4 May 2011

MANCHESTER UNITED 4 (Valencia 26, Gibson 31, Anderson 72, Anderson 76)
SCHALKE 1 (Jurado 35)

Gibson, the only Manchester United player I like, played a gloriously weighted 30 yard pass between two defenders to Valencia who killed the ball with a great first touch before nutmegging Neuer. Neuer, irrepressible in the first leg, let a Gibson drive slip through his fingers. Jurado hammered in a loose ball after United's makeshift defence failed to deal with a cross. Valencia beat Neuer for a second time only to see his shot cleared off the line by Howedes. Schalke were robbed of a penalty when Evans grabbed Raul with both arms in the box. It would have been a different game at 2-2 given the weak line-up fielded by Taggart. United recovered from that incident and continued to pummel the Schalke goal. Anderson scrambled in a third on the break and tapped in his second after a Berbatov centre.

Far, far too easy for United, as had been the first leg. If Magath was still coach I'm sure Schalke would have given United a much tougher game. With the exception of their home tie against Marseille, United have breezed through to the final. Let's hope they get absolutely annihilated by Barcelona, it's the lesser of two evils.

Post match on Italian TV Taggart was about to get interviewed. He saw the reporter, slapped him on the back of the head and said "An Arsenal Fan", pointing to an Asenal badge on the reporter's jacket then kissing it! That's the closest Arsenal will get to silverware this season.

Manchester United win 6-1 on aggregate.

Attendance : 74,687
Assists : Gibson, Valencia, n/a, n/a, Berbatov

3 May 2011

BARCELONA 1 (Pedro 54)
REAL MADRID 1 (Marcelo 64)

Massive cheat Busquets wasted a free header from a corner, failing to trouble Casillas. It took Barca a while to get going but towards the end of the half chances started coming thick and fast. Messi chest trapped an Alves cross on the edge of the D, skipped a typically reckless Xabi Alonso sliding tackle and went past Carvalho before pulling his shot wide of the right post. Iniesta tackled Diarra in midfield and sent Messi at Real Madrid's centre backs, he passed to the overlapping Villa and his first time shot was spectacularly saved, one handed, by Casillas. Pedro missed a much easier chance after excellent work by Villa then back healed a Villa centre to Messi, drawing another excellent save from the Real Madrid goalkeeper.

Ronaldo turned away from Alves in midfield and drove into the heart of the Real Madrid defence, he was tripped by Pique and his momentum carried him into the lowlife Mascherano, who rolled around clutching his ankle as Higuain whipped the ball past Valdes. Ridiculous decision. Barca scored shortly thereafter. Iniesta picked a pass between a huge gap left by Marcelo and the past it Carvalho to Pedro who slotted into the left corner. Xabi Alonso intercepted a hospital pass, his only positive contribution in the two ties, and gave the ball do Di Maria, he skipped a typically thuggish Mascherano sliding tackle (I'm surprised he didn't tackle it and go down) and hammered a shot against the left post, the ball came back to him and he centred for Marcelo to tap in. The match then petered out. Abidal made a miraculous return from cancer and Barca celebrated as if they had already won the cup which is always dangerous, unless they know something we don't.

The diving and playacting was almost kept to a minimum, almost as Mascherano did more than enough for box teams. As he's been largely relegated to the Barca bench this season you could be forgiven for forgetting what a dirty, cheating little bastard he is. If he plays another game it will be too soon.

Barcelona win 3-1 on aggregate.

Attendance : 95,701
Assists : Iniesta, Di Maria

27 April 2011

BARCELONA 2 (Messi 76, Messi 87)

Only two chances, one for either side, in a dreadful first half. Xavi should have done better after Messi played him in but he shot straight at Casillas. Ozil missed an absolute sitter on the rebound after Valdes fumbled a Ronaldo rocket. Barca reserve goalkeeper Pinto was sent off in a half time kerfuffle.

Pepe challenged fellow cheat Dani Alves for a 50-50 ball, both players had their fight foot raised, Alves of course spun away and pretended to be crippled, red card. Casillas parried a Villa shot straight at Pedro who headed wide with the goal at his mercy, as he fell Marcelo stamped on his ankle. I'm not sure if it was deliberate. Messi ran trough a typically reckless Xabi Alonso tackle but had a shot charged down, he was first the rebound and touched the ball to Xavi, he spread the ball out wide to Affelay on the right, Xabi Alonso took two quick glimpses past Messi, who was standing next to him, but somehow managed to forget to track him as he made a beeline for Affelay's centre at turned the ball at the near post. Xabi Alonso put his hands on his head. That's the reaction I have whenever seeing the useless, pointless twat. Messi played a ball into Busquets who trapped it and stood still, Messi took the ball off him and held off Diarra, who played the Peter Reid let him pass role, turned Ramos, knocked the ball past the statute that was Albiol, ran inside Marcelo then tapped into the bottom left corner. Fantastic goal, to paraphrase from Spartacus "A flower of beauty in a world of shit".

This game was a perfect summation of Spanish football, lots of diving and playacting with the occasional dirty foul. Dani Alves especially is a despicable player. Di Maria is an equal level of cheating bastard. Of course over in the UK Sky Sports and their La Liga salesman would have us believe La Liga and Barcelona especially are the bastions of virtue and fairplay.

Mourinho needs a miracle in the second leg and he won't get it. Real Madrid simply don't have a DM good enough to stop Barca's midfield rhythm. They've been playing together so long (because they can keep spending money they don't have to pay high wages and hold onto their best players) it gives them a massive advantage over other teams - trying to outplay them is a waste of time.

Attendance : 71,567
Red Card : Pinto 47 (Barcelona), Pepe 61 (Real Madrid)
Assists : Affelay, Busquets

26 April 2011

MANCHESTER UNITED 2 (Giggs 67, Rooney 69)

Neuer was called into action twice in the opening 5 minutes. Schalke couldn't stop the bleeding as the visitors laid siege to their goal. The pick Neuer's saves was a superb one handed stop from Giggs. He denied Giggs again at the end of the first half. Rangnick's half time team talk must have been shit because Neuer was forced into another brilliant one handed save from Valencia seconds into the restart. A moment of magic from the despicable Rooney broke the deadlock. He turned onto a pass, feigned to shoot as a defender dived in with a sliding tackle, skipped past his outstretched legs and hit a reverse pass between three players and Giggs shot first time under Neuer as he ran off his line. Two minutes later Hernandez flicked a Valencia pass through for Rooney who again beat Neuer with a first time shot. Nani, on as a substitute, flicked a ball between two defenders to Evra, he bounced the ball off a knee and dragged a shot just wide of a post. Would have been one hell of a goal.

Another dreadfully sad night for the sport which presents a conundrum for ABUs like myself. Should Barca reach the final I think there's a 90% chance they'll beat United as United are not a good pressing side and will eventually be worn down by chasing shadows. I only give Real Madrid 60%. Real Madrid's approach play under Mourinho is more deliberate and measured which will allow United's defence to hold their shape.

Attendance : 54,142
Assists : Rooney, Hernandez