Barca 3, Arsenal 1 (4-3 agg.), aka “It wasn’t supposed to be like this”

This was the kind of match that it was for a while, a match that is a little bittersweet for this reviewer, because it wasn’t supposed to be like this. I am giddy with rapture that we dispatched a gutty, gritty Arsenal side, who got in our face for that entire first half, before the match got a bit (okay, a lot) chippy.

But the Van Persie call was wrong, stupid and completely changed the match. It wasn’t how I wanted to win, because now we dispatch another English opponent, and the cries of “Ovrebo again!” will ring from the heavens, rightly or wrongly.

For those who have never been to the Camp Nou, let me tell you: With 95,000+ fans in full cry, you couldn’t hear a bomb go off in that place, much less a whistle. So when Van Persie was ajudged to have transgressed the (very literally intepreted) rules and sent off with a second yellow, it wasn’t how I wanted it to end.

Make no mistake, we were the better side. By light years. Zero shots on goal? Is that playing to win? No. Mind you, we had a little something to do with that.

Usually before he is about to have a big match, Messi has the “Godfather” stare. This match, every player on the side had it, and you just knew that it was going to be one of those matches of the kind where we display our absolute best, and we did. Part of why Arsenal didn’t have any shots on goal is because we didn’t let them have the ball with a moment’s peace. If someone can recall a match in which our pressure was as relentless, I await the information, because I just can’t recall us ever pressing like we did, for as long as we did.

Yes, we did for some of the match at the Emirates, but not enough of it, and not as intensely. For this match, the lineup of Valdes, Alves, Busquets, Abidal, Adriano, Mascherano, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Pedro!!, Villa pressed like crazy men for every moment of the match, refusing to allow Arsenal any time on the ball. Every time they got the ball, pressure forced it loose, and we were coming back at them, with Attack of the Waterbugs, aka Midget Wars!

And the chances were coming, because Arsenal, frankly, were playing like a bottom-table Liga side who came in the Camp Nou and decided to play for a draw from the moment they stepped off the bus. Yes, if they could hold us scoreless, they would advance. You can see the logic in that approach, but Arsene Wenger’s charges deserved better. If you are going to go out of Europe, don’t go out with no shots on goal, your only goal being a lucky own goal off a deflected Busquets header. We had 47 touches in the Arsenal box. They had 2 in ours. In the Camp Nou, 10 men behind the ball will only get you beaten, as it should. Play football, or go home, because the Footy Gods don’t like when excellent footballing sides play not to concede.

What that means is that you are saying that you are facing a much better side, and are just going to turn turtle, and kick every ball away that you can. And for a while it worked, as Arsenal took a relentlessly physical and aggressive approach, relying on team speed and positioning to keep us away. Even still, there were signs. A sloppy Villa first touch led to one goal spurned. Pedro!! had another chance that went a-begging, as he was in full tasmanian devil mode, terrorizing Arsenal’s back line with his constant motion.

You knew what kind of a match it was going to be for Arsenal, when Alves spanked a bullet of a free kick that their keeper caught wrong, and did some damage to his hand. The shot looked hard, but harmless enough. Nonetheless, it was time for Almunia to come on, a substitution that also took away one of their three potentially match-changing subs. And still, we came running at them, like pit bulls unleashed until finally, a neat series of close touches found Messi scurrying in the box, only to run afoul of Diaby. The referee didn’t blow for the penalty, or any foul at all, and I will say it here: He blew the call.

Again, as with the Chelsea match and the penalties that could have been awarded to us in that one, Arsenal fans will choose to forget about this one. But it was a stone-cold penalty. And still, we played on, assaulting their box like a team playing for its European life, which is what we were. Usually, we’re the team who is playing a determined, froth-mouthed opponent, but not today. Today, we were the rabid dogs, and Arsenal the brilliant defenders who always seemed to get a leg or a foot in just the right spot. Villa broke loose for a one-on-one, but the defender got just enough pressure to force a weak shot. Chance after chance, and nothing concrete came of it, in a match that needed a goal to heat it up.

“This is a vital time for Arsenal,” said the Fox Soccer announcer as the first half headed into injury time, and so it was. If they could just get to the half without conceding, catch their breath and make it into the locker room at 0-0, there would be a chance. They even broke loose with a long ball for Van Persie, but it was Abidal he was against, not Pique. So rather than being able to outrun the attacker, Abidal was there in plenty of time to make the play, even though Van Persie was awarded an unfathomable corner kick.

And then, the “vital time” became crazy time, as a moment of individual brilliance so absolutely stunning as to beggar description, happened. Of course, it took a moment of incalculable stupidity to facilitate this, but that is so often the case. Cesc Fabregas tried a backheel pass on the lip of his own box, against a club that was pressing like crazy, even more so at the end of the half. It was intercepted as it should have been, and Iniesta played an exquisite ball that split two Arsenal defenders, who looked at each other the way noncommunicative doubles partners watch a ball slide between them for a winner.

Then Messi took over, as he controlled the pass, noticed a sliding Almunia charging at him, and chipped the ball up to himself so that the keeper slid under his self-pass, then Messi volleyed it home. Sitting on the sofa, I just smacked my forehead in astonishment. Goals such as that one are just stupid.

So many things have to happen for that goal to come, but more importantly, you need to have the best player on the planet playing for you, a player who thinks that everything is possible and nothing is absurd, even a pass to yourself in front of the opponent’s goal. Why not? It works in practice, what makes a match, even a Champions League elimination match, any different? Good question, and this goal was the answer. The question also summed up the match.

Our system works when everyone makes the right decision with the ball. When an attack starts from the keeper and inches its way up the pitch, any single wrong decision with the ball can result in an attack derailed or worse, a jailbreak counter of the type that killed us at the Emirates. But not today. Today, it was our ball and our pitch. We couldn’t take it and go home, because we were home. So we just took it, forcing Arsenal to resort to long clearances and passes, in an effort to get players behind our pushed-up back line, a back line that was very different, in that there was pace at every position. So we just intercepted, fed to Xavi and resumed the attack.

Arsenal played hard, physical and fair, forcing the best from us, thinking that surely, we can’t be that brilliant for an entire match. We were. From top to bottom, everyone made the right decisions with the ball almost every time. And if we do that, we are going to win. Period.

More importantly, that goal should have been the goal that opened up the match, that forced Arsenal to come out and play football. That was when you got some sense of how well we were playing, how hard we were working and how much we were pressing. Arsenal had to score, and we still didn’t let them have the ball, until Nasri bulled his way up the wing, earning a corner kick. In it went, and with no Arsenal players around it really, you expected a routine clearance. So when Busquets’ deflected header suddenly nestled into the back of our net, the Camp Nou was indescribably quiet. It was 1-1, and if the match stayed the same, Arsenal were through on the away goals rule.

And then, The Call. Van Persie was sent off on the attack off a long ball, but he was clearly offsides. It wasn’t even close. He took the pass, and fired a shot that went wide of the goal, whereupon referee Massimo Busacca pulled a second yellow, and Van Persie was gone. Yes, it was a stupid call. But we should never forget that if he had kept his head in the first half instead of deciding to, in a fit of Pique, show Alves what for, that would have been his first yellow. Game still on.

Yes, the call was terrible. So was the blown Messi penalty. Even steven? Players make their own luck, by remaining calm when all around them is going nuts. Van Persie didn’t, and that was that. So Arsenal fans can scream about the injustice of it all as much as they like, but if Busacca is as sharp as they would have liked, the match would have been 2-1 at that point, rather than 1-1. Were I an Arsenal fan, I would be directing my outrage at a coach who decided to keep us from scoring, rather than doing what we do, which is to play defense by attacking and keeping the ball, scoring goals so that you can’t score any. It worked, and we move on.

But back to the match, one in which a red card gave a Camp Nou opponent defending a lead in the tie, carte blanche to defend like crazy. But Arsenal isn’t Inter, and we are a much better side this season, as evinced by our second goal, one even more amazing than the Messi goal because it was a team effort that culminated in Iniesta sliding past Rosicky, our secret weapon in the Arsenal side, popping a pass to Villa who one-timed it perfectly for Xavi, who knocked it home for the 2-1 lead.

At this point, the possibility of extra time was strong if you were an Arsenal fan, but not if you were a Barca fan, as more goals seemed as inevitable as the sunrise, as we used the full width of the pitch to attack, attack, attack, attack. And suddenly, we were in their box again, where Xavi fed yet another flawless ball to Pedro!!, who was tripped up. Penalty. Messi smacked home for the 3-1 lead. It was a goal made of hard work, as Pedro!! never stopped running. He’s probably running right now, arms flailing, up and down La Rambla, making pickpockets drop wallets and forcing those EUR2 per can of warm beer vendors to give up their Damm cans.

Arsenal had no answer for an on-form Pedro!!, who when he is on form, works harder than any player on the pitch and is constantly looking for the ball. If he isn’t tripped up, he runs onto the ball and blasts it past Almunia, so why not take the chance on the penalty?

At 3-1 it should have been game over, but Adriano gifted a loose, soft, sloppy pass to Arsenal, who sent Bendtner off to the races. We can thank our stars for his sloppy first touch and an amazing intervention from Mascherano, who toe poked the ball to Valdes, who cradled it, and that was that. We advanced in the kind of at time heart-stoppingly beautiful match that only we can play. We were playing monkey in the middle, and the Arsenal defenders were the monkeys, in a passing display that was stunning. Our display will be sullied by the howls of outrage, but so be it. Fact of the matter is that the better side won. If you don’t shoot at the other team’s goal, you can’t win. Simple as that.

So what were the differences in this match, and the one at the Emirates? Iniesta and Pedro!! played much better, Mascherano, and the decision to start Adriano. The difference that he made can’t be stressed enough. And ah, the aka part of the title: We were the best club. A poor decision gives people reason to doubt that, which is wrong as can be.

Team: 10. This was, for me, a performance even better than the Clasic’s manita, because there was more on the line, against a higher-quality opponent. The pressing and energy were insane, and everybody helped everyone else. I have never seen Villa play as much defense as he did today, in just one example.

Guardiola: 10. He continues to make the right calls. Adriano and Mascherano proved him right, and the Afellay substitution was perfect. The side was ready to play, with none of that easing into the match nonsense.

Valdes: incomplete. I know, I know. But he didn’t have anything to do today. One of the rare chances that he had to touch the ball came when he was picking it out of his own net after Busquets screwed the pooch. Crazy I know, but there it is.

Alves: 10. Nothing like a refreshed, rejuvenated Alves, is there? He was everywhere on offense and defense, stealing, attacking, passing, even goading Van Persie into his stupid, stupid yellow card. He owned whoever Arsenal put against him, and even threw in an early hard foul, to say “If you want to play physical, that’s cool. We can do that as well.”

Busquets: 8. Played an extraordinary match, until that unconscionable error, a Bad Busi! moment from hell. Never stretch for a header in your own box, because you never know what can happen. Full-on monster other than that, in moving up to contribute to the attack then somehow getting back to ensure that nothing Arsenal tried could come to fruition.

Abidal: 9. Again, our French Greyhound proved his mettle at center back, with interceptions, outrunning Arsenal players to everything that came near him, bring the ball up on the attack to destabilize their defense and going out for coffee.

Adriano: 8. I find it rather difficult to imagine how Maxwell must have felt watching this display. He was a left-sided Alves, something we haven’t had in some time, charging up the pitch on slashing runs into their box, intercepting balls in our end and stealing passes in midfield. Except for a couple of positional errors and that silly, silly pass that could have changed everything, an utterly convincing match.

Mascherano: 9. Except for a few wayward passes, a perfect match, and that last intervention was the icing on the cake. He saved that tie for us with that play that showed his pace, determination and sheer effort. His passes were short and sharp, and he took everything that came near him in the midfield (yet again), underscoring that he should have been in the side at the Emirates. He allowed Alves and Adriano to go hog wild, because he had the middle on lockdown.

Xavi: 9. Command and control, and what a beautifully taken goal. Soft on some passes, and missed some runners, moments that elicited groans from the Camp Nou crowd. But our possession game thrives when he is as sharp as he was today, as the orchestrator of our massive game of Monkey in the Middle.

Iniesta: 9. Someone noted before the match that he and Pedro!! would be our two most influential players, that if they both played well, we were going to win. Ghostface was a killer, with passing, movement and aggression on both sides of the ball. A lovely, lovely dance partner for Xavi.

Messi: 10. What is there to say about our Man of the Match? He has scored more goals, and had more spectacular games, but he has rarely been more influential. He battled for everything. Not some of the things. Everything. He fought for balls, worked them loose, made runs, made passes and drove Arsenal’s defense crazy with his aggression. And man, what is there to say about that goal.

Pedro!!: 8. He earned his second exclamation point back, with an all-pitch display that had him in my thoughts as MOTM. Defense, offense, passing, runs, more defense, possession, he did everything including earning a penalty to put the tie to bed. A remarkable, indefatigable display from a player who is rounding back into form at the right time.

Villa: 7. Errant passes, poor touches and indecision were made up for with that perfect one-time pass for Xavi, a series of other brilliant runs, all-pitch effort and putting out for the colors in a way that made him part of this team’s heart and soul. Usually, you find him playing kind of detatched, even when playing well. Not today. Who was that dude bodying up on an Arsenal attacker? David Villa. Then making passes and runs at the other end.

Substitutes

Afellay (for Villa): incomplete. Not enough time for a real rating, but again, Guardiola showed that he learns from his errors. Afellay was an immediate danger, running onto a killer ball from Adriano to threaten, and then making run after run as well as facilitation our possession game.

Keita (for Mascherano): incomplete. The announcers called it a time-wasting sub, but Mascherano was hobbling after having given his absolute all in stopping that Bendtner attack.

And now, the next round. When Abidal was asked who he’d like to face, he said “Lyon.” Yes, this would not only mean an easy way to the next round for us, but that EE would have been knocked out of the tournament. Who knows? But right now, we get to bask in the glow of a job well done. And hats off to the folks who predicted the 3-1 scoreline.

As for Fabregas, I felt a little sorry for him as the Camp Nou denizens whistled him off the field. He didn’t play in last year’s Arsenal elimination, and he didn’t really play in this one, either. I won’t re-start the row about whether he should come or not. But I think that the display that we put on almost certainly had him thinking.


“It’s your world, dude. I’m just paying rent.

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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.

253 Comments

  1. barca96
    March 9, 2011

    Thanks Kxev.
    I thought you were going to delay writing a review since visco just put up his post up.

    I really don’t think that we were better than on the 29th of Nov.
    We were sharper back then.

    Finally Pep plays Adriano.

    Apologies to “Xavi”.
    I took her suggestion that Pep rested Adriano against Zaragoza to keep him fresh for Arsenal.

    If Wilshere wants to succeed he needs to show some respect and not let his feelings get over his head. Could’ve been carded many times and got in people’s face too many times.

    • xavi
      March 9, 2011

      Hey it’s not ‘her’ it’s ‘his!’ I’m a dude!!

      I probably need to upload a pic soon 😀

      • barca96
        March 9, 2011

        I thought you were another fanboy 😆

  2. nzm
    March 9, 2011

    Great summary, once again.

    It was a strange match!

    I have watched the first Messi goal about 10 times now, and still marvel at his presence of mind to chip the ball over Almunia and then fire it into the net.

    I’ll never get tired of watching Mascherano defend and attack like a pitbull. Finally he seems to have learned how to tackle without collecting cards – he is a sublime DM.

    As for Arsenal, first I’d like to state that they are my favourite team in the EPL, and their performance in this match saddened me, as they can be so much better when they come to play.

    Two points about Arsenal came through for me:
    1. If van Persie had not heard the whistle, proceeded to play believing that he was on-side, and then shot into the side of the net as he did, he deserved to be taken off (red card or not), for squandering the only Arsenal shot at goal!

    2. How on earth does Wenger keep his job, given that he has not led Arsenal to any silverware in the last few years? Other coaches have been removed in a lot less time for better performances than he has given.

    • barca96
      March 9, 2011

      To be able to do that in a match as big as this one is just amazing.
      Its like he doesnt care whether it’s a practice match or a CL KO match. Crazy crazy guy. Too bad he didnt get his hattrick.
      Why did you stop running when Alves got the ball and squared it??
      Usually he is always making a run.

      • poipoi
        March 9, 2011

        I think messi usually pretends he’s making the run so that defenders go up (up for barça) to then stay back unmarked get the death pass and try a shoot. yesterday like everyday we had no number 9.

        I also wonder how can he keep his job

    • stowe
      March 9, 2011

      1.I’m still not sure if Van Persie deserved a second yellow, if it was his first i would have given it to him. At that point it seemed that Arsenal was going to going into super time wasting mode and kicking the ball all over the place is part of it. If he hadn’t heard the whistle he would have controlled the ball, gotten closer to the goal and then finished, he took one touch and blasted it. He heard the whistle
      2. Wenger would probably get fired except Arsenal can’t afford another coach of his caliber right now. They just built that beautiful stadium and are paying off a huge debt. They are just trying to keep their heads above water and play well, if they win silver, they win silver.

  3. lovelymofo
    March 9, 2011

    Brilliant review! I only got to watch this online, but I gotta say that my favorite part of the match came after Xavi’s goal. No massive celebration, just Iniesta picking the ball up and, along with Xavi and the rest of the team, running to the center of the pitch to continue with the match. This team was hungry. And like Pep said, it was AWESOME.

  4. Great review as always Kevin! I love your reviews.
    The picture and the caption at the end is amazing too.

    You may remember me from the days at Pep’s blog. I now contribute at totalBarca.

    I used to comment here but never did so after registration was brought into effect. Got registered now and hope to comment often.
    Keep up the good work! Visca Barca!

    • barca96
      March 9, 2011

      But don’t forget to continue with your good work on the other side too especially on the youth section.

    • NouBarca
      March 9, 2011

      Harsh man, whats up? long time..

      I am glad we are tru to next round. Our nephews can go on to win the EPL and or FA. I still like them cos of their style. Abidal is a gem. Thank God for the day we signed him. Masch is a life saver too.. tho Pretty boy Bender is not AFC quality. I enjoyed the game and I was brave to go to an Arsenal den where 6 of them were there and my bro who is a ManUtd fan.. he also wanted them to win cos he reckons we are a problem for them and every other team, I was calm truout but overjoyed after the final whistle. a
      And Kxevin, great review as always..

      • Hey NouBarca! Havent seen you around for a long time. I am good bro. We still run the match chat regulary. Do drop in some time.
        I miss the old times.

        @Vj Thanks man!

  5. momo
    March 9, 2011

    Love Love Love the caption under the Messi Almunia Photo.
    Epic.

  6. March 9, 2011

    First of all congrats. I was routing for you guys because i got ticked from the RVP mind games/fake injury. Football is played on the field, not in the press. Joga Bonito!

    It’s interesting that you say that Arsenal are a “higher-quality opponent”. In my point of view, I would rather lose 5-0 trying to shoot the ball on goal than to do what Arsenal did yesterday. And despite us getting trashed by you guys this year, the base of the club that was made last year went toe to toe with you guys. IMO, the first Clasico last year was the hardest game you guys had all season. And we played you better than Inter did. I do though believe that on our day, my team has the quality to be up there with the best. But that is your opinion and you are untitled to it, i guess.

    Anyways, once again, congrats on the win. Even i had to say a little something about it on my blog. Hopefully we will be on the same boat as you lads next week. And best of luck to Valencia tomorrow. I’m torn between a spanish club going forward or Raul. Argggggg

    • Jnice
      March 9, 2011

      IMO, Madrid are a better team than Arsenal. If the two sides were to match up, I know who I’d bet on.

  7. jaymin
    March 9, 2011

    We need a strong new center back, one who really grabs things by the throat.

  8. BarcaGirl_Indo
    March 9, 2011

    I remember Messi said that he was really really mad when they lost at the Emirates, and he didn’t talk for 24 hours…
    look what happened when Messi got angry… he has no mercy…

    this is such an amazing review, Kev!
    you can’t describe it better… man, I wish I have your journalistic talent…
    an absolute joy to read, make me proud more and more to this beloved team…

    thank you so much…

    • K_legit
      March 9, 2011

      Angry Messi is ‘I will leave your blood on the Camp Nou grass’ Messi

      • soccermomof4
        March 9, 2011

        Gameface Messi is an UNSTOPABLE footy freak of nature!

  9. Miguel
    March 9, 2011

    my sh*t talking at the pub would have been so much more fun had arsenal actually been able to play football today, & i’m not talking about the red card. i had a suspicion arsenal weren’t gonna be able to cope with song’s absence in midfield, but i had no idea how devoid of creativity they’d be. yeah, it was a cagey first half, but it was all one way traffic. all i could do was nibble on my bunny bowl of s african curry and sip my shock top because, sadly, barca was doing all the talking for me. the football put on by the blaugrana was spectacular, but the game was just sad. don’t get me wrong i had a grrreeaaat time, but i wanted more. what few sparks of hope arsenal fans were given were quelled so quickly that the game was just a big turn off for me. 😉

  10. K_legit
    March 9, 2011

    I said it before and I will say it now..the Gooners were harping ’bout Wishere as if he dominated the midfield..no he didn’t..the goals at the Emirates were smash and grab-s..You could see his shortcomings when he was being completely made reduntant in the middle yesterday..That bing said he was by far the best Arsenal midfielder but with Xavi making 106 passes to the whole of Arsenal’s 110 yesterday that is not saying much

    Surely the Gooners could realise that RvP is in effect talking out his arse?..I didn’t hear any other player complaining they couldn’t hear the whistle in the entire game and that FC Kobenhavn player heard Pinto’s whistle so clearly that he stopped the play…It is obvious that RvP is lying that he did not hear the whistle but he will never admit it because lets face it none of us would..but listen to this..if he really didn’t know he was offside would he have not taken a couple more touches in the box and given himself a better shooting position? and didn’t he shoot with his weaker foot..Before you give me that Abidal was close to him..why wouldn’t RvP dribble and cut in to force Abidal onto his weaker foot?
    But that is just a theory but all I can say is that RvP was a ticking bomb the entire half and so I would have been extremely surprised if he had managed to stay on the entire 90…

    • jaymin
      March 9, 2011

      luckily we’ll never know. on to sevilla.

  11. K_legit
    March 9, 2011

    And guys tonight I am heading out to the UAE for a week..any of you guys in Dubai/Sharjah/Abu Dhabi we could catch up for a game and a pint (well obv not in Sharjah :D)
    Cheers

    • barca96
      March 9, 2011

      Where do you stay?

      I miss Dubai. I love the food(mix grill and mixed fruit drink), the architecture, the malls, the cars, the dessert, the huge sheikh al zayed road and the foreign girls there 🙂

      My Dad used to stay on the other side of the highway opposite of Burj al-Arab, called the Greens.

      • K_legit
        March 9, 2011

        I am staying in Sharjah and Dubai…and I am really gonna check out the food and the women now 😀
        cheers!

        • barca96
          March 9, 2011

          How come you’re staying at 2 diff places?
          What a luxury.
          Sharjah is a good place to buy car accessories.
          My friends used to tell me a lot of people go there to buy wheels and stuffs. He said he sees people carrying wheels at the airports 😆

          A lot of people work in Dubai but live in Sharjah due to the high cost in Dubai right? Thats whtt my friends told me.

          • K_legit
            March 9, 2011

            well my cousin sister stays in Sharjah but I have another cousin who stays in Dubai so I am gonna shift around between them..hopefully i can find someone to watch a game with..

  12. stowe
    March 9, 2011

    We played well, at the beginning i didn’t think we were getting wide enough on some of the attacks as messi and villa tried to make the same run. Pedro was great! I kept screaming in the first half for someone to shoot at goal, we would be in great position and then they would steal it from us.
    Almunia played like an octopus and kept us out so many times. Fun to watch.
    couldn’t believe we almost gave it to them at the end

  13. Bashir
    March 9, 2011

    RvP would never been sent off, had the ref not had enough of arsenals early and ugly time wasting thru the hole game

    They collected that redcard for time wasting as a team, cause they were all over the pitch time wasting and trying stop barca from taken quick freekicks.

    The ref just had enough and took a bad call on that redcard.

    And to say Arsenal parked the bus, is a bit hard on them and us
    What arsenal did unlike other times against is they tried to play
    hard and ugly and were determened to get fysical.

    But they did not park the bus. THEY WERE FORCED TO PARK IT

    Red card or no, bad ref or not. IF YOUR CONTENDER to win what ppl say is the strongest League in the world and you play full 90mins +
    and you dont even manage one shot on or off target, then you got nothing to do in a CL last 8 round. END OF STORY.

    Great review and i love the pictures you picked

  14. Jnice
    March 9, 2011

    Regarding the Van Persie second yellow, when it comes to things like this, I’m always cynical. I think he knew he was offside then proceeded to shoot the ball. Had he not known, he wouldn’t have shot it so recklessly with his weaker right foot from that distance.

    Yes, I know he’s scored many goals with his right foot (including the one against Birmingham), but just look at how carelessly he shoots the ball during that play. Doesn’t look like a serious attempt on goal to me.

    • barca96
      March 9, 2011

      Yeah. No frickin way he would take such a weak shot with no defenders around him and 1 on 1 with Valdes.

  15. Extreme barca fan
    March 9, 2011

    As always great review kevin, thank you
    the team was great yesterday, however i think we can still be better than this, much better, how? if we finish our chances thats how
    I have to disagree on the RVP, i think its a deserved 2nd yellow/red, so does jamal al sharif (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamal_Al_Sharif) who works for Jazeera sports channel, he said in his match review it was deserved, he also said we deserved a penalty in the 1st half.
    The ratings are almost perfect, i would suggest sMasch gets a 11, he was Perfect and his last ditch tackle saved the day, he even injured himself doing it, thats Sacrifice and commitment.
    I’m still jumping around in joy, hehehehehehe

    Go team

  16. Jnice
    March 9, 2011

    Oh, and a word on Dani.

    Considering just last week I spoke about how he wasn’t diving as much this season compared two his previous two with the club, I think it’s a shame he reverted back to his old ways in this fixture. Clichy taps the bottom of your boot and you grab your leg? Come on now.

    That said, he’s still a beast. Terrorized Clichy all night long. Dude effectively made Arshavin sit the bench because Wenger was so worried about him.

    I still wanted to cut his throat for wasting those opportunities in the box, though! 🙂

    • barca96
      March 9, 2011

      And he turned Nasri into a LB.

      That part where he hold his shin pretending to be injured was really shameful. I was picturing fans over the world saying,
      another year, another barca trick.sigh

  17. K_legit
    March 9, 2011

    A frustrated Gooner sayeth
    Get a gun, show red card in Busacca face and shoot right in his forehead.
    We were to make history, and we were robbed by this ref.

    Well you did…
    Optastats sayeth:
    Since Opta started analysing all CL games in 2003, Arsenal are the only team ever to record zero shots in a match.

    History indeed

      • Extreme barca fan
        March 9, 2011

        jnice why are you not sleeping at this hour???

        • Jnice
          March 9, 2011

          I don’t sleep that much lol. Past week I’ve gone to bed on average at 11 am. Terrible, I know. 🙂

    • K_legit
      March 9, 2011

      did his other channel get reported and deleted too?

      • Jnice
        March 9, 2011

        It’s still up for now, but his latest video directs us to this new page.

  18. outerspacedout
    March 9, 2011

    I was so nervous I really couldn’t enjoy it at all. In the Clasico I was confident of winning and super-confident once Xavi scored the first goal, so I could enjoy the experience. My brain knows that this was a lesson in perfect football, if not as arty as the Clasico win or games like the one against Panathinaikos, we just strangled and stifled Arsenal and made a top team, one of the best teams in the world, pretty much a complete non-entity for ninety minutes.

    I’ve seen people say this was an amazing performance, best since the Clasico, Kevin saying it was even better, and so on. But usually in amazing Barca performances I just feel full of endorphins, all buzzed up, but I was too tense last night to feel that. Because at all points throughout the match there was not a second where just one Arsenal goal, fluke or breakaway or whatever, would not have seen them through. At 1-0, it would’ve, same as at 2-1 and at 3-1 (one more goal at 3-1 would have seen them through). So there was an insane amount of tension.

    Also, everyone in the comments of this thread as well as Kevin in the review mentions that Arsenal had zero shots on goal. They had zero SHOTS. Both off target and on target. Not even a single shot.

    As for the debate on whether Arsenal or EE are better, I’m gonna have to go with EE. They have a better keeper and I would also say better defenders, and I would also say Ronaldo, Oezil and Higuain would make them one of the deadliest sides up front. I don’t think Real have as good a midfield though, Arsenal have Fabregas, Nasri, Wilshere. But then again Real suffer against the stronger sides because they sometimes have too few numbers in midfield (Alonso and a DM, huge amounts of space, front four). I’d say Real are just slightly better. I also rate Arsenal without injuries as better than Man United.

    I should watch this match again, now without tension, to be able to enjoy the amazing performance.

    I think we played better in the Clasico though. We were sharper, more ruthless, less stifling but more incisive.

    And right now my United-supporting friend tells me that he saw the highlights and was confident at least that United would knock us out. Why? Because he was sure that we wouldn’t be able to score four goals past Rio and Vidic. I have no idea why we would need four goals though. As if the United ‘oops, I just got bossed by Lucas Leiva again’ midfield are gonna create three goals against us, LMAO.

    • soccermomof4
      March 9, 2011

      Def. watch it again without the tension. I came home 30 minutes in, hubby got off work early and came home for the second half so when we rewatched the game at night we could really notice all the beautiful hard work.

  19. Jnice
    March 9, 2011

    Paul Hayward from the Guardian on twitter:

    We need a new measure to count passes that hurt. Barca’s are bulked up by ‘rotation’ passing. Brilliant. But critical distance important.

    Wilshere indomitable again tonight, despite mistakes. Has the competitive spirit to support his talent. Point made to Guardiola.

    Joker.

    • outerspacedout
      March 9, 2011

      How about touches inside the opposition box?

      47 for Barcelona, 2 for Arsenal.

      Those touches would mostly come from dangerous passes into or inside the box, no?

    • outerspacedout
      March 9, 2011

      Also I have a feeling if they count ‘passes that hurt’ only for this match, the discrepancy would have been much greater.

      Instead of like 900 passes to 100 overall, it’d have been like 100 ‘passes that hurt’ to 2.

    • Nav
      March 9, 2011

      One of the best things about yesterday’s win is the butthurt by the British media and die hard EPL-tards. Really is the cherry on top of an amazing Barca performance.

    • soccermomof4
      March 9, 2011

      How many times did Wilshire actually touch the ball?

        • soccermomof4
          March 9, 2011

          Thanks- That heat map is a nifty little thing. Wilshire is good, and he’s fun to watch every week (I follow the Gunners regularly). But I have to say that Pep is right, we have our B team and youth team full of mids like him. Not saying he wouldn’t eventually merit a starting position for us, but it’s a long long long line to wait in. He did seem to be the one Gunner out there that never gave up!

  20. outerspacedout
    March 9, 2011

    Also, I know I and many other fans here are being bummed out a little over the reaction to the red card, etc.

    It reminds me of how after the 8-0 win over Almeria, I saw Barca fans in the ESPN forums just being bummed about how it would make people go on about what a weak league we play in and play into trolls.

    That made me realize. For so many of us, a bunch of haters are actually influencing our joy for this amazing, amazing side. They can make us fans be gloomy about an 8-0 win? Screw that. Haters gonna hate, whine about cards or refs or Ovrebo or whatever all they want, it should never let any of us feel any less joy at this side, you know.

    That’s what’s happened. And that shouldn’t happen. And it even gets to me. But it shouldn’t. Why should some people being bitter or trolling affect the joy we feel for this side? It shouldn’t. That’s not fair on the team or on us. If we were really in love with someone, people making fun of that someone would not make us feel any less happy about the time we spend with them, would it?

    So all in all this is a call for all of us BFB people to be completely oblivious to trolls and haters and whatever and just feel all the joy you should feel at how great we play and what the team is doing. Don’t let any other factors get us down.

    • Ian
      March 9, 2011

      Yeah, and it’s a call for us not to be the same kind of low persons. 😛

      Ahh, the way of the envious… That’s exactly what it was like on Tumblr/Livejournal when I tried them out and couldn’t stand all the whiny teenage fangirls for only a couple of months. When I found BFB, where everyone is respectful to co-fan or not, and where we can all share the same joy, it’s like I took refuge here.

      That’s why Barcelona-dedicated blogs like these exist 🙂

    • soccermomof4
      March 9, 2011

      “That made me realize. For so many of us, a bunch of haters are actually influencing our joy for this amazing, amazing side.”

      Super point, spaced! Don’t let the turkeys get you down! Don’t let them steal your joy!

  21. Sheena
    March 9, 2011

    Anyone with a full match download link? Pre match & post match if possible…? 🙂

    Going to need to watch this one a few hundred more times before I’m satisfied. I agree with most that it was hard to really enjoy the game since it was constantly in the balance.

    That being said, I’ve spent the entire day with a smile on my face. I love this team.

  22. Diego
    March 9, 2011

    My Thoughts :

    – Pay Dani twice what he’s asking.

    – RvP’s Card was IMO harsh but fair, You can say that he didn’t hear the whistle, but He knew he was offside, Just see how he shot the ball, He had time and space in 1v1 against Valdes, Why would he shoot it with his right that careless ?

    – Abidal should turn into a full time CB and only LB in cases of emergency, Adriano has been great and with more minutes He’ll get better.

    – Wastefulness may cost us in the future.

    – Mascherano and Adriano deserve to start in the future.

  23. Helge
    March 9, 2011

    Brilliant review, brilliant match, brilliant Barça!

    And a great answer from Abidal to the question who to face next 🙂

  24. poipoi
    March 9, 2011

    Adriano yay! it had to be adriano!!! Also totally loved the interplay between the two best ball recoverers ever Busi and Smasch, it was like a game of their own. Busi is a beast what a game he played, and Masche wow that run for the steal to the bernder or whatever. Cracks!!!! My MOTM is don andres iniesta… he.just.is.the.light. Without him messi would have just run into the defenders. People say this team is nothing without messi, yeah right like 2010 world champions 🙂

    I was in the camp nou yesterday and now that I just saw the game on tv again I can say we totally trashed them. I first got the impression that we suffered a bit too much specially 11 vs 11, I have no nails left… but after a second watch the control and amount of chances for us was just insane even 11 vs 11… villa had like 4 or 5 messi also, alves with the ackward pass, p!!, adriano also hit the post once.

    That is not a red card for van persie IMO, but he should have been kicked out before when he hit alves (or should have been killed by abidal). But still come on, those arsenal fans should not complain, messi scored 2-0 in london and we didn’t, besides busi even scored for them. They did nothing yesterday, I’ve never seen nasri defend so much in my life. And cesc playing injured from min 15 as he said? z-e-r-o shots on goal get a different coach already. He told pep in the bench when the game ended to congratulate the ref: shameless

    • Eklavya
      March 9, 2011

      YOU WERE AT THE CAMP NOU?!? YOU SAW THIS MATCH LIVE?! OH MY GOD!

        • Eklavya
          March 9, 2011

          HOLY JESUS CHRIST. POST THEM ON YOUTUBE – NOW!!

    • soccermomof4
      March 9, 2011

      You were there. Poipoi you are the luckiest man in the world—or at least on this blog!

      • poipoi
        March 9, 2011

        (forgot about moderation maybe it appears twice) Really cheap seats, up high behind arsenal’s goal 🙁 BUT in the second half we sneaked to a more expensive zone where only catalan is spoken!! que ambientazo nen (first lesson) 🙂 — what an atmosphere dude

        from here:
        *http://twitgoo.com/20msrc

        to here:
        *http://twitgoo.com/20msrp

        o le le o la la! ser del barça es el millor que hi ha!

        • nzm
          March 9, 2011

          There is no bad seat at Camp Nou! 🙂

          We tried the bottom layer seating once, but the people there were real snobs – didn’t sing, didn’t chant. The next game that we attended, we were back up on the 3rd tier where the real fans are!

  25. Eklavya
    March 9, 2011

    A few things that need more mentioning:

    The Bad:

    1) Alves: We thought you had finished your diving antics. Why do you always have to do this on night CL nights when the whole word is watching? And I thought he wasn’t THAT great. He should have shot more often (he did once and sent the ball into orbit) and be less wasteful in front of the goal. I have to apologize to Gunners for some of his behavior which was pathetic.

    2) Abidal: Whoa dude, I thought you were a calm dude. Why did you grab Van Persie by the neck?! And then pointing to him as if he had committed murder or something. I’m talking about just this play, not his overall performance which was terrific.

    3) Van Persie’s sending off: I know it has been said before but no way it was a second yellow. The thought that he might have heard the whistle is just dumb. As for the shot, he took it instantly as if it was going to be one of Arsenal only few chances on goal – which was the case. Heck, it wasn’t even on target, why bother with the yellow? It was just wrong to handicap a team for that.

    4) Team’s general attitude towards the ref: When Wilshere was down before our first goal, they surrounded the refree waaay to fast for my liking. We hardly ever argue like that. Why are we doing it on a CL night?

    5) Team’s wastefulness: Oh god, someone slap them and tell them to put the f**cking ball in the net for god’s sake! Just. Do. IT. Despite being one of the world’s most goal scoring teams ever we still don’t score that many in comparison with the number on chances we have.

    The Good:

    1) Pep’s decision to start Adriano: See? See? I told you guys that with reps Adriano could become great. He’s still young (26 now, 25 when he joined us) and he still has more capacity to improve. I hope Pep gives him more time (and gives Alves less time because he plays way too many minutes already).

    2) Pep’s decision to start Mascherano and how he played: Oh my god. He was so awesome. I know lots of people say that we loose fluidity when Busquets isn’t playing in the midfield but I think we gain so much with Mascherano playing as well. The dude almost niffed out all the potential dangerous balls with them even being dangerous at that point of time. With Busquets, when we lose the ball we still have to scurry back at times and it’s a bit hectic. With Mascherano it’s like we have another Puyol in the midfield. This guy is so awesome, I hope he stays with us for years.

    4) Afellay knows how to hold off his defender: Someone teach this to Bojan. When Afellay touched his first ball and almost scored it was not awesome because of his speed or his touch but because of how he held off Djourou (who was Arsenal’s best defender) and still managed to take a shot. He should give lessons to Bojan.

    5) Relentless pressure: Man, have we ever seen a team that pressures so much offensively. I’m not talking about pressing the opponent when they have the ball. I’m talking about the pressure WE put on THEM when WE HAD THE BALL. It was killer. I could feel it from my home. We put relentless pressure on Inter as well but this was even more. The way we started the second half and MAINTAINED it was just amazing and in my opinion the most evident difference between the two teams and shows why we deserved to win.

    5) Arsenal: They pushed us till the end. Props to them. Somehow, like Vicsoc, much of my respect for them has returned. I really hope they win the EPL.

    6) The Camp Nou Crowd: Epic. They were sining The Cant (without the instrumental) during the second half. One of the noisiest crowds we’ve had. Similar to the one as last year vs Inter but this one WANTED a win. A bit disappointed there was no mosaic though lol. 🙂

    • poipoi
      March 9, 2011

      2) he MUST have done or said something I trust abi to the bone

  26. March 9, 2011

    The Red card (second yellow) was absolutely right! Watch it again. He HEARD the whistle and still he took the shot. How do I know?

    Watch the move again. Everyone heard the whistle as their body language tells clearly from Busquets (He stopped tracking) to Valdes (who didnt run toward him in the box as he usually does and instead just closed the way for a moral score) and Abidal in between. Watch the sloppy way he took the shot and how he directly afterward looked toward the lines man giving a “Damn that was close!” look. The shot would have delayed barcas build up till they get a new ball. that break momentum at a time where Arsenal were qualifying and give time for Arsenal players position themselves defensively.

    The “I didnt hear the whistle” is a very old schools trick. Stupid decision by the player, lot of courage from the ref.

    • poipoi
      March 9, 2011

      (spanish saying) with the rule-book in hand it is a yellow but only a few if any seconds went by between the call and the shot, besides there’s plenty of balls and ballboys to throw another one to valdes… kicking out a player in CL in the beggining of the 2nd half is too much, even if he got abi mad 🙂 if it happened to my team I’d be really mad. Anyway we would have won also, 2-1 at least, over-time no big deal they were doing nothing they didn’t even score themselves and only in a corner kick.

      • March 9, 2011

        “only a few if any seconds went by between the call and the shot”

        Watch Busquets in this move, you know when the call was made. There as plenty of time.

        If a Barca players does so, I will be mad of course. Mad of him!

        • poipoi
          March 9, 2011

          mad at him lol you may be right. But I don’t see him trying to loose time seriously… no matter what mei thinks about me. I may not know but I do consider that no one should be kicked out for playing the ball or even complaining let me say, that’s some referee bullsh*t players will always have to face. Violence and unlawful game-stopping yes but not that. Bussaca gave them an excuse. He could have perfectly not have kicked him out and none of us would have said nothing. Refereeing is never very objective.

          • mei
            March 9, 2011

            Its not personal , poipoi.
            I may be getting angry about this, but its mostly about the fact that you are stating something that is dead wrong if you take a look at the rules , and you are feeding the epl-arsenal insanity.And I have for multiple times by now said that its not just about time wasting.
            I may not like some of the rules as well , but the game is played around them.

          • March 9, 2011

            “But I don’t see him trying to loose time seriously… no matter what mei thinks about me.”

            Hm…I used to do so when I was a player…sometimes it worked,sometimes got booked. I obviously wasnt thinking about it at the heat of the moment, by time it gets into the head as an embedded strategy.

            So You are right…Maybe I am forcing my own evilness on Persie the saint :p

            Now about the harshness of the decision, it will not work for the referee to decide based on what everyone think. Thats why he go for the rules in the book. Thats why his decision was stone right. If arsenal thought the rule itself was not fair, they should have filed to the FIFA long ago. In fact, they probably benefit from this exact article in the law th most in the EPL.

    • Jose
      March 9, 2011

      Looking at the replay of the match again, it looks more like RVP heard the whistle and then took a lazy shot. 95,000 people, sure, but when the opponent has a chance like that the crowd is usually much quieter (with fear). He was facing the linesman when he took the ball, he had no reaction after missing the only chance Arsenal had had the entire match, and Valdes had reacted as if he had heard the whistle. RVP is lying, and it’s a childish made-up excuse.

  27. soccermomof4
    March 9, 2011

    @ poipoi- there’s a chance of hubby and me traveling to Barcelona next year. Are we going to be ok with a decent knowledge of Castellano and a few Catalan phrases?

    • nzm
      March 9, 2011

      soccermomof4: just in case poipoi doesn’t get back to you, I can reply to that.

      Yes, you’ll more than get by. Castellano is widely spoken in Barcelona. When we try to speak the little Catala that we have picked up, we invariably get replied to in Castellano!

      We’ve lived in Barcelona for 2 years, and I’m ashamed to say that my grasps on the language have not been huge. We’re back in my home country of New Zealand for vacation, but when we get back, my language assimilation starts in earnest. I’ve been getting by on my partner’s ability to speak Castellano. Our Catalan neighbours are telling me that I should learn Catala, but my personal feeling is that with Castellano, I’ll be able to speak with more people in the world than I could with Catala. Once I get to grips with Castellano, then I’ll look at Catala!

    • nzm
      March 9, 2011

      oops – just saw that he replied below in a later thread! 🙂

      • soccermomof4
        March 9, 2011

        No problem- extra info is always nice. THANKS!

  28. Jose
    March 9, 2011

    Also, it’s so ridiculous how Arsenal fans (and EPL fans in general) are calling the Camp Nou crowd’s behavior a disgrace. What, whistling at your players? Relentless noise? Do you even know what home advantage is supposed to be? You do know that not every country in the world has the fan culture of “let’s sing us some clever silly songs during a match”, right?

    God forbid your team ever has to play in South America. Or the Azteca.

    • Eklavya
      March 9, 2011

      I think that’s one of the worst arguments/complaints I’ve heard in the history of football. 😛

    • nzm
      March 9, 2011

      Yeah – they should look at their own behaviour when they play Aston Villa. Their anti-jewish chants and hissing like gas ovens is disgusting.

  29. mei
    March 9, 2011

    I’m really getting pissed about peers here telling it was no way a second yellow card.
    If you say something like that , you probably know NOTHING about what offences may grant you a yellow card. PERIOD.
    If you dont know about something , go ahead and ask about it. Don’t post arbitrary comments trying to sound objective or appealing to the gunners who were rightfully destroyed yesterday.

    • Extreme barca fan
      March 9, 2011

      Couldn’t agree more, its the right(est) 2nd yellow card i’ve ever seen.

  30. Víctor
    March 9, 2011

    Even if RVP heard the whistle, I think that it was unfair to give him the second yellow. In fact, I do think that giving yellow cards for that type of offenses is unfair. Why bother? The goal won’t count anyway, no case with giving yellow cards to players that still play after hearing an off-side call.

    However, at the end of the day… while, yes, there were reffing mistakes in Barca’s favor… there were reffing mistakes in Arsenal’s favor as well. So, Arsenal fans have no moral stand to say that “they were robbed”. The refs sucked, true… but if the refs didn’t suck, they would have had a 2-0 disadvantage against Barca in their stadium… Barca should have had a penalty in the first half… Arsenal fans are just throwing that excuse… truth is: Barcelona was better, Barcelona deserved to pass.

    If they want to complain at someone, maybe they should complain against Arsène Wenger.

    • March 9, 2011

      The regulations were made for a reason. If every time the ref whistle the player kick the ball away, you will end up losing 10 minutes or so wasted time, and the momentum of any match will be damaged.

      At the end of the day, those are the regulations, and everybody knows the deal from the players to the ref. The referee has to follow the game regulations, not his own sentiments.

      • Víctor
        March 9, 2011

        I know that regulations are there for a reason. That doesn’t mean that it is really fair. For example, it’s also unfair to card a player for taking off his shirt to show a message (whatever message) after scoring a goal.

        And while referees have to follow game regulations and rules and apply them that doesn’t mean that they should act like robots. If that were the case then we’d have a penalty about 20-30% a corner kick is done.

    • mei
      March 9, 2011

      If you think the rules are unfair , go ahead and write a letter to the governing body.
      People still dont understand that this is not just about the time wasting , its about complying to the man in charge, not protesting against the referee’s decisions , keeping the flow of the game moving and preventing from breaking the rules repeatedly. 3 of those mentioned , are yellow card offences.

  31. soccermomof4
    March 9, 2011

    Excellent review, Kxevin. Thanks! I didn’t predict the scoreline but I predicted P!! getting back his extra “!” and I’m so proud of him!

    Gameface Messi is an unstopable footy freak of nature! His work rate yesterday was astounding! That goal was a work of art. It’s so good to have the real Iniesta back. Despite the og, Busi could play CB on almost any team in the world (except for the whole waste of a world class midfielder thing). Alves was huge (love that picture- Jack, don’t even go there because you will not survive that confrontation). Adriano-right choice. So glad you rated Villa highly because he did everything but finish. Abi is king! Did I forget anyone?- oh Xavi- This, Mr. Wilshire, is why(among other reasons named Iniesta, Busi, Mascherano) Cesc would be on the bench at our club and you might be competing with Thiago and co. for time at Barca B.

    The red card was bad, but RvP had it coming to him for persistent idiocy if nothing else.

    Zero shots! ZERO!

    Go Valencia!

    • soccermomof4
      March 9, 2011

      Oh my gosh I forgot Mascherano and the 24 Million euro tackle that was worth every penny! Awesome dude!

        • soccermomof4
          March 9, 2011

          Super!

          Hey poipoi, answer my language question above please 🙂

          • poipoi
            March 9, 2011

            of course! – pues claro!

            no prob with decent castellano and few catalan phrases, make sure you show ’em your catalan skills. catalans looove that but mostly will speak spanish to a foreigner

            I posted something up but it is awaiting moderation 🙁

          • poipoi
            March 9, 2011

            I’ll just repost it again 🙂 third time how can I be so silly

            We had really cheap seats, up high behind arsenal’s goal 🙁 BUT in the second half we sneaked to a more expensive zone where only catalan is spoken!! quin ambientàs nen (catalan phrase) 🙂 — what an atmosphere dude

            from here:
            h***ttp://twitgoo.c***om/20msrc

            to here:
            h***ttp://twitgoo.c***om/20msrp

            o le le o la la! ser del barça es el millor que hi ha!

          • soccermomof4
            March 9, 2011

            Thanks poipoi- and I still can’t believe you had the luck TO BE THERE!!! WOW!!!

    • mei
      March 9, 2011

      Again , the yellow card was a suberb call.
      It was by the book , including taking into context the rest of the game.
      It was amongst other things , keeping the flow of the game moving.
      Remember last year when arsenal conceded a goal after an indirect free kick , and were crying about the ref not stopping the play and waiting them to get back into the defense?
      Well , the referee is supposed to be preserving the flow of the game.
      The team breaking the rules is not supposed to be helped by the referee. You are the one breaking the rules , you should be the one taking your ass back into position in time before the offense resumes the play. Wasting time , not complying to the man in charge , repeatedly breaking the rules is a yellow card offense.
      Remember leo’s 3rd yellow card of the season for taking a free kick early while the ref had already pointed out he was gonna blow the whistle for the play to resume? Thats a stupid yellow card. Stupid of messi , nobody else’s.

      • soccermomof4
        March 9, 2011

        I know it follows the letter of the law. As I said, RvP had it coming to him for persistent idiocy if nothing else. I would just prefer that Arsenal be without excuse because let’s face it, the way we played was nothing short of sublime and we aren’t even back to our best form yet!

  32. Kariyanna
    March 9, 2011

    Whew. Awesome review Kev. I have to also say that Van Persie sending off was key even if it was right or wrong. After his sending off I believe I saw SMash in the back line and Busquets in the midfield for a while up until Xavi’s goal.

    On that note I have to say Van Persie knew what he was doing as he also did the same exact thing in the WC finals against Spain (if I recall correctly.) Even before he touched the ball everyone saw the linesman flag then the whistle as the Ref has to confirm with the linesman over the headset. As an attacking player in UEFA or FIFA you know the rules are different, thats why most players check with the linesmen when pursing a run in these Tournaments.

    Anywho on to the next topic at hand. Who Would you guys love to play in the next round? I personally want to see a lil La Liga vs EPL series with ,Madrid vs ManU, Valencia vs Spurs, and Barca vs Chelsea,that is however if all those other teams make it through.
    Another Visit to London wouldn’t be to bad but imagine if we get Chelsea in the next rounds, then Spurs in the Semis( or vise versa) and finally playing the Final in Wembley,London. Would truly be a London Affair.

  33. outerspacedout
    March 9, 2011

    More ridiculousness. Capello says Bale is the best in the world:

    “He is today the number one player in the world,” Capello said. “He is the only one who can make a difference in the role he plays.
    “He has pace, technique and strength. Those three qualities are hard to find in a player who is not a striker. He reminds me of Roberto Carlos, who was born a left back. He was an explosive player and the only one who came even closest to Bale.”

    I rate Bale highly, I’m not one of the people who think he is a one-trick pony or whatever. But the best in the world? Nope. Not even close.

    And Wenger and Nasri charged by UEFA for comments to referee after the game.

    Also, Nasri and Wilshere’s tweets after the game are so…

    Wilshere wrote: “Arsenal fans great as always! Sorry about the result,good luck to Barca,great team! Oh yeah and the ref was good aswell…”

    Nasri wrote: “Thank you for your support once again u were amazing sorry for the result now we have to think about Man utd game and we still have a league to win and by the way bussaca is the best.”

    • barca96
      March 9, 2011

      RvP also tweeted something similar.

      I guess Capello has never seen Alves play.
      I think what he is just trying to find an excuse in the event that his England team disappoints again he can point out that he doesnt have the best player in hte world or a left winger since Bale is Welsh, he cant be selected for England.

  34. cleareyesfullhearts
    March 9, 2011

    Congrats on the win–well deserved in my opinion.

    I really appreciated your first paragraphs acknowledging the injustice of the RvP sending-off and that it might have impacted the game. I agree you’d been dominating up to that point in the game, and that obviously you did afterwards as well, but too many commenters here are talking like they can’t remember a certain 10-20 minute stretch in the first leg (which also came after long stretches of domination by Barca, although not as complete as yesterday) and that at no point in this game was barca more than one kick away from being eliminated. I hate “the ref ruined the game” storylines, and I hate even more playing with hypotheticals, but how can you watch Bendtner’s touch at 87′ and not imagine things being just a little different if that was RvP on the field, or, you know, RvP was on the field with Cesc in an 11-man team? Again, I think you deserved to win, and I understand a Barcelona fan not wanting their win tainted, but it seems a bit dense to say that a 1-1 game was not impacted by a team’s best attacking player being taken off.

    A couple other points:

    I don’t think it takes one ounce of greatness off of him (in fact I’d argue it adds to it), but I don’t think Messi had in mind to chip to himself over the keeper–I believe it was a shot he just didn’t catch all of. If you watch the replay, there’s a half second (less, actually) where Messi hesitates and adjusts his stride…it looks to me right then that he hadn’t counted on the ball needing an additional touch. As I say, if anything it makes his reactions, skill, and improvisation even more impressive. Just an unbelievable talent and a joy to watch.

    …actually I forgot the other thing I was going to say. : ) Keep up the good work, see you guys on the weekend. Kxevin, I’m pretty sure the LFP intentionally schedules Sevilla/Barca games during the most insane parts of my life, but I will likely be waist-deep in articles about health programs during the game and definitely won’t be able to watch. One of these days, though, we’ll have to meet up for a game.

    • March 9, 2011

      In your sequence of assumptions, you forgot to mention “What would have happened if the ref called that Penalty for Messi early in the match”

      Besides, as I mentioned above, the red card was right. I have no blink of doubt about it. But you have to give credit for the great theatric performance by Arsenal players all shouting together “He didnt hear it! He didnt! He didnt!” but he did.

      • Extreme barca fan
        March 9, 2011

        “but how can you watch Bendtner’s touch at 87′ and not imagine things being just a little different if that was RvP on the field”, but RVP wasn’t on the field, he was sent off, rightfully, why ? because he desereved to be sent off

      • cleareyesfullhearts
        March 9, 2011

        Alright, Barcelona fans. Relax. Take a deep breath. No one is impugning your club or questioning the purity of the goodness they exude.

        Look at what I said. You deserved to win. I wasn’t arguing you should have lost. I wasn’t even arguing that RvP shouldn’t have been sent off (I was sad he was, and I think it’s a bummer the game tipped so heavily on a niggling little thing, but that wasn’t the point I was making). What I said was that his sending off likely impacted the outcome. I did not make a “sequence of assumptions”, although if the jerseys were different I imagine at least some would look at the image above and say that contact is DEFINITELY happening outside the box. I wasn’t arguing that RvP would have or should have scored–I just said it’s silly to say the sending off didn’t impact the game, as I have read some commenters here say.

        Good grief you guys, you won; you needn’t be so defensive when a neutral stops by TO CONGRATULATE YOU and also indicates a red card might have had something to do with the result.

        • March 9, 2011

          Hm…we were just responding to your statement to show you respect by telling you that we really read what you post.

          Relax…Here is your drink…

          • Jose
            March 9, 2011

            Remember this is the guy who cleverly refers to us as the Evil Empire and spends a ton of time on his blog whining about TV rights.

            He is a neutral as far as this game goes, but he’s the type who lives to find flaws in everything Barca and its fans do. He was obviously fishing for a reaction only to be “astonished” that cules would seek to correct him.

            Whatever, man, good luck this weekend.

          • cleareyesfullhearts
            March 9, 2011

            Haha, I wasn’t sure you HAD read my post–you both seemed to be responding to a post that said you shouldn’t have won, or that RvP shouldn’t have been sent off, which I didn’t say. For example, what did Messi’s penalty call have to do with the point I was making? Your argument seems to be “yeah but the ref had calls against us, too!” but that doesn’t really make sense as a response to “I think the game might have gone differently if RvP hadn’t been carded, although I think you deserved to win regardless”. I wasn’t putting the result in doubt, just saying it would’ve been a different game.

            @Nik, this is exactly what I’m talking about–I didn’t say it shouldn’t have been a penalty. All I said was that depending on your perspective that’s either a stone-cold pen, or it looks like the actual contact happened outside the box. Please be clear: I’m not trying to argue either way; as I said above I hate these “ref ruined the game” discussions. I’m just pointing out the difference in perspective. So your posting video evidence is beside the point, unless you’re trying to provide an example of how a fan of one team sees incontrovertible evidence, and now I’m supposed to go get an Arsenal fan who will say “yeah, that should have been a FK”.

          • cleareyesfullhearts
            March 9, 2011

            @Jose, I’m not sure why you always ascribe the worst possible motive to everything I write. To my knowledge I’ve never personally attacked you (even in response to your negative statements about me). We DO write about the TV rights a lot on our Sevilla blog, because our president is leading the fight, and because it’s a really important issue, not just to our team but to the league in general, and also because it’s not a topic that gets a lot of english language coverage. Obviously, if you disagree you are free to just not read it, and I’m sure in general you don’t.

            I’m not sure I can convince you, but I don’t “live to find flaws in everything Barca and its fans do”, and I wasn’t fishing for a reaction. I was trying to add to the discussion, and was surprised to get resistance on what I thought was an obvious point.

            Thanks for the good luck, though! I appreciate the sporting sentiment.

          • Nik
            March 9, 2011

            @cleareyes Chill, man. I get the feeling that you’re looking for attacks against you in here. No one is impugning you or questioning the purity of the goodness you exude.

            Your point is fair; people will see what they want. To me, you could put an EE jersey on Messi, and I’d still think it was a penalty. The jersey colors shouldn’t have an effect. The foul wasn’t on the line, as the video shows. But, to each their own.

          • March 9, 2011

            @cleareyesfullhearts You dont have to explain yourself. Really. Whether neutral or not, that doent make any deference. I fight with Barcelona fans and exchange punches with dear friend Kxevin everytime he order his chocolate drinks, and thats often.

            I dont reply without reading the original comment, thoroughly, calmly, inside out, back and forth, and translated to all the languages I know. Less than five. Then respond to what I understand, which may or may not be what you intended to say.

            Another round…get drunk!

          • cleareyesfullhearts
            March 9, 2011

            @Ramzi, I guess that’s what I was saying/responding to; I say “good game, you deserved to win, RvP’s sending off was a game-changer”, you read it in five languages, and carefully think it over, and then respond about how the ref wasn’t fair to your team, either. I was of course being facetious in saying I wasn’t sure you’d read my comment, rather I was surprised that you DID read it and then felt like you had to defend the overall balance of justice of the ref’s calls when that was obviously not my point. You carefully read it, and saw my comment as questioning the outcome (I guess?) and decided to point out that the ref also hurt you guys. Maybe I should have more explicitly laid out that I thought the game’s result was just, but I’m not sure how I could have done that.

  35. gogah
    March 9, 2011

    what a game!! This is my first time on this wonderful blog and i really loved your article. i too felt a little bittersweet taste after the match because i would have preferred us beating them with all 11 men. obviously they will always point to that decision for having lost so thouroughly. but mascha was awesome and i wonder why pep didnt play him in the first leg. with that last tackle i’d say 12 mil? we’re even.
    P.S. i love how van persie tried to explain to the referee about the camp nou crowd.

    • barca96
      March 9, 2011

      Holy crap. I guess the nick names list is getting cramped but I never thought the name ooga aaga would have a similar one.hehe
      If you registered here a week or two ago, it would’ve created chaos here 😆

      Anyways welcome.

      I was so pissed at Pep for not playing sMasch at the Emirates. I thought that he was the missing piece over there.

  36. barca96
    March 9, 2011

    You’re a biter not a writer(other rappers taking shots at Jay-Z) 😆 and me to you(just kidding 😆 ). Its so amazing that move by Messi. He didn’t care at all that it was in a match that could define our season.

    Oh and it was me who said that Iniesta & Pedro were the key, last night before I went off to bed.

    Man..this is so sickening. Everywhere I go, they’re blaming the ref, on tv, friends. They seem to forget that we played our “A Game”. sigh.
    What does this club has to do to earn respect???
    And Xavi didnt help the cause either with his latest comments.

    • Lev
      March 9, 2011

      it’s not at all as if Messi didn’t care. If you look carefully you will conclude that it was the surest way of scoring, the most unstoppable solution.

  37. Diego
    March 9, 2011

    @Ramzi

    This is exactly how I feel, If RvP didn’t hear the whistle why would he take a lazy shot like that when it’s the only chance they created.

    • Ian
      March 10, 2011

      Exactly. And if Barca players can hold themselves from shooting after the whistle, why can’t RvP? In all the numerous times we’ve been offside. Can’t hear it? Apparently everyone held back once the whistle came but RvP. I don’t think the yellow was unfair at all.

  38. March 9, 2011

    A stand out moment for me –

    On one of the few occasions when Arsenal actually advanced the ball past midfield in the second half the Arsenal player has the ball and is moving up his right flank along the line. He has some space as Arsenal beats the first line of pressing defenders.

    Suddenly, almost out of nowhere you see a dot of blaugrana zipping on a long diagonal run directed to where the Arsenal player is headed with the ball.

    And that little dot of blaugrana proceeds to tussle and fight with the Arsenal player and disposes him of the ball.

    That tiny dot of blaugrana shooting across the pitch was Messi of course.

    Maradona never even contemplates making that play.

    The idea that one player scored a goal of that extraordinary skill and made that run to defend in the same game is just simply amazing. And it’s not even as if those plays were isolated incidents.

    His combined game offensively and defensively is just something I don’t think the sport has ever seen before.

  39. Lev
    March 9, 2011

    Great review as always Kxevin…

    Funny thing that…on most blogs the people arguing that RvP didn’t hear the whistle before shooting it waaay wide are the same ones saying that if only it had been RvP instead of Bentner in minute 86 he would have buried us…

    • Jnice
      March 9, 2011

      RVP might not have even been on at that point. He didn’t play well up until the sending off and wasn’t even 100% fit according to some.

  40. Nik
    March 9, 2011

    Thanks to mei, I went and hunted down the rulebook that FIFA puts out so I could read for myself what the exact definition of a yellow card offense is.

    Per the laws of the game:

    Cautionable offences

    A player is cautioned and shown the yellow card if he commits any of the following seven offences:

    1. unsporting behaviour
    2. dissent by word or action
    3. persistent infringement of the Laws of the Game
    4. delaying the restart of play
    5. failure to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner kick, free kick or throw-in
    6. entering or re-entering the field of play without the referee’s permission
    7. deliberately leaving the field of play without the referee’s permission

    source: http://www.fifa.com/worldfootball/lawsofthegame/law/newsid=1290868.html

    Furthermore, it says in the official Interpretations of the Game:

    Referees must caution players who delay the restart of play by tactics such as:

    • kicking the ball away or carrying it away with the hands after the referee has stopped play

    source : http://www.fifa.com/mm/document/worldfootball/clubfootball/01/37/04/28/law12.pdf

    I feel bad that Arsenal had to lose a man to such stupidity, but mei & the others are right. The referee followed the rulebook on that call.

    • mei
      March 9, 2011

      Thanks nik for saving me some time.
      I was bound to quote the fifa textbook if someone went on about this one not being completely justified.
      In particular, I would like to point out that van persie broke several of these rules throughout the match , utterly justifying the ref’s decision.Like I said before, the referee is obligated to not simply judge each action as a lone fact , but take into account the players action throughout the match , since the following rule:
      3. persistent infringement of the Laws of the Game applies, which not only includes the offenses mentioned that may warrant a yellow card ,but even more light ones like fouling etc.

      • Nik
        March 9, 2011

        @mei No problem. I think the confusion arises from the fact that while the rules try to be as clear as possible, their application varies from referee to referee, match to match.

        Do a lot of players do what van Persie did? Yeah. Do they all get carded? Nope. However…the rules are the rules. van Persie shouldn’t have even put himself in such a precarious position by needlessly picking up a stupid yellow card in the first half.

        • mei
          March 9, 2011

          Thats very true.
          If we could capture the referee’s view about this one , I think it would be something like this :
          You got a player , a hothead one , that walks in and tries to stir up a fight after you waved on a legit play.
          No card shown there.
          In the next incident about a minute later , he hits a player while the ball is in the air, deliberately.
          This could have easily been a red card btw.
          You don’t show it for whatever reason (hint : this might be considered taken lightly by the ref).
          Well you are not gonna be lenient in the next incident.
          Not after all these ones , and not if you are taking into context that arsenal were clearly wasting as much time as they could(first half – 5 minutes overtime.).
          And thats without even being able to hear what van persie was blabbing about throughout the match.
          Judging by his after match comments , which will probably get him a ban and a fine , which he already knew about , I dont think he was sweet talking neither towards the ref or the opposition players.

  41. Huckleberry
    March 9, 2011

    remember the penalty and red card against Puyol a year ago in London. That was also Busacca and his strict interpretation of the rules. Similar in the world cup where he sent off a player of South Africa in an opening game – if I am right – (and that was the reason he didn’t get a second game due to political intervention…)
    Busacca is very nitpicking in these rules. But he applies them fair and even. So don’t blame him. Blame the rules.

  42. Miguel
    March 9, 2011

    my psychic abilities were on display yesterday at the pub and i yelled out “yellow card” the second van persie shot the ball, but i didn’t think busacca was actually gonna do it. but again, if he weren’t the petulant angry little b*tch he was all game he’d have gotten away with it is my theory.

    • Miguel
      March 9, 2011

      *& by “he” i mean vp, obviously.

  43. Miguel
    March 9, 2011

    “Until around 22.30 on Tuesday night, Arsene Wenger had a well-earned reputation in Spain for being a bit of an avuncular, Dumbledore type figure: unthreatening, cultured and a proper gent famous for relishing in the finer side of football. So much so, in fact, that Florentino Pérez – seeing the Frenchman’s name in a sticker album one afternoon – even tried to bring the Arsenal boss to the Bernabeu on his return to the Real Madrid presidency in 2009.”
    http://fourfourtwo.com/blogs/laligaloca/archive/2011/03/09/arsene-wenger-from-dumbledore-to-dunce.aspx

  44. Roz
    March 9, 2011

    Is anyone going to download the game and put it youtube or something?

    • Miguel
      March 9, 2011

      would you like someone to do that? 😉

      you listening, kari?

      • Roz
        March 9, 2011

        Lol. That was actully a hint for someone to do it.

      • Diego
        March 9, 2011

        Kari had a year and still hasn’t uploaded the 4-1 match. 😀

        • Eklavya
          March 9, 2011

          Kari if you’re reading this, then THIS match is priority! 😀

          • soccermomof4
            March 9, 2011

            Dang guys, let the girl recover from her sinus infection and get her schoolwork done *mom-like glare* 🙂

    • Diego
      March 9, 2011

      The Guy with the glasses beside him too.

  45. March 9, 2011

    Lots of what ifs, but here’s what we know:

    –We won
    –Van Persie was sent off
    –Abidal lost a point off his perfect match rating for the throat grab.
    –Our forwards need to go to finishing school.
    –The referee didn’t decide this match, the players did.
    –That isn’t going to stop people from whining about it.

    Now. As I note above, for me, I wish that all whining were removed, that we’d spanked them 11 v 11, with Walcott, a healthy Fabregas, and Van Persie on the pitch. Because we were the better club, all day and all night. ZERO shots on goal, people.

    If Arsenal want to blame someone it should be their physios, as they have once again seen a season derailed by key injuries at key times, and a coach who can’t seem to win the big one. To come into our house and try to defend was doomed to failure.

    Yes, they were, for the entire match, one kick away from going through, which made the drama and intensity of this thing, for me, almost unbearable. I was almost numb.

    But do I think the victory was tainted? Not in any way. I just wish that our win was unequivocal. The stats will say that it was, but I don’t want to give opponents any comfort or succor with ref complaints, and Chelsea supporters chiming in with UEFA plots to keep us in the Champions League by making refs make bad decisions.

    If that’s the case, why would the Messi penalty have been waved off, and what about the innumerable Arsenal fouls that weren’t called? Sighhhhhh ….

    –Thanks for the kind words, Harsh. I can echo the compliments of others about what you all are doing over at TotalBarca.

    –Bassam, apologies for not being clearer. I think that Arsenal were a better opponent last night than you were in the Camp Nou Clasic. But you’re playing better now. I should have been clearer about that comment being moment to moment, rather than on aggregate.

    –Jack Wilshere is going to be a midfielder to be reckoned with. So young, so good.

    –Fabregas was pure class for apologizing to the fans via Twitter, and owning up to his match-changing error.

    • March 9, 2011

      @Kxevin thank you, thank you for the extremely difficult task of putting this match into perspective. I had a hard time of figuring out how I felt about it immediately following the end, but after contemplating and reading this review I feel much better and I agree with your entire review. I like you want people to just know that we are the best in the world, and this result doesn’t make it unequivocal. But, I think we will be able to progress in style with our returning center-backs.

      As much as people want to argue about the VanPersie card, the ultimate moment was the Fabregas play. It makes no sense, for him to try that pass, and then not even run to try and recover the ball. At least he has owned up to his mistake, but I think that goal is what sunk Arsenal.

      also, can you imagine if we had gone out of the competition because of an OWN goal. Give us Puyol ASAP!

  46. Eklavya
    March 9, 2011

    Pep’s reaction after the first goal represented my feelings SO ACCURATELY.

    • Jnice
      March 9, 2011

      Yup. I did the same thing except I took off my shirt and was probably screaming louder than him.

      • Eklavya
        March 9, 2011

        I would have done the same probably had I been alone in the house. Instead I ran to my room, jumped on my bed then came back fast as to not miss the celebrations etc.

  47. Diego
    March 9, 2011

    “We played awesome” was Pep Guardiola’s post-match assessment.

    That statement is EPIC 😀

  48. Jackieboy
    March 9, 2011

    Afellay was weak IMHO. Lacked the speed to overtake Djorou (or was it Sagna), and it was just after getting subbed on. And he looked soooo lacking the confidence whenever he got the ball, almost as if he was terrified.

    • Jnice
      March 9, 2011

      He beat DJourou, but he was never going to fly right past him like a cartoon. He also beat Sagna at the end with a stepover, but decided to take it back and keep possession. Rightly so.

      Lacking confidence? No, he just wanted to keep the ball moving.

      As soon as he came on, he had two chances two score, which shows he got into good positions.

  49. blitzen
    March 9, 2011

    Fantastic review, Kxevin! Makes me want to rush home and watch the game again, which is what I will be doing tonight. This bit about Pedro made me choke on my tea:

    He’s probably running right now, arms flailing, up and down La Rambla, making pickpockets drop wallets and forcing those EUR2 per can of warm beer vendors to give up their Damm cans. 😀

    Here are some Blitzen Awards:

    WTF Award: Adriano & Mascherano run for the same ball and knock each other over. LOL.

    Awww, Bless Award: Dani reaches down to comfort a stricken Busi after the own goal. Get up, boy, we have work to do!

    Hold On There! Award: Abidal grabs RVP by the throat. He must have said something really nasty, because Abi just doesn’t DO that!

    My Heart Exploded Award: Iniesta literally launches himself onto Messi after the first goal. Andres should always be that happy, it makes the world better.

    I Got This Award: Messi with THAT look in his eyes from start to finish. Unstoppable. Runner-up: Mascherano. Thou shalt not pass!

    Zees Is Fashun Award: Those enormous and hideous Arsenal coats. I’m Canadian and even I wouldn’t wear that!

    I Have a Headache Award: Pep, because between Mascherano and Adriano’s performances, he will now have an even more difficult time deciding who to play since everyone is now equally brilliant and deserving. The kind of headache most coaches would kill to have.

    • Jnice
      March 9, 2011

      My Heart Exploded Award: Iniesta literally launches himself onto Messi after the first goal. Andres should always be that happy, it makes the world better

      I think that was the fierest, most physical hug I’ve seen between those two. Immense joy.

      I also loved when Pep celebrated the goal and urged the fans to get on their feet.

      • Eklavya
        March 9, 2011

        WTF Award: Adriano & Mascherano run for the same ball and knock each other over. LOL.

        Haha, I remember that now! 😀

        My Heart Exploded Award: Iniesta literally launches himself onto Messi after the first goal. Andres should always be that happy, it makes the world better.

        I was so freakin’ pumped up when I saw that + Pep’s reaction, it was like “WE CAN FREAKING DO THIS NOW AAAAAA”.

        • soccermomof4
          March 9, 2011

          Really because when I saw Pep’s rxn I had two rxns:
          1. Oh look how happy he is!
          2. Don’t get too exited and hurt your back!

          • Eklavya
            March 9, 2011

            Hahaha Id forgotten he had a back problem.

  50. mardia
    March 9, 2011

    It’s a strange feeling when I agree with Marca and AS…

    From here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2011/mar/09/champions-league-press-reaction-barcelona-arsenal

    AS: when Messi scored for 1-0 that should have been the end of the discussion, since such a work of art deserved to secure qualification. But football is a cruel sport and it wasn’t enough that in the first leg the referee had denied Barça a penalty, had ruled out a good goal by Messi and that in the return, would ignore another penalty on Messi. In the face of such misfortune, the ball handed down the verdict. And the ball, as we know, belongs to Barça.

    Is this the same publication that photoshopped a picture to make Alves look offside? LOL.

    But my feelings on Arsenal can be summed up by our manager–

    Pep: “They didn’t string three passes together. If they believe they lost because of [Robin] Van Persie’s sending-off they won’t go very far and will always remain on the outside looking in.”

    For me, THIS is the attitude that needs to change within Arsenal. They have an incredibly talented side, and they could absolutely go far in any competition. But a lot of the time, you have to rise above questionable calls by the referee and just play the best game you can. Losing and then whining about bad calls, without acknowledging that you had a part in the result–not only does it make you look bad, I also believe it’s unproductive and doesn’t foster a winning attitude.

    Like, Kxevin, I wish we didn’t have to talk about the referee at all, I really don’t. But in my opinion, the referee didn’t take Arsenal out of the game–they weren’t IN it to begin with.

    As for Messi–I can’t even. That goal was ridiculous, flat out. Simply ridiculous. I’ve watched it repeatedly and I still can’t figure out how he pulled it off. And the Xavi goal was perfection. I flap my hands every time I look at it.

    But credit to Arsenal–they’ve made me more nervous than any other team that Barcelona’s played this year, up to and including EE, I have to say. So glad we don’t have to face them again this season.

  51. Jnice
    March 9, 2011

    Anyone want the pre/post match analysis on Sky featuring Graeme Souness, Jamie Redknapp, and Rafa Benitez?

    • gowtham
      March 9, 2011

      Hey I would love to have the post match:D

      • Jnice
        March 9, 2011

        K, I’m gonna post the whole match too because Sheena asked for links.

        Sky Sports Broadcast

        Pre Match:

        /http://hotfile.com/dl/109348569/16e2b34/Pre_Match_-_UCL_-_Barcelona_v._Arsenal_-_08-03-11.avi.html

        /http://bitshare.com/files/72e17pid/Pre-Match—UCL—Barcelona-v.-Arsenal—08-03-11.avi.html

        /http://www.filesonic.com/file/179197492/Pre_Match_-_UCL_-_Barcelona_v._Arsenal_-_08-03-11.avi

        First Half:

        /http://www.fileserve.com/file/VjfX7GU/First Half – UCL – Barcelona v. Arsenal – 08-03-11.avi

        /http://bitshare.com/files/kl79sdih/First-Half—UCL—Barcelona-v.-Arsenal—08-03-11.avi.html

        /http://www.filesonic.com/file/179572602/First_Half_-_UCL_-_Barcelona_v._Arsenal_-_08-03-11.avi

        Second Half:

        /http://www.fileserve.com/file/TWYAhNX/Second Half – UCL – Barcelona v. Arsenal – 08-03-11.avi

        /http://bitshare.com/files/k5ct54lb/Second-Half—UCL—Barcelona-v.-Arsenal—08-03-11.avi.html

        /http://www.filesonic.com/file/180062631/Second_Half_-_UCL_-_Barcelona_v._Arsenal_-_08-03-11.avi

        Post Match:

        /http://hotfile.com/dl/109370458/73c26b8/Post_Match_-_UCL_-_Barcelona_v._Arsenal_-_08-03-11.avi.html

        /http://www.fileserve.com/file/592BXPP/Post%20Match%20-%20UCL%20-%20Barcelona%20v.%20Arsenal%20-%2008-03-11.avi

        /http://bitshare.com/files/z8mdit0r/Post-Match—UCL—Barcelona-v.-Arsenal—08-03-11.avi.html

        /http://www.filesonic.com/file/180124642/Post_Match_-_UCL_-_Barcelona_v._Arsenal_-_08-03-11.avi

        Credit to Pakman at fbtz.com

        • Jnice
          March 9, 2011

          Those without premium links:

          You should be able to download every file with a different host in order to avoid waiting.

  52. vicsoc
    March 9, 2011

    Whether or not you think RVP deserved to be sent off, the fact is that he had put himself on the ref’s bad side several times throughout the match. It is an eternal rule in football that if you piss the ref off you are going to pay for it. Van Persie did just that.

    • Ian
      March 10, 2011

      This. What Gooners fail to see — or rather, what they choose NOT to see.

  53. March 9, 2011

    Part of the reaction by Wenger and the Arsenal player seems to me to be in reaction to the never ending litany of criticism they seem to incur from the British football world and media.

    It’s been going on for years and much of it seemed to have started with Arsenal using “foreign” players.

    Many there seem to see Wenger and Arsenal as arrogant – as seeing themselves as being superior to truly “English” teams and the English football culture as a whole.

    Whenever they lose it turns into a meta-conversation about “style” and culture and what “real football” means.

    It seems to have worn on Wenger and their team and made them thin skinned.

    It’s very unfortunate and ironic that so many of the negative statements directed at Barca from the Arsenal side and supporters mirror the exact criticisms that Arsenal receive in the UK.

    Just take the penalty issue Wenger keeps bringing up. When Arsenal is drawing more penalties than the opposition it’s not because the referee it’s just because Arsenal control possession so of course the team with the ball will draw more fouls.

    But last night when Barca played Arsenal off the pitch and didn’t even let them near the ball – the penalites Barca drew are just bias from the referees, favoritism from UEFA, just a result of the effete Barca players diving and play acting, etc.

    Same exact criticisms directed at Arsenal all of the time.

    It’s very unfortunate.

    • Lev
      March 9, 2011

      unfortunate is one way to put it. Hypocrite would be another 😉

  54. ak
    March 9, 2011

    kevin, there was no way that he didn’t hear the whistle
    i can’t believe you of all people are buying that bs
    yeah it was not a yellow, but that was a pretty lousy excuse
    rofl at that last image caption

    and i dunno why gunners over at arsenal offside are so pissed off at cules for whistling at their players. that’s what fans do, right?
    or maybe arsenal are just used to bieng the good guys

  55. blitzen
    March 9, 2011

    Well, at least one Arsenal player will be smiling today. Two months ago people were saying Almunia would be out the door by the end of January. Looks like he still has a job!

  56. Mike
    March 9, 2011

    Good write-up Kxevin, I agree with pretty much everything. I guess before I say anything else, I’ll let you know I’m an Arsenal fan. I haven’t read the comments because there are so many so forgive me if say something that has already been mentioned.

    First off, congratulations to Barcelona. They are the best team in the world, they were the best team in the world before this match, and they have been for quite some time. I love everything about the way your team plays, it is incredible. I won’t say I particularly love all of your players (ehem… Busquets, Alves), but as a whole, I truly respect what they are all about.

    For me, Barcelona certainly deserved to win this game. Just before the first was scored, I was telling my buddy how I couldn’t believe it was still 0-0. Then Fabregas, wanting to be fancy, decides to make a horrific mistake. I mean, that’s schoolboy stuff. Either way, I guess I couldn’t be too upset because we had avoided that clear penalty on Messi earlier in the half. Even with the goal and that insane pressure Barcelona was putting on us, I still had a glimmer of hope.

    The own goal really brought us back into the game and from there I could see us winning the tie, even though Barca had been and probably still would be the better team. Then that red card. Of course, I’m biased because I am an Arsenal fan, but I do think this tremendously altered the game. We would have been able to have an outlet to attack a slowly tiring Barcelona team which might have led to a goal or soaked up some of the pressure that eventually led to the two goals.

    Now, for those saying Arsenal went out there to simply defend–well, they did, but not completely. Fitness was key in the first leg. Barca got tired, we didn’t so much. We scored two and managed to hang on. In the second leg, I believe Arsene was looking to do the same, survive an onslaught and take only clear-cut counters in the first half, then see how much space there was in the second and adjust from there, slowly taking advantage of a tired Barcelona team. It wasn’t a bad plan, although I think putting a little more into the attack in the first might have changed the game a bit. It seems this is why Rosicky started and Arshavin was left on the bench.

    All in all, I can’t be angry that Barcelona advanced. As I said earlier, best team in the world. I am disappointed though that again I am left with “what ifs.” Still, I’m a bit satisfied knowing that my club is not as far from the top as many believed we were.

    Sorry for the wall of text, and.. Congrats!

    • soccermomof4
      March 9, 2011

      Thanks, welcome, and don’t worry about the wall of text; we’re used to it.

      Now go win the FA cup and the league because if Chelsea or Man U win it, I’ll never hear the end of it in my house..again!

      • Lev
        March 9, 2011

        thnx mike. pure class, just like the other gunners who have left comments on here the last couple of weeks.

    • blitzen
      March 9, 2011

      Thanks, Mike! And welcome.

      I really hope Arsenal win the EPL!

    • mardia
      March 9, 2011

      Mike, thanks for the classy comment. I think Arsenal’s game plan was two-fold–try to come back on the counterattack, and try to wear out Barcelona the way they had in the first leg. I think, though, that they had several problems, one being that Fabregas and van Persie (two very important players) were obviously struggling with fitness and the other being I don’t think they were prepared for the sheer pressure that Barcelona put on them.

      How smart that plan was is up for debate–I can’t believe that Arsenal didn’t realize that trying to beat Barcelona at the Camp Nou wouldn’t be a harder job, also (despite the fact that they had a solid defense for a lot of the game, particularly the first half) Arsenal’s entire play is based on attack, attack, attack. That’s what the players are best at. Asking all of them to primarily defend, and against Barcelona…I don’t know.

  57. Diego
    March 9, 2011

    I finally knew why Alves doesn’t shoot.

    His shot is so awesome that it injures goalkeepers and he probably feels really bad about it, that’s why he hesitates to shoot.

    • blitzen
      March 9, 2011

      Ha! That reminds me, on the FFT commentary yesterday they said that Jens Lehmann was talking about Szczesny on the German Sky feed. He said he was surprised that Szczesny came off for such an injury because for him the adrenalin would have been so strong he wouldn’t have felt any pain.

      Ah, Lehmann. Still crazy after all these years. 😛

      • Jackieboy
        March 9, 2011

        Doubt he would, since it wasn’t about pain. Szczesny said that after the shot he bent his finger and then just couldn’t get it back straight; he also couldn’t feel the finger.

      • Josep
        March 9, 2011

        Jay Cutler would’ve definitely played!

    • Roz
      March 9, 2011

      LOL. Yep thats Dani for ya. I do wonder why he doesent take more fks. Hes has some Golazos from set plays for the Brasil NT.

  58. March 9, 2011

    ecstatic victory, really exciting tie, and to be honest, there could be even more drama had bendtner seized the only chance they had at 87th minute. but i agree that the football gods simply hate to see negative football being played and still won.

    -adriano, busi-smasch combo, worked perfectly.
    -villa needs to sharpen his finishing. bad.
    -we created chances galore like always, and we didn’t finish them and almost caused drama.
    -afellay is such a great great winter signing.
    -wenger fails to admit mistakes, hard to see him take arsenal to success.

    visca barca y bfb!

  59. thierryennui
    March 9, 2011

    Hats off to you guys. The RvP decision was beyond ridiculous, and I do think there’s a decent chance we may have been able to hold onto a position that would have put us through had he not been sent off, but the bottom line is that you guys had two bad calls (one of which should have been a penalty/red card, the other was a good goal which was wrongfully disallowed) go against you in the first leg, and the Diaby tackle should have been a penalty yesterday. I’ve had my tin hat on all day trying to tell my fellow Gooners that a team that basically had 3 of its opponents goals taken off the board has no right to complain about the officiating, but to little avail — people just seem bound and determined to make the van Persie sending off the talking point.

    You guys were better than we were, and deserved to win. Simple as that. And I still have a lot of reservations about some aspects of Barcelona as an organization, and the behavior of your players over the summer, and I’m sure this isn’t an opinion shared by many of my fellow Arsenal fans, but here goes — I hope you guys go on and win it. (A) We could say we lost to the eventual champs; (B) Barcelona is so fun and entertaining to watch; (C) I just can’t bring myself to dislike Messi and Iniesta; and (D) I think you’re the best team, and you deserve it.

    So congrats on a brilliant performance and deserved win. As disappointed as I am, I tip my hat to you.

  60. March 9, 2011

    Wow, I think we’re seeing the benefit of registration with these Gooner comments. Contrast the bile we had here last summer with the classy responses today and yesterday — whoever had the registration idea, take a bow.

    • ooga aga
      March 9, 2011

      i didnt like the registration at first, but now i see it acts as a filter, only allowing in intelligent and classy gooners. the normal trolls probably arent smart enough to figure out how the registration works.

      forgive the barb. i hope arsenal wins the EPL, i couldnt stand to see ManUre or Chelski win again

  61. Miguel
    March 9, 2011

    schalke valencia or tottenham milan? my head will explode if i try & watch both.

      • Miguel
        March 9, 2011

        you’re right, i should check out the starting line-ups.

        Corluka, Gallas, Dawson, A-Ekotto
        Lennon, Sandro, Modric, Pienaar
        Van der Vaart
        Crouch

        Abbiati
        Abate, Silva, Nesta, Jankulovski
        Seedorf, Boateng, Flamini
        Robinho, Pato
        Ibrahimovic

        Neuer
        Uchida, Howedes, M’elder, Escudero
        Farfan, Kluge, Matip, Jurado
        Raul, Gavranovic

        Guaita
        Bruno, Navarro, Costa, Mathieu
        Ever, Topal
        Joaquin, Pablo Hernandez, Mata
        Aduriz
        -goal.com

        tottenham does have a full strenght line-up-aside from big baby bale…

        • blitzen
          March 9, 2011

          Yay! I’ll be checking the score now and then myself. Go valencia!

    • soccermomof4
      March 9, 2011

      have both DVRing- not home right now 🙁
      Go Valencia (want another La Liga team in)
      Go Milan(Gasp! I said that?)(EPL team out (besides, since I can like Arsenal again, I hafta root against Spurs)) as long as BANGS doesn’t get a goal 🙂

  62. blaunero
    March 9, 2011

    Great game. Great result. Now let’s move on. Harder and more difficult games will come. Like next weekend vs Sevilla, which is the most important game of the season.

    • Lev
      March 9, 2011

      the most important game? Because………..

      …….
      …….
      Huh, what, why?

    • blitzen
      March 9, 2011

      Because for Pep the next game is always the most important. 😀

    • Miguel
      March 9, 2011

      the run of play overwritten? they sure like hearing themselves talk. they’re funny.

    • vicsoc
      March 9, 2011

      Overwritten is an understatement.

      I get the feeling Brian Phillips’ spends his time imagining himself as the fourth Foer.

      • vicsoc
        March 9, 2011

        Ugh, I’ve been having some serious issues with apostrophes lately

  63. Vj
    March 9, 2011

    Can anyone please tell me what the wordpress bar is for? Can’t we hide it?

  64. Tom, Dick and Harry
    March 9, 2011

    @Kxevin

    “Our forwards need to go to finishing school.”

    As someone who had spent considerable time playing very close to the opponents’ goal, albeit not at as quite as high level, I can attest the reason for ‘poor’ finishing is exclusively:

    1. Lack of confidence (ex. Villa’s earlier in the season, a chronic issue with Bojan)
    2. Lack of concentration (decision making process) because one ‘lost his breathe’
    3. Of course, a goalkeeper has something to say about it too. Proper positioning and the scouting he had done during preparation.

    Either way, motions are going to be done too fast or too slow, with too much force or not enough of it. When this happens the result is often a miss.

    Considering the skill level and maturity, my money is on the fitness. The much maligned ‘February dip’ in form. The work rate some of these guys have is tremendous and it often takes toll in not so obvious ways.

    On a side note, I am pleased that Adriano had featured prominently last night. A development that should help his growth and yield long term benefits for the team.

  65. Miguel
    March 9, 2011

    i love champions league lunch breaks, woo!

  66. Jim
    March 9, 2011

    Great, great team display but so disappointed in the way Arsenal set up. Still, their problem not ours.

    For me, MOTM was Messi closely followed by Iniesta and Abidal. I’m seriously having to reassess my opinion of Abidal at CB – or maybe its just great having any pace at all in that position. Well impressed by the way he was shouting at the defence as well.

    Sorry, but not convinced by Adriano, Masch or Affellay. Adriano much more offensive than Maxwell which is great and full of energy but what did he actually achieve ? I remember a ridiculous cross which almost hit the far corner flag after a stepover, a stupid near post shot which hit the post but was never in with a chance of going in and a match threatening error under no pressure. We’re in danger of going off on one of our hyping up ventures. Happy to hear about other concrete ways he affected the match but don’t give me things like keeping the opposition occupied !

    Masch, I will always be in debt to him for that magnificent tackle that saved our bacon. No tackle, we are out without doubt. Still didn’t think he fitted very well into that passing midfield. Maybe just me. I do love his attitude. The quote on barcastuff about knowing his limitations and that he knows he isn’t a Xavi, Iniesta or Leo speaks volumes about why he is worth keeping.

    affellay is starting to worry me. I’m just not seeing it with him atm. Still, not a night for carping.

    I’m also going to say that I thought Alves’ overall energy and passion was great but he also needs to deliver a bit more from all the possession he has. He had more time than anyone else on the pitch last night. I don’t want to see him trying and failing to beat defenders or hitting the first man with crosses. No excuse for that. Still, I have to admit when he gets it right it’s good.

    finally, another word of praise for Iniesta. Don’t you just love it when you realise he has decided to run at the defence? You just know something good is gonna happen. And we will only truly recognise Xavi’s greatness when he is gone . . .

    • Josep
      March 9, 2011

      Not convinced by the player who is replacing Maxwell? Wow your pro-Maxwellness has gotten out of hand. Clearly just Adriano’s PRESENCE as an attacking force changed the match. If Maxwell is in there we don’t have as much freedom on the left. The fact that he went at attackers, drew arsenal back. Seriously you have some amazing pro-maxwell bias I’ve never seen for another player ever. Just let it go..

      and mascherano was massive! I even saw him in the box at one point. afellay bad?! He was through on goal after beating sagna for pace. tough shot. then he took himself to the endline a few times, but slowed it down. he didn’t need to rush things in the 90th and he didn’t. he was put on to help maintain pressure, possession, and for fresh legs.

      • Jim
        March 9, 2011

        Josep, I’m still waiting for you to give me an example of something in this game he did that impressed you and led to a chance or saved a situation defensively. I’m not saying he won’t be better than Maxwell – if we can get an offensive LB out of him then I’m all for it. Maxwell has had chances and isn’t doing it offensively. I’m just saying that apart from vague statements that don’t mean much what did he actually do ? I remember awful shots and a defensive howler. This is all in a game where we had as much offense and as little defence as any I can remember and I can’t think of one chance he created. I’m putting my views forward by mentioning things that actually happened in the match. Defend him by mentioning times when he set something up and we can discuss. Until such time as that happens it’s not me that isn’t supporting their view.

        I thought I made it clear – Masch was pretty good. My point was that I didn’t see him contributing much to the tight passing in the midfield. Not saying he didn’t have good interceptions etc.

        I’m also not writing Affellay off. I’m saying that so far I’ve seen an average get to the byeline type of attacker who moves awkwardly ( didn’t actually pull away from Sagna at all ) and who doesn’t strike me as a Barcelona type of player. Hey, I could be wrong – it’s early days but that’s what I’m seeing.

        • Josep
          March 9, 2011

          I’m not going to rewatch matches JUST FOR YOU to prove points to you, that apparently you’re the ONLY ONE who doesn;t see. you’re the only one with maxwell-tinted glasses. everyone else sees these things except you so why should I go out of my way to appease the one person who doesn’t see the same things everyone else does?

          Awful shots? clearly exagerration, I think he had one shot which was an absolute laugher. Adriano was a presence the whole match at LB, and like I said because he’s more attacking than Maxwell Arsenal couldn’t cheat over. His presence changed the match. He’s a left footed Alves lite, and Arsenal knew that. they wouldn’t have respected maxwell going forward, as they shouldn’t. and for afellay I guess, like with the other notes, you’re watching different matches from every single person on these boards.

          • Jim
            March 10, 2011

            Yeah, whatever, Josep. We’ll agree to differ – I can’t argue against comments like “his presence changed the match” because it is just an unsubstantiated opinion. I’ve given you actual examples – not least that he almost cost us our entire CL campaign through poor technique – you don’t want to provide a rebuttal – that’s fine. We’ll move on.

    • March 9, 2011

      Adriano: Steals, pressure, pace and physicality.
      Afellay: Helping with ball control, two excellent chances that applied pressure to Arsenal’s tired defense.
      Mascherano: Trick question, right?

      I don’t think it’s a “hyping up venture” to suggest that all three players showed very well in that match. I would say instead of looking at the negative things that Adriano did, look at the positive ones, as well. There were many of them.

      As for Mascherano, he will never fit into our slick, passing midfield. Ever. He isn’t that kind of player, but is instead more of a classic DM that just shuts everything down, pretty much from box to box. That was of immense value last night, given that we had to deputize Busquets at goal-scoring center back.

      Afellay is showing me plenty, more than Jeffren, more than Krkic (not that those contextual comparisons are saying much). He is calm on the ball, has very good control, has pace to beat defenders and moves well without the ball, which is crucial in fitting into our system. And I think Guardiola is starting to like him too, given how much he is playing him when given a choice.

      But we do all watch matches differently, so I can’t do or say anything about your views of Adriano, Afellay and Mascherano. They are your views, and as valid as anyone else’s.

      • Jim
        March 9, 2011

        We all try to call it as we see it but it’s hard to discuss when people just deal in vague strengths/perceived weaknesses rather than actual events from the match.

        And, hey, at least Abidal is starting to impress me . . 🙂

    • vicsoc
      March 9, 2011

      I questioned Adriano extensively throughout the first half of the season, and was convinced he didn’t have the quality to play for the team. However I can’t deny that he played a good match yesterday, better than any I can remember Maxwell putting in for us this season.

      Let’s say, hypothetically, that Abidal’s transition to a center back is going to be more or less permanent starting next season. Am I prepared to accept Adriano as our starting left back? No. But I’m not prepared to accept Maxwell in that position either. If we do buy a new starting left back I have to say Adriano has been making quite the case for keeping him over Maxwell in his last couple of games (not to mention that Adriano is younger, and more versatile).

      Mascherano is really growing into the team, but I agree that he still seems a little out of place at DM sometimes. As Euler has argued many times – I’d love to see Mascherano adapt to playing CB. He would fit in well (my only question would be his positional sense), and actually his skills make him almost a prototypical Barcelona center back. Add in the fact that if he could play there he would A. get more playing time and B. help the club cover some of it’s depth issues, and I think it’s a no-brainer.

      Honestly can’t really see where you’re coming from with Afellay. The last player to look as comfortable as he has in his first month or two in the squad was Alves – and he already knew Spanish and La Liga inside and out.

      • soccermomof4
        March 9, 2011

        I think, correct me if I’m wrong, that most of our worrying about Adriano came when he was playing RB. Comparing him to Alves! No wonder he didn’t cut it. I like him at LB! (not as much as Abi )

    • Miguel
      March 9, 2011

      yeah, i read that. my take it is that without song the pressing game arsenal played in the first leg wasn’t even an option. soaking up pressure, a game of two halves- that’s bs, wenger. he was clutching beads, rubin kazan’s manager style, for a not-negative result.

  67. Josep
    March 9, 2011

    Really about the referees it all balances out, people state 08 chelsea as us bribing Ovrebo. And the pique handball was bad, but a clear makeup call for the Abidal red card. Then there’s the first leg with bosingwa, and ballack. More with inter, etc.

    Anyways what a match. But like stated we need to be far more clinical, for every excuse the Gunner’s have theres an answer. As JNice stated no way RVP is on, in his fitness, in the 88th to finish that chance anyways. Besides if its 11v11 do you think Barca would be as complacent? I’m sure they’d really have tried to kill the game off.

    Not to mention Koscelny would be off for the PK, but was allowed to stay on obviously to makeup for RVP. Which they’d have a harder time replacing a CB than a striker.

    Anyways, tip my hat to the Gooners coming here gracious in defeat, it takes class. You are true class, I like the Gooners who realize, yeah it was harsh on RVP but you can’t complain about refereeing when its blown both ways.

    Anyways to funny things was when our full backs finally shot they both were terrible. Alves finally does and wow. But Adriano on his right foot was even worse, if anyone remembers his shot.. it was kinda funny.

    I’m sure Thiago being on the bench for the match was huge for him to just be there and feel the atmosphere. You think after the kid feels the fiery passion, the atmosphere, the intense feeling, and the great amazing match by Barca he’d leave? No way. He probably phoned his dad to tell him all about it.

    p.s. Btw, JNasty keep your shirt on. no one wants to see you truffle shuffle.

  68. Miguel
    March 9, 2011

    Tim Stannard – Schalke v Valencia: “Unai has gone for his normal post modern Western sheriff look with thee quarter-length jacket and wedding style neck tie thingy. Right…the game. Nothing so far.”

      • Miguel
        March 9, 2011

        it’s all about qique or as tim stannadrd calls him, “the mascara wearing one”

        goal valencia. what a beautiful assist.

        • blitzen
          March 9, 2011

          Quique is hot too. Just sayin’.

          GO VALENCIA!!!!!

  69. Miguel
    March 9, 2011

    been distracted, talking smack to neighbors in pool, but a lively game between the iberians & the germans so far.

    • vicsoc
      March 9, 2011

      WTF. Neighbors in a pool? It’s hailing here right now.

      • Miguel
        March 9, 2011

        81.0 °

        farfan equalizes. free kick. beautiful curling ball to the keeper’s left. i think it’s tied on aggregate now.

        • soccermomof4
          March 9, 2011

          YuK! White Crap! Glad we don’t have it here (still some of the larger piles melting though) Bring me spring!

  70. blitzen
    March 9, 2011

    Barcastuff:

    Valdes (11) completed yesterday more passes than Nasri (8), Van Persie (7) and Arshavin (5)

    HAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!!!! 😀

  71. Miguel
    March 9, 2011

    aargh. two crappy clearings from guaita lead to a schalke goal. boo.

  72. Miguel
    March 9, 2011

    almost a goal…& a handball! valencia’s looking to answer.

  73. Miguel
    March 9, 2011

    oh my. ivanovic almost busted a nolito trying to catch the keeper off his line. hit the post. 1 1/2 minutes to go.

  74. jnelson
    March 9, 2011

    Looks like Ibra will be coming back in the summer. Great…

    • Lev
      March 9, 2011

      That’s ok. We can sell him to Malaga.

    • soccermomof4
      March 9, 2011

      We don’t really have to take him back. Do we? Please say it can’t happen.

  75. ElJefe
    March 10, 2011

    Everything to be said has pretty much been said. It’s a shame that the referee ruined the match, marred the history books, and the chances of mature discussion by Arsenal fans & blogs. But the truth of the matter is, to keep a team with 20 Champions League goals, a team with a chance of topping the Premiership, against ours without its two elite World Cup winning center backs, to Zero shots…

    (allow time to ponder on ZERO shots)

    …simply sums it up. End of discussion.

    What’s striking to me is there is no discussion of what for me was the most astonishing parts of the match…what I consider to be one of the Top 5 big-game penalty kicks I have ever seen.

    http://www.101greatgoals.com/videodisplay/lionel-messi-2-arsenal-8709048/

    Find me a stronger, yet more casual, more confident penalty…mesmerizing. A man who appeared to slow down time as if it were a ‘Y’ button in his favorite video game. That was simply an EA FIFA moment.

    Now let’s talk real business..impact to our future line-up. I’ve been hoping all week that Adriano would get his much deserved start today, after his clutch performance against Valencia. But the absolute sheer pelotas of Pep to make that call, with all of the pressure on us, and no real need to score other than to play defensively, score a goal in the 2nd half, and move on with a 1-0 victory comfortably in front of a home crowd. For me this was Pep’s finest hour.

    I like Maxwell, but let’s face it, teams have been cheating when he’s on the field. With no real threat of a goal or a devasting Alves (today’s MVP) cross into the middle, they’ve been throwing bodies into the box and to stifle Alves’ runs. Now with a double-wing threat and samba finesse, we are a (shockingly) even more dangerous team and can free up the center midfield against the ‘stop Chavi, stop Barca’ defense. I’m not on the bandwagon yet, and we need to see consistency, but that is simply a game-changer if it continues.

    My big question for the group is has Mascherano played himself into a starting role on the squad? He arrived for me today…fearless However, me-thinks that with a healthy Pique & Puyol, our season’s MVP Abidal, Busi playing where he belongs, and a double Brazilian flank…it will be tough to fit him in except for specific tactical match-ups.

    Let’s all truly appreciate the victory tonight. This one was special.

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