal or two more. Then I would have subbed Yaya in or even Abidal, just to give him a run. I think Walcott would have still scored, but we wouldn’t have conceded a tie.

    Anyway, Cesc may not have totally dived, but he did ask for the penalty where there was none. That’s enough to irritate the hell out of me. Bad luck on the leg, but that wasn’t Puyol’s fault. Wenger decided to risk playing Cesc who was coming back from injury and taking that penalty did him in.

    We’ll win this, but I gotta say, we seem to be doing things the hard way this season.

  43. AusGunner
    April 1, 2010

    I think you’re real harsh on your team here, they were unbelievable in the first half. If there’s a team that can keep the level of your first 45 minute performance up for 90 whole minutes then I’d really, really like to see them. I was always thinking in the first half that ‘there’s no way they can keep this up for 90, and if we can keep them goalless for about 60 they will tire and we’ll come into it more and make some good chances’ we made it hard for ourselves with two soft goals but on the balance of play they were deserved.

    I didn’t even realise there was a question of a dive? Cesc pulled his leg back to shoot and Puyol pinned it pretty clumsily in between his two legs, certainly a foul. The card was harsh but I thought it was a pretty clear penalty.

    • cliveee
      April 1, 2010

      not harsh at all. most of us almost always agree with kxevin here. if we don’t we state our points to debate. it is not harsh because we demand more of our players, and we know what we have done, and how we did it last year. so the level is very very clear to us.

      some said we had our best game against you guys yesterday, but i believe most of us here agree that we are far from best. pretty awful in fact. so, prepare your stuttgart tragedy when you visit camp nou. i know, it will be a different game, and many factors to deal with, but we almost always get the best result at home.

      ok, he didn’t dive, but it wasn’t a foul either. i say cesc exaggerated the contact HE initiated, like “kicking a tree” and fell down hard.

  44. Head Goon
    April 1, 2010

    You really could have put us to the sword but you didnt.

    Be rest assured that we will never play as badly as we did yesterday again.

    We are not Inter,neither are we Villareal or Rubin Kazan ….

    Be rest assured we come for all out War at the Nou Camp. and you shall pay heavy price for your profligacy in front of goal.

    • miz
      April 1, 2010

      welcome to camp nou…will see another great show. just see what happen to Lyon, Bayern, and recently Stuttgart. they came here with the same feeling, confident and situation, draw in the 1st leg.

      and after the game, always got respond ” Barcelona untouchable…”, “messi is the best player in the world…”, “barcelona is the best team in the world…”, “Barcelona triumph ” ……

    • cliveee
      April 1, 2010

      just dont forget to watch stuttgart or inter played at camp nou before you come, see ya! 😀

  45. Baygooner
    April 1, 2010

    Cesc will do anything to win, but he was knocked down within feet of goal by Puyol while shooting — no brainer.

    As for the refereeing, it clearly seemed biased against Arsenal — first foul equals yellow, which was not the case with Barca. As for diving, your guys know how just as easily.

    As you pointed out, Arsenal had some gilt-edged opportunities and failed to put them by your goalie — more than enough to win; and Ibra scored when facing two center backs who had never played together, but they were gifts — which shouldn’t have been needed.

    All that said, it was a brilliant display for the first 20 minutes, probably the best anyone has ever seen, and dominance for the next 40 or so. Then Barca ran out of gas — what you saw at the end was a team without the legs to go the full 90, against a team that always is.

    • Alex
      April 1, 2010

      A team that always goes the full 90?
      More like a team the went the last 20….

    • jnelson
      April 1, 2010

      Gilt-edged chances? You mean the offside shots? I don’t believe those counted, sorry Bendtner.

  46. Cesc Blanc
    April 1, 2010

    I think that you are a bit, can we say harsh, on Keita. His role was that of Ramires with Brazil, to play both in central midfield and also play on the wing and give some width. Given that we basically had no one else on the left wing, he was the only option, as Yaya is not a winger(mind you, neither Keita) and couldn’t have done his work.
    So, I wouldn’t give him such a low grade. In fact, I thought he was next to Ibra, Piqué and Xavi our best player.
    I also think that in the end we ran a bit out of gas or just say that Arsenal was a bit fresher. For 70 minutes, this was probably the best football we played over the past 2 years, or just as good as it gets.
    Good sign that we’re hitting form at the right time.

    Home game will stil be tricky but if we play the last 70 minutes like we did the first in Emirates, we should make it.

    • Cesc Blanc
      April 1, 2010

      regarding Maxwell…excellent for most parts. When Walcott came in, he should have thought of Sylvinho in the Rome final and simply play a lot deeper.

  47. Matthew Wade
    April 1, 2010

    Barcelona were in the first half hands down the best team to have played against arsenal in years. By a distance. you guys could have been 5 or 6 up at half time with better finishing.

    Your player ratings are very harsh. Yes Messi’s finishing was off, but he he was unplayable for 30 minutes. I also thought busquets was very very good for you lot too, quietly controlling things (though his succession of wailing in agony on the floor any time anyone had the temerity to fart in his direction became tiresome, especially as he got 2 or 3 players booked as a direct result). AS for suggesting Fabregas dived, what kind of lunatic planet came up with that idea. His foot is in the process of probably scoring the equaliser before puyol (albeit unluckily in my view) gets his legs in the way. Also, its a pretty good dive that leaves someone with a suspected fibula fracture….Arsenal are lucky to be in this tie at all, but have proven what we all know. Barca are the best team in the world with the ball, but if you can mess with their tempo and fluidity, the barca back 4 is not the best defensively…

    • Vj
      April 1, 2010

      Well, the back 4 was not our best, Abidal’s absence was clearly felt..

  48. April 1, 2010

    I am still loyal to my policy not to defend Busquets or Ibra anymore.

    Regarding Pep, he did the right subs for me. Enjoy “thumbing down” but Yaya is the last player who can serve the team in a game of this pace. And to help containing Walcott? That has to be a joke. In fact his worst attribute is his unability to apply lateral cover, especially on the switch of play. Both Keita and Busquets are far better in that matter. And both were brilliant in this game (or lets say Keita was, as I better not comment on Busquets). The game against Mallorca was a demonstration why Yaya is not ready for the big time yet, this season. Especially as a holding mid.

    As for subbing Ibra, we were 2-0 up. Who will you guys bench to bring Henry? Pedro? Wrong. You bench the player who do less pressure on the ball when in the quest to winning back possession. We were in the need to secure the game, not to show up. Credit for Pep as this shows more maturity compared to last season. Ibra scored two goals, great. I was and still his first defender. But his job ended here. Easy to have second thoughts afterward. But when Pep did his sub, he was right.

    We played a great game. We started it right. We controled it right. We failed to finish it right. We never been as unlucky as we were in this game. Or else it would have been easily 3-0 in the first half. It was meant to be like this. It happens.

    Chins up. The players did there role for most parts of the game. Did one stupid thing later on (lost focus), that was stupid. But they will still get the credit they deserve. I was all smiles after the game. And looking forward for the next leg.

    • Vj
      April 1, 2010

      I’m still wondering why Messi was subbed and P! remained on the field.. We could’ve done more with Messi.. Your thoughts?

      • April 1, 2010

        What will your thought be if we finished the game 2-0 with an injured Messi?

        REmember to put yourself in Pep place at that moment, not after the final whistle.

        • Vj
          April 1, 2010

          Point taken, but if I had a penny for every time we’ve pleaded with Pep to sub Messi (albeit in the Liveblog)..

          Furthermore In Pep We Trust..

          • April 1, 2010

            And just to make my point clear. Pep was over protective in this one. True. But I can see a point in it wieghing the advantages and disadvantages. I wanted Messi out when we scored the second (In fact Pep was less secure so he kept him and pulled out Ibra). we scored two goals. 2-0 is better than 3-0 with injured messi (Couch*Classico). 2-2 is better than 2-3 with messi scoring the third and getting a knock for two weeks. With one man less (Puyol red), we cant imagine to win 2-6 if we kept Messi. So it didnt worth the gamble IMO.

        • Phil
          April 1, 2010

          Messi isn’t subbed until Puyol’s red, meaning 2-2. (In actuality 1-2 but a penalty is a penalty) Guardiola was taking off offensive bite and protecting Messi to save the draw. Pedro should’ve definitely come off earlier. He looked like he was having a terrible case of nerves or something. He’s played in some big games of course, but he looked like he had little direction and used workrate to solve all his problems. This might normally be ok, but he would run attacks off into nowhere when he had no help and would hold up and play negative when he had players making runs or in the box. He was terrible. Henry wasn’t good either, but we wouldn’t have known that before he came on and thus I stand by Henry for Pedro.

  49. Alex Gooner
    April 1, 2010

    Could I as a gooner apologise on behalf of my fellow fan Aussie Gooner. Now thats out of the way let me say that I have never seen football like the way Barca played in the first half. It was the definition of magnificent. How Almunia pulled some of those reflex saves off I’ll never know.

    Like you say, the last 20 mins have given us hope and we may not be as overawed of Barca at the Nou Camp. That said advantage Barca and its definitely your game to lose now.

    • ohmyword
      April 1, 2010

      I too apologise for Aussie Gooner. Perhaps when Aussie’s IQ catches up with his age then he may make more sense.

    • April 1, 2010

      Alex. Glad to see a non-beligerent Arsenal fan on this site.

      Your comments and reasoning are refreshing and most welcome.

  50. Eklavya
    April 1, 2010

    It was such an unusual sight seeing Arsenal playing on counters.

    IMO, Arsenal’s best player was Nasri tonight. He played intelligently and he was the only dangerous player for a long long while. Of course, Walcott killed us, but Nasri was still awesome today.

  51. timao
    April 1, 2010

    everything i’ve read here seems fairly balanced if anything you are harsh on the barca players who played really well. but saying that cesc dived??? i’ve rarely seen a more clear cut penalty in all my puff!!! dive????????????????? that’s HILARIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!

  52. Vj
    April 1, 2010

    My impressions from the first leg:

    Was hoping that we didn’t falter in the opening stages like we’ve done in so many away matches.. Great 1st 25 mins – Should’ve killed the match there itself.. We were on a different level than Arsenal – But we should’ve made the scoreline reflect that..

    After scoring some 11 goals out of 13 that we scored, Messi has failed to score in the last three games.. Had his finishing been better, there’d be no cause of complaints about his effort..

    Ibra did great in the second half, still should’ve done more in the first..

    Pedro! looked lost out there, couldn’t really do much with the ball, needless to say, we need a proper, ‘goal’-minded LW..

    Alves got caught out waaay too much for my liking, allowing Nasri some chances..

    Arsenal fans, next time you accuse an EPL club for being too physical, try to look at you’re own players first – Song was fouling Xavi all the time, and others were not too forgiving either.. Five yellows were given to your players, Beautiful Football, NOT!

    So, no Pique/Puyol for the 2nd leg, Hopefully we see a Yaya-Milito pairing with Abidal as LB.. Wouldn’t like to see Rafa on the pitch, Txigi? Lets see what Pep does..

    Pedro should not start in the 2nd leg, Hopefully Iniesta comes back into the side in time.. But he shouldn’t play LW.. Pep, you got some serious think to do..

    VV, if you’re gunning for a spot in the NT, you should not concede those kinda goals, that said, still a brilliant showing to deny Bendtner and others..

    Cesc – Dive? I think not, Penalty? pretty soft. Busacca got that wrong there.. The yellow/red debate is irrelevant, Puyol would’ve been suspended anyway.. Not a convincing performance from him anyway.. I’d be pretty angry if we threw a ton of money for him, We’ve got Xavi(MOTM) and Iniesta..

    This game should serve as a lesson not only to Barca, but to us all, NEVER GET COMPLACENT! Again, 2-2 isn’t a bad result to take home to..
    Hoping we get the job done @ Camp Nou..

  53. timao
    April 1, 2010

    Vj “Arsenal fans, next time you accuse an EPL club for being too physical, try to look at you’re own players first….” – don’t talk rubbish man. those yellows were soft by our standards. if those were the kind of fouls we experienced in the EPL for a start half wouldn’t even be fouls let alone cards! what we complain about is having players put in hospital and worse, having their careers and limbs threatened by physical assault. you don’t have a clue, amigo.

    • cliveee
      April 1, 2010

      thats why epl has the wrong standard. if you can complain about your injuries, don’t be proud of your so-called tough and physical standard because that is putting every player’s legs at risk.

  54. Eklavya
    April 1, 2010

    Let’s be clear about this. Those who say Barca were “out of breath”.
    Arsenal were fouling all time. They were frustrated, never getting the ball. I agree with Vj, Song was hacking Xavi down they were getting in a frenzy as most clubs do when they get annoyed. Lyon did it last year, Chelsea always do it, etc etc.

    To some fans who don’t understand: we have the advantage.

    • Ben Gooner fan- Barca admirer
      April 1, 2010

      hmmm, don’t agree with that. I don’t think arsenal were overly fouling and the ref was pretty poor…. In fact the only deliberate foul was Diaby’s at the half way line when he gave the ball away…. please point out any other deliberate fouls if you disagree….. arsenal got back in the game by playing!

      • Eklavya
        April 1, 2010

        Sorry, I didn’t mean them fouling all the time. If I remember it was before the 10 – 15 mins before the insertion of Walcott. In that time the players were getting some frustrated and fouling.

        But you’re right they’re weren’t over fouling, and they did keep playing till the end. They deserve some credit after all 🙂

        • Ben Gooner fan- Barca admirer
          April 1, 2010

          agreed, arsenal were chasing shadows!… it was so weird to watch for me, the in the EPL it’s always arsenal who are creating and keeping the ball even away to chelsea when we lost two-nil we had about 70% of the ball… the trouble last night was that arsenal didn’t know what to do without it and stood off too much… barca showed real desire to get the ball back every time they lost it…. I hope arsenal can learn from them!
          P.S. Good luck in the league hope you smash the wankers from “the place we cannot name”….. hate Ronaldo with a passion!!!!!

          • Helge
            April 1, 2010

            haha, thanks 😀

            We’ll do our best!

          • Eklavya
            April 1, 2010

            You aren’t the only one in that domain. We suck without the ball too. Guardiola said it after last season’s final and this season we’ve seen it more often. It’s only logical, if you play 99% of the times with more possession that the other team, who cares when you don’t have the ball?

        • Vj
          April 1, 2010

          Second that.. Full credit to Arsenal for the comeback.. That they can play well is what we all know, why they aren’t consistent is a mystery!

          • Ben Gooner fan- Barca admirer
            April 1, 2010

            we’re not consistent because we still get bullied by the big boys… I can see that Barca have enough men in the team to stand up for themselves, especially against chelsea and man u last year….. If arsenal can hang on to their players for a few more years I really think you’ll see us dominate the EPL….and consistently meet Barca in the CL FINAL!!!!

  55. Ben Gooner fan- Barca admirer
    April 1, 2010

    Great article about a great game of football! I totally agree that Barca should of wrapped it up but am so happy that we hung in there as we’re gonna see another humdinger on Tuesday…. Xavi for me was the best player on the pitch by a mile, unbelievable ball-retention and never a sloppy pass, truely awesome!
    I have to commend my beloved Arsenal for keeping to their beliefs and trying to play their way out of a (seemingly) insurmountable hole… if you think back to Chelsea last year who just tried to stop every creative moment by playing non-football and then moan at the ref for deservedly going out…. I think you have to agree that their was real bravery from arsenal sticking to their guns (no pun intended!)

  56. Bojan
    April 1, 2010

    Well, i read all the disputes about the Cesc master dive, and frnakly if it wasn’t a dive witch purely can be seen that Puyol was blocking the shot and fabregas shot puyol actually when the ref whistled that had to be a penalty, what else. What is getting me pissed big time is why on Earth would you give a red card to a non aggresive tackle. I mean if it was from behind then ok, but red for a block? Come on Bussacca humiliated himself. And also what made me proud was with even shorthanded we landed and builded attacks opposite of the arsenal “so called” fans who state that we were faggots. We discussed at the LiveBlog yesterday for not putting yaya the destroyer in the game. If he would been introduced earlier in the game not 4 all 11 arsenal player would have been injured 😉

    And also i want to appoligise to the fans at the liveblog yesterday for early selfseen statments that i posted 🙂 guys that was actually what i was yelling (red card, foul, penalty etc.) i got many fans there confused so now i appologise. 🙂 i am just a furious fan and i when i watch barca i very often lose my voice for the other day. hahaha GLORY TO BARCA. VISCA LA BARCA!

    And for the ukfootball fan dude. Oh bring it on bro i am european to we can talk football whenever you like. The americans are splendid Kxevin just keep on bro im with you. you make pretty good reviews and previews and dont mind others. This is our Barca Fan Blog. So all the rest can just fuck off. Salutes to all our fans. Greets.

    • Eklavya
      April 1, 2010

      You got integrated in BFB very fast… 🙂

      • Bojan
        April 1, 2010

        well i think so 🙂 i was looking for a nice barca blog 😉

  57. Arsenal4life
    April 1, 2010

    BACK,

    IS THAT THE BEST YOU COULD DO.

    COULDN’T EXPECT MORE.

    HAAAAAAAAAAAAAA,

    • Ben Gooner fan- Barca admirer
      April 1, 2010

      hmmmm, I smell a rat…. you’re a Madrid fan, aren’t you?!!!

  58. Arsenal4life
    April 1, 2010

    HONESTLY,

    NO, I AM NOT A FAN OF A CLUB THAT IS FILLED WITH HOLLYWOOD STARS.

    I AM A FOOTBALL FAN. AND FOOTBALL MEANS ARSENAL.

    I CAN NEVER SUPPORT A TEAM THAT PAYS MONEY TO WIN.

    AND TO ADD A POINT TO LA LIGA, IF BIRMINGHAM IS TO PLAY IN LA LIGA THEY WOULD HAVE WON THE CUP, CAUSE ALL THE OTHER TEAMS PLAYERS WOULD BE OUT INJURED.

    • alves
      April 1, 2010

      let him talk….wait until 2nd leg and he will disappear..trust me

    • jnelson
      April 1, 2010

      HAHAHA true. They should sign Weligton.

  59. Arsenal4life
    April 1, 2010

    YEAH YEAH.

    YOU CAN ALL WAIT AND SEE THE SEC LEG.
    IT WILL BE A SPANISH JOB.

  60. Helge
    April 1, 2010

    Why are we fighting anyway?

    We witnessed one of the greatest football matches of the last decade, which had almost everything. We are all fans from two clubs that try to play football the way it should be played, the beautiful way.
    We are unified in our antipathy to clubs like Chelski and ManUtd. So actually as Barcelona and Arsenal fans, we have more in common than most other fan groups between two different clubs. Let’s enjoy the rematch, which will most-likely be another spectacle and so or so, a win for the beauty of the game. Whoever prevails shall go on to clinch the title. As a die-hard Barca fan, I would still cheer for Arsenal in the Champions League if you eliminate us, despite this rather controversial first leg. Because as Pep and Zlatan said, it is not only important to play beautifully, but to win titles with doing so!

    • j
      April 1, 2010

      Summed it up better than anyone else on here.

      This gooner takes his hat off to you.

    • Hugo
      April 1, 2010

      Well said mate. I’ve always had abit of a soft spot for Barca because I think, even byond the playing style, there’s a lot to admire about the club. I was at the Camp Nou a couple of months ago for the game against Real Madrid and even got myself a Messi shirt (although I get one from every place I go to, Barcelona’s not unique in that!). Obviously for these few weeks that particular shirt has been exiled from my house and is being looked after by a female friend who I knew wouldn’t be watching the game! Anyway, enough of this love-in- we’re still going to win 2-0 at the Camp Nou!

      • April 1, 2010

        Whoa! I was there, too! Went to the Inter match, as well. We should do some sort of “match rendezvous” thing so that people know when other board members are going to matches.

  61. Arsenal4life
    April 1, 2010

    HELGE, RESPECT TO YOU FOR APPRECIATING THE REAL MEANING OF FOOTBAL.

  62. Eklavya
    April 1, 2010

    Don’t feed the trolls, guys …

    What’s with the hate anyway? We are no Chelski, you are no Real Madrid. 🙂

  63. gunther
    April 1, 2010

    I gotta say (beening a arsenal fan) this is a great blog…fair play!!! I think your beening a wee bit harsh on some of the barca players ratings (except maxwell lol).

  64. Eklavya
    April 1, 2010

    BTW, the Arsenal offside, has a good review as well:

    *http://arsenal.theoffside.com/team-news/arsenal-2-barca-2-outclassed-arsenal-miraculously-pull-out-costly-draw.html

    • Eklavya
      April 1, 2010

      “My first response on seeing the penalty call was “that’s not a penalty.” I think it’s much closer on replay — after all, Puyol did tangle up Cesc’s leg and send him to the ground without getting any of the ball. But on the other hand, Puyol was actually trying to avoid contact, and it was Cesc who actually swung his right leg into Puyol’s legs to cause the entanglement in the first place. It’s the kind of thing that I think is usually given as a foul outside of the box, so technically it should be a penalty inside the box as well. But we all know that there is generally an unwritten rule that there’s a higher standard for the awarding of penalties in the box, and I’m not sure this qualifies. So after looking at it several times, I think it has to be acknowledged that it wasn’t a travesty (and Cesc certainly didn’t dive to try to earn the penalty), but it was a questionable penalty, and a very harsh red card on Puyol.”

      -Arsenal offside

      I think that is the fairest review on the penalty.

  65. Oskar
    April 1, 2010

    Haha you gotta be kidding me. Of course it was a penalty. Puyol locked Fabregas shooting leg when he was 1on1 with Valdes. The referee had no choice. A really clumsy challenge by Puyol, intentional or not, the referee had to give a red as it was a clear cut goalscoring chance.

    You deserved to win this game and I admired the way you played but for god sake don’t whinge about a clear cut penalty. You have to be bigger than that!

  66. Helge
    April 1, 2010

    by the way, this is a great article imo:
    *http://soccernet.espn.go.com/columns/story?id=764501&sec=uefachampionsleague&root=uefachampionsleague&cc=5739

    And news from the Arsenal injury front: Arshavin out for 3 weeks, Cesc and Gallas most-likely for the remainder of the season.

  67. Barnet Gooner
    April 1, 2010

    All the mojitos who are calling Puyol’s foul on Cesc a DIVE FROM CESC. How about
    1. Barca player falling down on slightest of touch, was it only me or did anyone else notice that Xavi acted like a three legged pony as soon as he was tocuhed by ay of Arsenal Players,
    2. Sergio acting to get a player booked when Cesc took the ball cleanly from him,
    3. Maxwell dive on slightest of shoulder touch from Theo.

    As for the red card, it was harsh but it was also a penalty as Puyol had no intention of playing the ball and was tryig to make contact with Cesc leg to disbalance him when Cesc was taking a shot. Puyol got that wrong and ended up catching Cesc’s leg. I didn’t see any Arsenal player asking for a card, yes they were shouting for the penalty. Rewind back to Paris final, more than half of the Barca team was asking for a Card. That is the difference between Barca and Arsenal.

    Arsenal team will be more positive that the Barca team for second leg based upon the last 20 minutes the game. And it will be a good game to watch.

  68. April 1, 2010

    “This was a characteristic of the end of the Rijkaard regime …”

    That’s the best description I’ve heard for the last bit of the match. My only hope is that it serves as a wake-up call for the team.

  69. April 1, 2010

    Many of you will notice that the number of comments are shrinking before your eyes. Good reason.

    We have a level of discourse here that should be respected. What some here are doing is tantamount to visiting someone’s house, urinating on the walls and setting the furniture afire. It’s unacceptable.

    We can, and should be able to discuss what really was a thrilling match, without resorting to name calling and other foolishness. Other contentious posts on other blogs result in comments being disabled. That will not happen here. Offensive comments, from our own as well as visitors, will be deleted, and the discussion will continue as if such things never happened. If it continues, URLs will be banned.

    To the residents of the house, and the Gunners fans who came here to discuss the match, rise above. Stay classy, and let us deal with the miscreants.

    Thanks, everyone.

    • April 1, 2010

      Considering what they were replying to, I’ve never been happier to have a comment deleted. Thanks Kevin!

  70. MoSSi
    April 1, 2010

    Anyone noticed when Messi shines, Ibra has a bad stretch of games.
    When Ibra shines and is scoring, Messi takes a step back..
    Why can’t they both shine at the same time?!!:-D

    • Helge
      April 1, 2010

      Because they don’t want the universe to collapse?

      • Eklavya
        April 1, 2010

        I think The Yaya has more influence in games that we think … 😀

      • Blow-Grenade
        April 1, 2010

        That is a hilarious response!!!!

  71. poipoi
    April 1, 2010

    I have no intention on going anywhere near arsenal fans to trash them, why do they hate us? is it inferiority complex? I think so … we destroyed them yesterday. We went out from that stadium undefeated with a busi goal giveaway and with an unfair penalty against, plus we showed them how they wish to play 😉

    • April 1, 2010

      Only when you are a Cule are you ridiculed because your team went to a another country, which is colder than norm, to one of the more intimidating away grounds in Europe, with a striker who hadn’t scored against an English team in 10 games, had 65% possession, got two away goals, and ended up tying the game.

      To me, any form of mockery in that context only serves to demonstrate exactly how good Arsenal fans think we are. They are proud of what would essentially be considered a failure against any other team. If this was ManU they had just played, would they be so happy with the result knowing Old Trafford lie waiting for them.

      Well let me be the first to welcome Arsenal to the Camp Nou. The other 100,000 will welcome you in 6 days: Blaugrana al vent, Un crit valent.

      • Helge
        April 1, 2010

        … tenim un nom, el sap tothom
        Barça, Barça, Baarçaaa!!!

  72. ermengol
    April 1, 2010

    what a crack!

    have to disagree with comments about the mister’s subs. i thought they made sense considering the coming week and us being 2-0 then. some folks on the field (yes, busi, i mean you) folded into nonchalance too soon.

    but all in all, to quote el mister: “I am proud of my team and a performance that was the best we have produced away from home in the Champions League. Even last season when we won every trophy, we never played as well as this away from the Nou Camp. We kept the ball so well, didn’t give Arsenal a chance to play and all that was lacking was the focus at the end as the tie could be over now. Still, we are happy with 2-2 because this is always a good result in an away leg.”

    amazing game!

  73. April 1, 2010

    Alright…my DVR didnt record the game as I just noticed. Perfect game for the IT shit to get drunk, right?!

    Any liks to download this? Its all Busquets and Ibra fault! 😀

    • Vj
      April 1, 2010

      Wait I thought it was my curse 😉

      You can find the download links here..

      • April 1, 2010

        If anybody comes across an English language download (in non-rar format), please post it here. Many thanks.

      • Mat
        April 1, 2010

        Did the links work?? when I try to extract the rar files for first half, it shows that the 2nd, 5th and 6th files are corrupt

        • April 1, 2010

          Thank you, guys!

          I got the same prob Mat. But I will try the other options soon.

          • Mat
            April 1, 2010

            yup..Thanks Jnice.. looks like the RS links are ok..I am replacing mediafire files 2,5 and 6 of first half .. check those out Ramzi

    • Jnice
      April 1, 2010

      ITV coverage

      1st half:

      *http://rapidshare.com/files/370471952/First_Half_-_UCL_-_Arsenal_v._Barcelona_-_31-03-10.part1.rar
      *http://rapidshare.com/files/370471955/First_Half_-_UCL_-_Arsenal_v._Barcelona_-_31-03-10.part2.rar
      *http://rapidshare.com/files/370473886/First_Half_-_UCL_-_Arsenal_v._Barcelona_-_31-03-10.part3.rar
      *http://rapidshare.com/files/370473890/First_Half_-_UCL_-_Arsenal_v._Barcelona_-_31-03-10.part4.rar
      *http://rapidshare.com/files/370476057/First_Half_-_UCL_-_Arsenal_v._Barcelona_-_31-03-10.part5.rar
      *http://rapidshare.com/files/370476062/First_Half_-_UCL_-_Arsenal_v._Barcelona_-_31-03-10.part6.rar

      2nd half

      *http://rapidshare.com/files/370493061/Second_Half_-_UCL_-_Arsenal_v._Barcelona_-_31-03-10.part1.rar
      *http://rapidshare.com/files/370491928/Second_Half_-_UCL_-_Arsenal_v._Barcelona_-_31-03-10.part2.rar
      *http://rapidshare.com/files/370493063/Second_Half_-_UCL_-_Arsenal_v._Barcelona_-_31-03-10.part3.rar
      *http://rapidshare.com/files/370494039/Second_Half_-_UCL_-_Arsenal_v._Barcelona_-_31-03-10.part4.rar
      *http://rapidshare.com/files/370494040/Second_Half_-_UCL_-_Arsenal_v._Barcelona_-_31-03-10.part5.rar
      *http://rapidshare.com/files/370494189/Second_Half_-_UCL_-_Arsenal_v._Barcelona_-_31-03-10.part6.rar

      or Mediafire:

      *http://www.mediafire.com/?sharekey=083f4a63779b1018ab1eab3e9fa335ca64b417c1944d42a3

      Credit to Pakman @ fbtz.com

  74. Evil that men do
    April 1, 2010

    When I saw Keita name on the starting eleven I assumed maybe he’s there to provide Maxwell with defensive cover which wasn’t the case.

    It felt like we was playing with 2 men in the midfield because Keita was damn near invisible.

    He’s not comfortable when receiving the ball.
    His dribbling abilities are very poor, he plays on the left hand side of midfield and has a very weak right foot which means he can’t cut in.

    Only time I saw him through out the match was receiving the ball and losing it very quickly.

    Arsenal pressured Sergi into making that mistake which led to the first goal and ultimately put us on the back foot.

    Sergi did play admirably though and really can’t blame him too much because it only looked like Xavi was his only option every time he got the ball.

    Had Yaya been on the pitch he would come back and helped Sergi with his distribution.

    Had Pep made the Keita and Toure switch early in the second half the goals could have been prevented.

    It annoys me this tie should have been done and dusted.
    Hopefully Iniesta is fit for the second leg and Keita and Marquez are on the bench.

  75. April 1, 2010

    for the second leg…

    Barcelona need a decent match and a goal.

    Arsenal need another miracle.

  76. Carle
    April 1, 2010

    Ibra’s misses in the first half were atrocious! why do u guys like this guy? He only scored because of arsenals famed ‘schoolboy’ defending. The goals he really should have put away were the simplest of tap-ins. Xavi and Messi missed, but their chances were a little harder, and they aren’t the 60million dollar strikers Ibra is. A disgrace that will hurt barcelona at some point

    • Eklavya
      April 1, 2010

      You want us to hate someone who misses easy goals but scores hard ones?

  77. Helge
    April 1, 2010

    Cesc is out for at least 6 weeks, so he’ll miss the rest of the season, but will be ready for the preparation of the World Cup. Arsenal paied a lot to get the draw…

  78. Kxevin
    April 1, 2010

    We like Ibrahimovic because he can do what he did yesterday, and can have 18 goals (so far) in what people are saying is a “crappy” season. 😀

    Our first half finishing wasn’t as sharp as it should have been. Put balls to either side of Almunia, instead of directly at him, and it’s 4-0 by the half. But that’s life. And actually, Xavi’s miss was the worst one, for my money. He had the whole goal to shoot at, and put it right in Almunia’s hands.

  79. Kari
    April 1, 2010

    Well, this got pretty ugly, pretty fast.

    I don’t want to get caught up in the penalty ‘debate’. Cesc went to kick the ball, but ended up kicking Puyol’s leg and went to ground. No way a penalty and no way a red card, but no way that was a dive. However in real time, it looks like one and was given.

    I don’t really buy the ‘playing with fear and we’ll actually show up in the second leg’ point that a lot of Arsneal fans are trying to make.

    In my opinion, Arsenal didn’t really play that badly in the first half (and much of the second half). It’s just that they weren’t allowed to play, so to speak. Attack-minded players, ie. Diaby, Arshavin, Nasri, etc., were made to defend; a team that is used to being the one attacking was made to defend, something they’re not only not accustomed to, but pretty bad at.

    We KNOW that Barca without the ball are not a very good team. Pep admitted it himself, and we freely admit that. It’s just that Arsenal are worse. It’s one of the main reasons why I think the second leg will go pretty much like the first 70 or so minutes. You will learn from your mistakes and probably play better, but we’ll also learn from our mistakes and could probably play better.

    I’m really looking forward to the second leg.

    Sensible Arsenal fans, welcome. As for trollers, you’ve two or so more days. Atletic Bilbao will be an intersting game. I want to see a good response from the team.

    P.S. It looked to me that Messi was playing the so-called ‘Thankless-Ibra’ role yesterday (dragging out defenses, linking play, etc). One of the reasons I think Ibra had some much space for the two goals is beacuse runs that Messi was making off the ball took the Arsenal defense with him. But anyway.

    • Blow-Grenade
      April 1, 2010

      Totally agree with your PS. I think Messi created the space for Ibra to put those goals in.

  80. Jose
    April 1, 2010

    Gallas and Fabregas won’t play another competitive fixture until the World Cup.. :-/

    • Jose
      April 1, 2010

      This was confirmed in the Arsenal website.

    • lovelymofo
      April 1, 2010

      Dude, that sucks for Arsenal. Wenger gambled and totally lost. I mean, talk about making it super-difficult to win league or champions.

      I do hope Fabregas gets to participate in the World Cup. Not a starter, but is always a key sub.

      • Jose
        April 1, 2010

        I know… I don’t even really support their teams at the World Cup, and yet you can’t help but be saddened on a personal level for these two.

        Sucks…

  81. Hugo
    April 1, 2010

    Good write up, but how anybody can say Cesc dived is beyond me! Cesc kicked Puyol’s leg but Puyol was clumsy in putting himself in that position without geting the ball. It was never a red card but anyone saying it was a dive is just making themselves look bitter and childish.

    • Hugo
      April 1, 2010

      P.S. It’s been confirmed he broke his leg in the tackle- pretty extreme for a ‘dive’!

  82. vicsoc8
    April 1, 2010

    Haven’t read all the comments, so I apologize if someone has already said what I’m about to say.

    I’m honestly a bit surprised with all the pessimism. Despite having an awful let down at the end of the game, we finally played football that convinces me that we can win the Champions League again. Yes we let up, but chalk that up in the “very important lesson learned” category – and we didn’t even suffer too much from learning the lesson.

    Keita definitely should have started over Yaya, as Keita is more versatile and therefore gave us the option to change our style when necessary. We were really playing a hybrid of our typical 4-3-3 and our new 4-2-4 formation, and with Yaya on the field this doesn’t work. On the Keita note, I find it funny (although somewhat demeaning) you say you wish a grownup were in his place, the dude is 30.

    With that said, Guardiola’s poor/lack of substitutions killed us. After Walcott’s first run against Maxwell Pep needed to tell Keita to play more defensively on further left to help out, while at the same time bringing on Yaya for Pedro to provide steel in the midfield, moving to 4-4-2 essentially. Henry for Ibra was an awful decision, we needed to control the tempo and kill the match, and Ibra is a better choice for that. As soon as Pique gets his yellow card Milito should have been on for Puyol, so we would definitely have one of them available for the return leg. We were understandably tired after our balls to the wall first half, but some fresh legs needed to be inserted, specifically in the midfield.

    This is a matter of how you see it, but I’m glad Ibra finally learned how to beat the offside trap. Ultimately it takes two for the pass and reception, you say people are passing quicker, I say Ibra is making better runs, but in the end its just better understanding between the players.

    • April 1, 2010

      Poor word choice. Perhaps “behemoth” would have been better. 😀 But I think that Keita and Busquets aren’t the best combo for my platter, certainly not when Busquets gets tired, which is when he becomes mistake-prone. He loses his sharpness.

      Then what happens is with Keita running around doing his yeoman thing, Busquets winds up having to make riskier and riskier passes. The Yaya tends to home around Xavi, which means that there are always outlets.

      Xavi also let things get out of hand during our funky patch, but that was where we missed Iniesta the most. Should Messi have dropped back to do midfield possession duty with Xavi? Maybe. But I also think that substitutions have to make up for that. The Yaya for Keita would have helped immensely. Ditto for Henry for Pedro. But that’s just my opinion.

      • Eklavya
        April 1, 2010

        Messi definitely should have come back to the midfield. He wasn’t helping out much on the offense. I was pretty disappointed with Messi yesterday.

      • vicsoc8
        April 1, 2010

        I completely agree that we needed Yaya on the pitch immediately when Walcott came in. He would have been a tremendous calming influence and would have given us the energy we desperately needed. Yaya would have been the black hole where Arsenal attacks went to die.

        I personally would have left Keita on the pitch and asked him to almost exclusively help Maxwell with Walcott, but that’s just my opinion. Henry came in to try to stretch Arsenal’s defensive line and give us a bit of breathing room, which would have been useful, but I think we gave up some of our control of the tempo by taking Ibra off.

      • cliveee
        April 1, 2010

        agreed for Pedro going out. He was just totally off. loses balls after balls pissed me quite a bit. didn’t contribute too much offense-wise. for the pressing, i’d give credit to the whole team. without ibra’s presence, they were able to push the defense line further up to press us and give us some hard time.

  83. Eklavya
    April 1, 2010

    Completely out of subject, but today’s April’s Fools Day! 😀

    Don’t forget to read Wikipedia’s front page (all rubbish) and this year’s Google’s thing:

    *http://www.google.co.uk/intl/en/landing/translateforanimals/tour.html

    • Eklavya
      April 1, 2010

      Also, when you search something, instead of it telling you how much time it took Google to find it it says random things like “0.10 nano centuries” or “10 sheep tail-flashes”. 😀

      There’s also the “TEXTp” option on YouTube.

  84. Miguel
    April 1, 2010

    i think that dude was referring to real madrid, but i’m not too sure. it’s been drilled into everyone’s head already that we are organic & home grown & have lots of fiber.

    • April 1, 2010

      He was indeed, Miguel. My fault for not reading with sufficient caution. So I have policed myself. 😀

      • Vj
        April 1, 2010

        Boy oh boy, do you see the amount of bile on the previous thread? I don’t know whether its an April Fools’ joke, but it’s doing the trick.. Taking most of the hate its way..

      • Miguel
        April 1, 2010

        ha! so ibra is a little hollywood? i’m ok w/that ;^)

        best 70 minutes of football i’ve ever seen in my life. & that was WITHOUT iniesta! i was laughing hysterically the whole time @ how unbelievably outclassed arsenal were. then you know what happened. big bummer, but should make for a fantastic show on tuesday.

  85. Tyler
    April 1, 2010

    omg I can’t believe the return leg is on TUESDAY, I was thinking wednesday for some reason! Someone please tell me Abidal will be in that starting line-up. Bottom line- Walcott was the difference maker. A key substitution when legs got tired that we couldn’t handle/didn’t substitute for ourselves to stop.

  86. Jim
    April 1, 2010

    Good read as always, Kxevin.

    First, I’m surprised if Fabregas broke a leg in the tackle. His run up for the penalty showed no sign of that degree of injury and afterwards he couldn’t walk. I thought it had happened when he hit the ball so hard. Can’t argue with the penalty but can’t blame Puyol either. I’m more concerned about why Bendtner got a free header down for him.

    MOTM for me was Xavi by the proverbial mile. That was a masterclass. Add to it that Busi wasn’t great (not awful either) and Keita was invisible and it was awesome but as someone rightly said he could have done with Iniesta in the last 20 minutes. I’m intrigued by the thought mentioned somewhere that we ran out of steam towards the end with all our pressing. Thoughts?

    Sorry to return to an old theme but no way was Ibra as good as has been suggested. Don’t get me wrong. I was as grateful as anyone when his goals went in. I thought his runs for them were among the best he has done but Song’s defending was totally amateur. No real defender would have left him to make them. Good finishes though. His first half was pretty poor in general I thought, topped off by the miss when he was offside. He was the right sub – although I thought Pedro was out of his class – because he wasn’t quick enough closing down. However, goals are bringing more confidence so I’m happy that he’s improving.

    Finally I thought Henry’s attitude when he came on was shocking. He hardly ran for anything. I’ve defended his inclusion so far because of his intelligence and movement but if that’s the best he can do then he deserves to spend the rest of the season on the bench. At least Ibra was trying.

    Sets it up nicely for next week though, doesn’t it?

  87. micky
    April 1, 2010

    hehe it sounds so nice, walcott is da name u hv gat to mention abt him others say he is crap bt if he is, why mention him name anything crappy can’t be mentioned abt , he did it and whichever you guy line up he don’t again come nxt wen……!

  88. Merida's No1 Fran
    April 1, 2010

    I tell you what, that Busquets is a sneaky little bugger. He sure knows how to play act.

    I think Almunia should get a bit more credit for the save from Xavi’s close range shot.

    Guardiola stupid for bringing on Henry. When he fouled (i think Song) he looked so sorry, not like a player who wanted to win. He was more concerned with not looking like a cunt to arsenal fans. I advise you sell him back to us next season. 8 million enough?

  89. Arsenal4life
    April 1, 2010

    do you prople honestly believe that arsenal stops at fabregas.

    watch and learn footbal. check all the games we played without him and van persi.

    we always had injured players but we still kick ass.

  90. Evil that men do
    April 1, 2010

    Yaya needs to be played on Tuesday I doubt we would have conceded had he been in the lineup.

  91. Evil that men do
    April 1, 2010

    Did you guys watch Barca last season? I mean the 70 minutes were very good considering it looked like we was playing a man down i.e Keita being invisible the entire match. Anyway I thought we played better against Stuttgart SECOND LEG. Hopefully Pep puts out his strongest eleven and that means Marques and Keita resigned to the bench hopefully.

  92. TerryLondon
    April 1, 2010

    Anyone interested in the fact that the entire 16 players in Arsenal’s squad cost LESS than Ibrahimovich???? No, didn’t think so because it’s quite humiliating put like that for those BarcaBoys!

    And he who laughs last laughs loudest.

    • Kxevin
      April 2, 2010

      We’re okay with that, because trophies tend to cost money.

      I admire what Wenger is trying to do, in building a squad inexpensively, and with young talent. The ambition is noble. But the proof of any pudding is trophies. We grabbed six of them last season, with a starting XI that at any time featured 6-7 players who were raised on the Barca farm. Say what you want about the cost of Ibrahimovic, but how many very successful clubs in the world can make that contention?

  93. AF
    April 1, 2010

    This is all academic really. Three words sum this up in my mind:

    Shoulda, woulda, coulda.

  94. adil
    April 1, 2010

    i dont know what game you guys were watching but i thought all in all the ref had a bad day… everytime a barca player got shouldered he blew the whistle and even gave cesc a card for a really good tackle and gave barca free kicks in really good positions…

    the penalty could be debated but i dont think cesc dove… his leg was stuck between puyols leg and no man off balance can stand on one leg… so i dont think he dove..and what the ref saw was fabs leg between puyols so he had no other option but to award the penalty..

    barca got a few decisions their way which they should have so all in all they evened out…
    barca did deserve to win tho( i am an arsenal fan) and i think they most likely will go thru given the huge advantage they have but hopefully arsenal doesnt give up till the end and both the teams give us one more game worth remembering…

  95. Werx
    April 2, 2010

    Good game. Barca looked the better side by far. Good of Arsenal to stick with it and pull through. The penalty on Puyol was bad luck for him. If it happened midfield it would have been a free kick. In the box it would have been a yellow and a penalty. Last man back on a clear goal scoring chance = red card. Bad luck.

    Saying Fabregas dove is simple fanboi-ism from short sighted Barcelona fans.

  96. Harshal Deorukhkar
    April 2, 2010

    Cesc never dived. Puyol clumsily threw himself in the middle which wedged Cesc’s leg and above all injured him. I would say it was probably not a red, but a definite penalty and yellow card.

    And as someone mentioned earlier – the blog post was good until that picture of Cesc and Guardiola. I did not see much humor in it. Cesc has a professional contract with Arsenal Football Club and he is playing his heart out for the faith shown in him by Arsene Wenger. Simple as that. Whatever happens in future, no one knows. But one thing is sure, Cesc will always remain in the hearts of Arsenal fans and will be loved as much as Thierry Henry was!

  97. November 6, 2010

    Great information! Ive been looking for something like this for a while now. Thanks!

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