Wednesday, May 06, 2009

MESSI and TEVEZ, two gladiators going to Rome

TEVEZ saw from the bench on Tuesday how his (soon-to-be-former-club?) Manchester United reached their second consecutive Champions League.

On Wednesday, Lionel MESSI had to endure almost 94 minutes of constant suffering before dishing out a cool assist for INIESTA to burn down Stamford Bridge and send FC Barcelona to the all important May 27 match at the Stadio Olimpico of Rome.

Two of the most iconic and popular Argentine players these days will meet up in what promises to be one of the most incredible Champions League finals in recent years.

TEVEZ is not enjoying a whole lot of starts for Manchester United this season. BERBATOV's arrival reduced TEVEZ's minutes to a minimum, but that probably wasn't the reason why Carlitos had to wait on the bench at the Emirates Stadium. Remember he played, and quite well, in the first leg against Arsenal at Old Trafford.

Sir Alex FERGUSON played TEVEZ from the start and the Apache successfully took the first penalty in the shoot-out against Chelsea.

My gut feeling is FERGUSON will play him again. FERGUSON knows better than anyone, that TEVEZ gives him an edge when it comes to play finals or important matches. That's a story to discuss in the next few days, not now.

Because what's fresh now is what happened in London on Wednesday night.

Chelsea made it clear from the game's first action, when one of their players (can't remember exactly who was that) kicked the ball high into the night and towards Víctor VALDES' box. They didn't care about being looked at as a negative team, playing negative football. They went for the result. They almost got away with it, when thanks to a lucky rebound in Yaya TOURE's leg, ESSIEN scored an incredible goal after the ball bounced off the bar.

From that moment on, I knew Barcelona were in trouble. No HENRY (injured). No PUYOL (suspended). No MARQUEZ (injured). GUARDIOLA had to move around some players and use TOURE as an improvised centre back (I wonder what grade his brother Kolo would give him for his performance!). INIESTA played almost as a left winger and youngster Sergio BUSQUETS had the difficult task of playing as a central midfielder.

Chelsea were superb at closing every avenue, every road and every little hole for Barcelona. I believe Chelsea started playing a little bit more after Eric ABIDAL saw the red card for a foul on ANELKA. I thought they were starting to deserve it a little bit more.

I remember at half-time thinking..."If I had the chance to write a script of how I want this 'movie' to be, I'd want Chelsea to start dominating clearly. To start wasting chances. I'd want Barcelona to be reduced to 10-men. I'd want them to stink the whole second half and then...when everything looked done and dusted, scored on injury time through a John TERRY's own goal".

Well...the only thing that didn't happen just as I imagined it was that TERRY didn't score past Petr CECH, but apart from that, everything seemed to be a part of that imaginary movie I pictured inside my head.

When Dani ALVES (who had a very bad game in my opinion) received the ball with injury-time ticking away, I even said to my self: "If Barcelona scores in this one, I'll shout as much as I shouted when Maxi RODRIGUEZ scored against Mexico on entra-time".

Then Bojan didn't quite reach the ball, ETO'O couldn't control it as he would have wanted to, ESSIEN failed to clear and the ball fell to MESSI. What did he do? As it's been a constant during the previous 180 minutes, he had three men on him. ESSIEN, ALEX and there was another, I think it was BOSINGWA. He controlled the ball, attracted all those men and calmly sent the ball towards INIESTA, who was waiting for an opportunity to shoot. And shoot he did! It was Barcelona's only shot on target in the evening and it meant the world to them.

It meant a lot to me too. Regardless of my feelings towards Barcelona and Chelsea, I was supporting Barcelona with all my energies because of the kind of football they represent. I was against Chelsea for having one of the richest squads in the world and refusing to play football.

Yes, the referee failed to see two clear penalties for Chelsea (and another one that was very dubious). Yes, Chelsea fans will start going on and on about that and the theory that Michel PLATINI doesn't want English teams to dominate like they are doing in recent years. They probably have a point in the first argument, not so much in the second (the way I see things).

I think the bottomline is they approached the game as if they were a team with no world-class players going against a superior side. I would accept that kind of approach from a lower league team or a relegation struggler when facing a big team. I even had no complaints when they went to the Camp Nou with a similar tactic. Tonight, they only showed some flashes of dominance when Barcelona were reduced to 10 men, but they failed to seal the result. One goal, against a team that scored more than 100 this season (only in La Liga), is not a safe margin and I think the team that wanted it the most, was the one who advanced.

I was rooting for a chance to see a Champions League final that would give us the chance to see MESSI and TEVEZ. To see another round in the fight between MESSI and Cristiano RONALDO to see who's the best in the world.

Now we will see it.


p2bn said...


Why messi was ineffective or unseen in the whole game. To be honest guys, this game reminded me so much of our team and how usually many other teams plays against us. And it was painful not to see Messi at his best. He needs to show in the final he is far better then CR no matter how many defenders are onto him. Otherwise, no matter the individual talent, he will be another forgotten second coming. I know it was real hard for him but that cant be the justification of a great player. He should have done better. One of the rare moment I felt fraustrated with El Flea and I bet you, the way he hugged Guradiola at the end, he knows he should have done better. So on the important match

Dani alaves was horrible today except the last cross. The whole team didnt had that flow in the last half of chelsea and chelsea were indeed good in defence.

Now about chelsea complaining. What goes around comes around. I remeber reading countless comments from chelsea fans saying to stop whinning about refree, well lets see wht they say now. Yes bad decisions indeed but I doubt if they would have said that if they won. The refreeing was bad indeed but for both sides and the same happened in Camp Nou as well. Either there should be some new rules or we all just should guttedly accept it how much we hate.

Chelsea never played football as the beautiful game but just to take increase their trophy count and it still proves playing beautiful and winning still is possible. Good news for us.


messidona19 said...

the best end to one of the most frustrating 93 minutes ever!! I was watching the game in the coffee shop and my brother who missed the match called me at the 92nd minute and i was telling him that we have lost and after that i told him wait a minute... messi has the ball and after that came gooooooooooooooool celebrations which lasted 3 long minutes! Thank God the last handball of Eto'o was not given for it would have been devastating! i hope Messi improves his performance though he didn't have enough space and doesn't seem to play his best when facing English teams. Hope it's different in the final though.

messidona19 said...

Another thing that is very crucial in the final is the battle for Ballon D'or between Messi , Cristiano and quiet possibly Iniesta! I just can't get over if Gabi Milito will ever return from "that injury!" , Barca do need him now more than ever! But i guess it's not meant to be as he took too much time to recover.

Sebastian said...

That's a tough one to address. The performance of the star players in crucial matches.

I've heard a million times before derby matches or World Cup finals or any other important tournaments' deciders that those games are not suitable to play beautifully. Those matches are there to be won and not to play beautiful football.

I've heard a lot of criticism on Cristiano RONALDO for his inability to show up at the most important stage and people going on and on about how he missed his penalty in the shootout of the last Champions League final (curiously enough, those critics forget it was because RONALDO's header that they managed to even get to that shootout).

RONALDO is showing a tremendous ability to find the back of the net in important matches (2 against Villa when Liverpool were about to catch Utd; 2 last night to see off Arsenal -plus one assist-; the one at Porto to advance to the semifinals; his performance against Tottenham when Utd were trailing 2-0...).

I don't think anybody has a point in saying he disappears when it matters the most.

MESSI? You all saw what he did at the Bernabeu to practically clinch the La Liga title for Barcelona. And tonight (as well as last week) he suffered big time against Chelsea.

The entire Barcelona team suffered. And which team wouldn't? It was almost impossible to play against a wall formed by those athletes. He did have a great game at Chelsea a few seasons back (with the DEL HORNO episode and MESSI hitting the post from outside the box).

I don't think there is a lot you can blame entirely on MESSI. It was the most difficult couple of matches he had to face because of the tactical nature of those games.

I was following MESSI very closely and EVERYTIME he was on the ball, he had 4 or 5 blue shirts around. Credit goes to Chelsea and the fault should lie on Barcelona and the inability to explode the spaces given to other players when half the Chelsea team were focusing on MESSI.

With all of that have to admit MESSI showed a flash of brilliance finding INIESTA at the most crucial time. His was a perfect assist at a perfect time.

I don't know how Man Utd are going to approach the game in Rome, but I doubt MESSI will have less space and opportunities than when he faced Chelsea (in both legs).

John said...

Well the good thing is that it won't be another all-English final. My gut feeling until today morning was like "Here we go again".

And then, that strikes from INIESTA and I went "YEEEEEAAAAAHHHHHHHH".

My congrats to Pep GUORDIOLA for bringing his team to the final. He really turned things around them tremendously. At least, we can now look forward to a final which WILL featured MESSI. Remember he missed the 2006 final because of injury.

John said...

Seba, something which I've discovered from

Forza_albicelestes said...

Barca for the CL.
I honestly hope Barca win.
This was by far the worst football game i saw in a long time.
I just felt like kicking chelsea.This brand of football is making football so much more unattractive..

But all the same the game actually helpd strngthen my games like this where everything has been shut out you need good shooters.Both the goals came from shots from outside the box.

Waiting to see a Messi vs Tevez vs Ronaldo vs Iniesta in the final..............

Anonymous said...

Well I was watching this with one my friends who is a big time Chelsea fan. He was talking major crap around the 87th min. Saying that EPL rules this and that. Soon as Iniesta shot that and went in I flew out my seat and started cheering and laughing. The look on his face was priceless. I told him do not run your mouth ever because karma comes back and bites you in the well you know what. As for Messi, I was a big upset but you know what he gave up that ball unselfishly and they got the goal. As for a big game player, Messi does just fine I am not worried about him at tall. His showed up for many many games, it is just the pesky English who drop 5 players around him. Oh well.


messidona19 said...

Good point forza albiceleste by proving your point that we need players who shoot from outside the box.
What makes this victory so sweet for me is because the 2nd leg stage all implied and was set for a Barca loss , since that Essien goal reminded me of Scholes' last year's only goal, and after being bombarded over and over again while surviving many penalty decisions, Drogba's dummy and one on one with Valdez , and the closed and impossible to penetrate defence of Chelsea , i just couldn't see a way past them but thankfully lady luck was with us and Messi

Anonymous said...

I was roughly disappointed with both of Messi's performances against Chelsea (especially yesterday), Sure, he was marked very tightly but yet you cant be so anonymous when you're surpposed to be the best player in the world, or at least one of the very best. Let's hope he will be able to step his game up against ManU but i wouldnt hold my breath on it.

Sebastian said...

Forza Albicelestes, again, you're giving strength to my point too! Yes, ESSIEN and INIESTA scored great goals from distance, but they are both midfield players.

We were talking about strikers and their long-range efforts and this tie between Barcelona and Chelsea didn't prove your point, in my opinion.

Regarding MESSI, I'll use the words I read from a friend on his Facebook page. He said: "MESSI may have been unable during more than 180 minutes to get away from Chelsea's superb schemes to cover him. But, when it mattered the most, when he was on the ball inside the box in the very last moment of the match, he showed an incredible ability to attract three men (LAMPARD, ESSIEN and ALEX) and instead of being selfish and tried a very difficult shot with his weak leg, he had the vision to assist INIESTA and he did exactly what was needed for his team to win. And that pass was perfectly timed and dead accurate. Not an inch to the right. Not an inch to the left. Perfect pass. The rest, of course, was all INIESTA's merit and he deserves all the credit for that".

If anything, I think the failure to break Chelsea down before that final miraculous kick, was of Barcelona as a team and not of MESSI as their star player.

Barcelona didn't find the way to get around Chelsea's catenaccio.

And by the way, I said in my post that I was going to shout if Barcelona scored in that last action yesterday as much as I shouted when Maxi scored against Mexico, but I didn't! I remember I got a terrible head-ache after Maxi scored that rocket of a goal for Argentina. I completely lost my voice that night.

Yesterday I did give it a strong shout, but I didn't even get close to that day in 2006.

Anonymous said...

Hey Seba, how much truth is behind a August 12th match up between Argentina and Russia in Moscow.


Anonymous said...

Also Spain vs Argentina on November 14th in Madrid. Also there is one more, Nigeria vs Argentina in Lagos a few days later. I think that one might get scratched.


Sebastian said...

Thank you for the heads-up, Jack! A new post is already up with more information on this future friendly matches.

Roy said...

I literally went nuts when Iniesta scored, NUTS. I've been a Barcelona fan for a long time and I'm extremely happy to see them in the final. No team would of been able to crack Chelsea at the Camp Nou. Messi was marked tightly by 3 players ALL GAME LONG. Perfect example is the goal itself. Messi got the ball, several Chelsea players went towards him which left Iniesta open.

Barcelona reminds me so much of Argentina, it's ridiculous. They play so beautiful and similar, it's really scary. At times I wish Xavi was born in Argentina:( Euro 2008 was clearly his coming out party to the World. One of the smartest players in the World, too.

Mohd said...

what makes me crazy in the past days is that some people start saying "messi a big game flop!!!!!!!!!!!" well how about vs manutd, vs chelsea (2 years ago at 19 of age), vs madrid, vs valencia, vs bayrn, etc....he does not have to dazzle in every match specially when he is marked by 4 players every time he touches the ball....amzing thing to say. if messi is something, then he is a player made for big games

Anonymous said...

They say he is a big game flop, I doubt that.It is mostly vs EPL teams. They say Cristiano shows up. But the difference is Cristiano sees EPL teams week in and week out. Sees each team at least 2X a year.


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