Inter 3 – 1 Barça: Keep Your Head Up

Look. I know this one is a tough pill to swallow. I’m right there with you. But don’t make the mistake of blaming refs, of screaming about missed penalty calls, of offsides goals, of fucking disgraces, and all that bullhooey. It’s not even that we were outplayed or cheated or shown up or outfoxed or any of that. We lost and we lost because we couldn’t put it together. We didn’t work hard enough and we didn’t push ourselves.

We looked shaky from the offing, like we weren’t good enough to be playing in this stadium, on this level; they got shots on goal, could easily have been up a couple of goals and then Xavi slots in Maxwell after a bad giveaway by Lucio and Maxwell just strolls to the byline and feeds Pedro for a goal. 19 minutes in and we’re cruising, looking better, looking like we’re going to be able to pull this one off and do it handily. And then, of course, we went and relaxed. Why? Why did we do that? Who do we think we are that we can relax in a Champions League semifinal?

If we thought we could, well, in the 30th minute, Eto’o receives a cross-field ball, misplays it to Maicon, who plays it back to Eto’o, who shoots a horrendous cross through our box and we go to sleep on it. Dani Alves inexplicably sucks and when Milito collects the ball far too easily, he easily slides it to Sneijder who tucks it away beyond a stranded Valdes. An absurd goal off a freekick at the halfway line. But it’s still 1-1. So we limp into the halftime and we can collect ourselves, right?

Wrong. We came out of halftime and…within 40 seconds give them the ball and a full on chance that Pandev couldn’t get to. But then 2 minutes later we gave them the goal they were looking for. Because we kept fouling them without cause and sure, they kept going down without cause, but whatever, we gave them the chance to do so and it’s the Champions League semifinal and maybe we should wake up and realize that. And maybe we should play defense even if Messi is fouled and it’s not called–and it wasn’t really a real foul, but it sure was a ridiculously bad defensive play by us. Stop standing and staring at the ref, Leo. Work for the ball, dammit. Care.

And then, of course, yeah, Milito was offside for their third goal, but we let them walk through our defense anyway. Thiago Motta, of all people, steals a ball off of Xavi, of all people, and slips in Eto’o, who chips to Sneijder, who heads horribly to Milito, who was offside behind Puyol. So yeah, maybe keeping possession would have solved that? Maybe not sucking in midfield would have solved that? Maybe having a defensive midfielder who was interested in playing, you know, defense in, you know, the midfield, would have solved that?

Maybe we’re tired, maybe we’ve got a lot of miles in our legs, but what about Inter? What about the miles in their legs? They’re in the Coppa Italia final, the Champions League semi, and fighting for the Scudetto. Why is no one talking about that? Because it doesn’t matter. There is no tiredness, there are no excuses. We either play to be Barça, to be beautiful, to be good, or we shouldn’t bother playing. And fatigue is meaningless.

When Maicon went down–and I hope he’s okay because head injuries are horrendous and you should never wish injury on anyone–we took over. We started to play how we all knew we could play. Maybe it was Maicon’s injury, maybe it was Diego Milito’s substitution, but I think it was us finally getting into our stride, figuring out what they were doing and, to a certain extent, playing without Ibra. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m pissed that Ibra was subbed off, that we put on Abidal for him, but we did dominate without him. Of course it would have been nice to have someone other than, um, no one to sub on for the final few minutes. Where’s Henry? Where’s anyone? I know that Iniesta is out and that hurt us, but that’s no excuse.

We had our chances: Xavi through to Pedro in the 77th, Pique’s forward bombs, Messi’s runs into the box, a few free kicks. Sure, there were the penalties, but we have to put away the real chances, the ones that aren’t up to the referee’s discretion. Because they are. Because they did. Because if we don’t, we’re gone from this competition.

You all love ratings, so here you go:

Team: 4. Way to show the spirit, folks. You put in 20 minutes of work. Yay for you. How about 90?

Guardiola: 4. Way to show faith in the full squad, to sub on Henry for someone if you really wanted a goal. We need to be ready for these matches and you didn’t help us out there, it would seem. You gesticulated on the sidelines a lot, but were you outfoxed or were you outmotivated? Let us know in the second leg.

Valdes: 5. A spectator except when your defense let you down. You did nothing bad, really, and a few good things, but you were mostly just left out to dry.

Alves: 3. Learn to cross, eh? Sure, you looked to have earned a penalty, but how about not going down so easily for 85 minutes prior so that you actually get those calls? That might be a nice change of pace.

Pique: 7. A rare bright spot in an otherwise gray and dismal blaugrana sky. You could have scored and it would have been brilliant if your first touch hadn’t failed you at the crucial moment.

Puyol: 5. You were burned a couple of times, but you were there and you weren’t horrible. You’ve got to get the boys going, though, you’ve got to get in their faces and get their blood up. You’ll be watching the return leg, but hopefully they can hear you screaming from la grada.

Maxwell: 5. Beautiful work on the offensive end, but, um, how about some of the defensive end?

Busi: 2. Good job out there. You really played…where did you play? Defensive midfielder? Wait, you were in either place? Terrible, terrible match. Invisible and careless, incapable of shutting down their midfield, incapable of opening up their defense. Either step up or go home.

Keita: 4. It would have been nice if your touch hadn’t deserted you, especially when trying to clear in front of Maicon. And also if your touch hadn’t deserted you everywhere else too. But still, you were there defensively a lot and were working hard, which is hard to fault.

Xavi: 5. Another off match by the maestro, which is strange to say, but this one was much better. You still fed several players good balls that they did nothing with, which is hard to fault you for, but you let frustration get the better of you at several points and that’s not a good thing. Keep it together and your passes will find open teammates.

Pedro: 5. Good work today, but you need a bit more steel and a bit more work on the tactics, which would keep you less frantic and in better position. A little more speed in front of goal late in the match would have given you a second goal and would have greatly helped the cause. Still, nice goal, and thanks for putting that one away.

Ibra: 4. You really didn’t have much support, but you sometimes do have to work a little with the team to get the ball and, um, get it towards goal. Your ninja-like move in the first couple of minutes would have been on Sportscenter for years, but how about just scoring it instead? That would have been a good way to start off the match, right?

Messi: 3. You looked distant and un-Messi-like for most of the match. These are the moments when you have to play smarter, not harder, which is something you’ll learn in time, but which, right now, would be great for you to know. It’s not your style, I know, but maybe you can become a passer when you’re shutdown offensively?


Abidal: 6. You were playing well from the moment you got on, you just didn’t have enough time to really make the impact I’m positive you can have. If you’re back and healthy for the rest of the year, the league is ours and we have a legit shot at blowing out Inter at home. Let’s hope it’s so.

So, it’s the Camp Nou, but not until after Xerez visit and we’ve had a chance to get our legs back under us in the league. I know we can do this. In fact, I know we will do this. This club never quits and it never will. Visca el Barça and long live beautiful football.

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.


  1. Don’t worry guys, We’ll bounce back next week. A defeat even as painful as this will do us good.

    First time conceding 3 this season, first time losing more than 2 goals for PEP’s team. There’s always first time.

    Have a little faith.

  2. I believe we will get to the final. 2-0 is easy for Barca at the Camp Nou.
    It’s a historic chance to get to 2 consecutive finals and Barca simply won’t let that escape.

  3. And some stats about our home CL knockout matches under Pep to increase faith:
    4-0 against Stuttgart, 4-0 against Arsenal, 4-0 against Bayern, 5-2 against Olympique Lyon

    I’ll not mention Chelsea here, especially given the fact that Inter is far more like Chelsea than like any of the above mentioned clubs – and I don’t want to destroy faith 😀

    1. Why not mention Chelsea? Our first leg with them was also a poor result and after the first leg we were called whiners and poor sports because we complained about the refereeing. If anything, the events of last year give me the belief that we can mentally recover from such a poor attitude in the first leg and take control of the tie in the second.

      Only now we’re at home. And we have to score twice.

    2. But Chelsea came to our house with the aim of defending a 0-0. That’s the same game plan as Inter will most-likely be using…

  4. Ibra wasn’t playing in any of those games………… Just something for y’all to think about.

    1. He did play in the game where we scored 2 goals away for the 1st time in the knockout round under Pep…

      If Ibra is fit, he will play. I can’t imagine what he and his agent would have to say if he didn’t play in the deciding game against Inter. Especially since they complained after the Stuttgart match.

  5. If Toure can be benched after coming of the season he did then Ibra should have no problem either considering how bad he was last night and other then the Arsenal game what has he done to justify his big money swap.

    Anyway lets forget all that I for 1 will not be watching next weeks game I’m not built for it…

    1. Ermm score a crucial equalizer against VfB Stuttgart in the CL last 16 and score the winner during El Clásico at Camp Nou? However, in 40 games (in all competitions) this season he has score 20 goals and provided 11 assists. Not worth the money.

  6. Good to read ppl criticise Ibra. That means he’s going to score some crucial goals for us soon.

  7. sorry, I did not read the rest of the comments, so may be this is already said:

    In my humble opinion Ibra’s rating should be “0”. black hole! pathetic work rate. our front 3 or front 2 are the real defenders. when they are not upto the task, we lose.

    And Guardiola’s should be “1”. When you don’t sub bad players (players who are bad in a given day), it sends wrong signals to the bench. i would have liked the following substitutions:
    1)bojan for ibra (at 60min)
    2)yaya for biscuit (at 60 min)
    3)henry for messi (at 75min)

    There is nothing in this match to press the panic button – the only reason we lost this was “fatigue”. If you thought the body language of our guys was bad, that is because they were tired. Physically.

    Before I leave, two words:
    1. poor xerez.
    2. poorer mourinho!

  8. i just have to say this, the ref ruined the game. i am not one to blame a game on the ref, but this one i most certainly will. again and again and again. yes we didnt play well, but how can u when a ref is literally taking the wind out of our sails. card after card, when they when in to hurt us with every tackle, getting nothing. what kind of message do u think that sends to the players? how do u think they respond mentally knowing that they could be hurt on any play with the ball bc the ref has no interest in protecting them, and with inter knowing that they could dive bomb for any ball without care. that is dangerous and affects players when they dont want to be out for the season and the world cup. the ref was an absolute disgrace to the game. they should not have gotten the 2nd and 3rd goal. clearly. we desreved a penalty, and i dont care about all this, alves shouldnt go down like he does so he can get those calls, bc obviously we just werent going to get ANY calls. and that is where the real story is. a ref that took us out of this match, just like the ref against chelsea last year got us through to the final, this ref most likely will get them through, and he knows that, mourinho knows that, everyone knows that. and i guess we cant really say anything bc of what happened last year, but the fact it was call after call after call, and i mean wrong call after wrong call. that offside goal was disgusting, the yellow cards we received were disgusting, the ref looking the other way on every occasion against us was disgusting, and most importantly, if UEFA continues to disregard games like this, it will ruin any purity left in the competition. they obviously dont care, and its sad. i dont want to see teams being allowed to injure players knowing they wont get in trouble, and i dont want players worried about being injured bc they are not being protected. it turns a game that should be fun to a game that is awful to watch. when they went up 3-1 i literally stopped watching the game bc it didnt matter what we did, nothing was changing. the ref was a genius, he fucked up the players mentally and let mourinho know he could let his players do whatever they wanted. disgraceful. now lets hope we play like the real barca, and have a ref that protects players and lets inter know if they are going to play with 10 men behind the ball, and they are going to foul, they will get cards and give away free kicks, and we will take them out. if we can play through what happened next week, we should get through easily. but lets see just how tough this team is mentally and hope the integrity of the game is brought back so that the best team actually wins, even if that is Inter. Visca El Barca.

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