28 April 2010

BARCELONA 1 (Pique 84)

After 110 minutes of football Dani Alves finally managed to put in a good cross but Pedro flashed a volley wide of the right post. That effort arrived after 24 minutes of tedious football. Barcelona were struggling to create chances and Inter were struggling to even get the ball, let alone do anything with it. An innocuous incident changed the course of the game. In shepherding a ball out of play from Biscuits Motta raised his hand and caught the midfielder on his chin, Biscuits dived to the floor, clutching his face then moved away his right hand to see what action the referee was taking. The referee, Belgium's De Bleeckere, showed Motta a red card. As he walked off Motta grabbed Biscuits by the back of his neck, he should have punched him in the face. Messi dribbled his way past a couple of players, to the edge of the D and curled a right foot shot towards the left post only to be denied by a brilliant Julio Cesar fingertip save.

The red card waiting to happen, Muntari replaced Sneijder on 66 minutes. Overrated midget Bojan, on for Ibrahimovic, missed an absolute sitter, heading a Messi cross wide of a post on the one occasion Samuel made a mistake. Barca did however finally break through two minutes later. Messi and Xavi worked the ball across the box, Xavi found his Spain team-mate and now makeshift forward Pique with a pass between two defenders, Pique spun around as Cordoba dived in with a dangerous sliding tackle and slammed the ball low inside the left post. Another Barcelona cheat, Dani Alves, dived in search of a penalty. This time he wasn't booked. In injury time for a split second it appeared as if Barca had cheated their way to another final - Samuel slammed a Pique through ball against Toure's left hand, Toure poked the ball through to Bojan but the ref had already blown for handball as Bojan hit the roof of the net. The only big decision the ref made in Inter's favour.

A terrible game. For all their great football Barcelona really are a shameless bunch of cheats but then it's something I've come to expect from La Liga teams. Barca's lack of class continued at the final whistle. The Barca anthem blared over the loudspeakers, Valdes tried to prevent Mourinho from celebrating before one of the linesmen ushered him away then Barca turned the sprinklers on the Inter contingent as they celebrated near their supporters. Unicef would not approve.

It was a case of Tikki-takki is crap, Tikki-takki is great then Tikki-takki is crap again. I'll hold fire on my generic Spanish midgets comment until after the World Cup.

Inter will go in as heavy favourites in the final but without Motta I give Bayern the edge in midfield and Inter a massive, massive edge in defence. Webb to ref for the final?

Inter win 3-2 on aggregate.

Attendance : 98,000
Red Card : Motta 28 (Inter)
Assist : Xavi

27 April 2010

BAYERN MUNICH 3 (Olic 26, Olic 67, Olic 78)

In the second minute Van Buyten whacked a longball out of defence, Cris beat Olic to the ball but fell under pressure from the striker, Olic ran forward then pulled back a centre for the onrushing Muller who shot wide from six yards. Terrible miss. Thomas 'not as good as Gerd' Muller missed from a even closer in when he flashed a Robben throw-in across the face of goal. Lyon got caught cold from another throw-in and this time it proved very costly. Alton Towers throw the ball at Muller, he played a one-two with Robben, burst into the box then pulled the ball back to Olic as he was tackled, Olic pushed away Cissokho, turned and blasted a right foot shot over Lloris. Bastos missed a glorious chance to draw Lyon level, Makoun hung up a first time cross, the Brazilian jumped in the air but volleyed wide of the right post.

Cris was booked for going in two footed on Olic, he clapped the ref for showing him a yellow card and seconds later the ref showed him another. Needless to say this time he didn't clap. Shit refereeing. The fraud Govou stole a ball and unleashed a blistering long range effort, Butt dived to his right and made a highlight reel save. Altintop played an absolutely brilliant reverse pass inside two defenders, Olic ran across his marker, checked his run ever so slightly and as the ball spun almost to a halt then thrashed a left foot shot past Lloris. Brilliant goal. Lloris beat away another Robben effort and five minutes later LVG substituted him for Klose. Olic completed his hat-trick with a superbly placed header, the excellent Lahm supplied the cross. Altintop should have capped off a brilliant performance with a goal but having cut in from the left and skipped past Boumsong he curled a shot wide of the top corner.

Bayern were absolutely superb though Lyon never and I mean never threatened to get back in the tie. Bayern have a very powerful midfield - Altintop, Van Bommel and Schweinsteiger are all six footers, strong and can tackle. The Germans will go in as underdogs in the final but this midfield gives them a chance.

Bayern Munich win 4-0 on aggregate.

Attendance : 40,000
Red Card : Cris 59 (Lyon)
Assists : Muller, Altintop, Lahm

21 April 2010

BAYERN MUNICH 1 (Muller 69)

Schweinsteiger wasted the best chance of the first half, heading wide after Lloris flapped at a corner. Ribery cut in from the left, danced past Cris, evaded two defenders but having done the hard work shot wide of the left post. With a fabulous first touch Robben trapped a longball on his thigh then played in Olic but the Yugoslavian Dirk Kuyt shanked his effort embarrassingly wide. Ribery was sent off for an appalling stamp on Lisandro. Ribery intercepted a loose ball, broke a tackle as he played a one-two with Robben, Lisandro ran forward to make a challenge and the Frenchman stamped down on his right ankle. 10 red cards and the very definition of a leg or in this case ankle breaking foul. Kallstrom stung Butt's palms with a monstrous long range effort to bring a tedious first half to a close.

Toulalan earned two yellows in quick succession. His first for a cynical trip on Robben and the second for what on first viewing appeared to be a dangerous studs up foul on Schweinsteiger though replays showed there was nothing in the challenge and it was probably the German's theatrics - a pirouette followed by a couple of rolls, that convinced Rosetti to dish out another card. In between Muller wasted an excellent run from Lahm, falling over the ball from 10 yards. The not so Super Mario Gomez feebly headed a perfect Robben cross into Lloris' arms. This years losing finalists broke the deadlock a minute or so later. Bayern were passing the ball square across midfield when Robben collected a pass from Tymoschuk, Delgado ran at him and he took the ball onto his left foot and accelerated away before uncorking his left boot, the ball spun off Gonalons' back and Muller instinctively flicked his head at it, wrong footing Lloris in the process.

Bayern have had terrible luck with strikers in recent years i.e. Podolski, Tony and now Gomez but even without Ribery with Robben in such inspired form and their penchant for scoring away from home it's hard to see Lyon turning this around.

Attendance : 66,000
Red Cards : Ribery 37 (Bayern Munich), Toulalan 54 (Lyon)
Assist : n/a

20 April 2010

INTER 3 (Sneijder 30, Maicon 48, Milito 61)
BARCELONA 1 (Pedro 19)

Valdes fumbled an Eto'o shot and Milito missed an empty net on the rebound. About a minute later Barca took the lead. Former Inter defender Maxwell stole a yard on Cambiasso and ran up the left flank before pulling back a centre which Pedro slammed into the bottom left corner. Milito missed another sitter, failing to hit the target after Pandev touched on a deflected pass. Sneijder played a glorious crossfield pass out wide to Eto'o, he swapped passes with Maicon before playing a centre to Milito, who had his back to play, three defenders swarmed on Milito, he got a call from Sneijder, who had made up 40 yards, took two steps forward and rolled a pass out wide to the Dutchman and he blasted the Nerazzurri level. Fantastic goal.

While Messi was moaning over the non award of a free kick Sneijder turned onto a pass out of defence, beat three players and found Milito, via a deflection, Milito ran into the box and centred to Maicon, Keita made a brilliant challenge but the bounce was kind to the Brazilian who pounced on the rebound and shot past Valdes. Julio Cesar made a brilliant point blank save from Biscuits on a corner and Inter eventually scrambled clear. Barca reject Motta tackled Biscuits as he tried to launch a counter attack, Motta passed to Eto'o who played a inch perfect first time cross between two defenders to Sneijder, he headed the ball into the ground and Milito thumped in a header at the back post. Alvez was booked for diving in the box, the PORTUGUESE referee wise to his tricks. An excellent first time pass should have ended with Sneijder scoring Inter's fourth but for once his usually immaculate first touch let him down. Lucio made a desperate block on Pedro as Inter once again failed to deal with a corner.

Sneijder, not Xavi, is THE best midfielder in the World. Zanetti did a fantastic job on Messi and Eto'o gave a brilliant, selfless performance. Barca face a taxing return journey to Spain, Xerez at the weekend, which should be shooting practice then Inter next week without Puyol. As long as Sneijder is fit Barca's insane high line will present Inter with chances to score. It's looking really, really good for Mourinho although a poor referee could ruin everything.

Attendance : 83,000
Assists : Maxwell, Milito, n/a, Sneijder