Barcelona 0 – 0 ManU: Stalemate in Spain EditionBy: Isaiah | April 23rd, 2008
So what’s to say about a game that ended 0-0 with few shots on goal? Well, first, thank you for missing that penalty Cronaldo. That’s the first thing. The second thing is to scratch my head and wonder how it is that Barcelona didn’t score. The third and final thought I have is a little more long-winded and deals with tactics. And isn’t really a singular thought at all, but a full-fledged review.
The starting lineup was an adventure, that’s for sure: Valdes, Zambrotta, Marquez, Milito, Abidal, Toure, Xavi, Deco, Iniesta, Messi, Eto’o. That sort of formation isn’t something you see out of Frank Rijkaard every day and were it not for Deco’s lack of match fitness, I would have been very much in favor of such a lineup. As it was, it worked out fairly well, except for the times when Deco was obviously a little out of sorts, couldn’t link up with his teammates, and lost the ball in important positions. That’s to be expected, though, and I don’t mean for that comment to come off as derogatory towards Deco at all. I understand full well that Rijkaard is playing with what he’s got, but it just smacks of bad timing to throw Deco out there for his first game since March 4.
The counter by Alex Ferguson was equally odd, though, at least to me: Van der Saar, Ferdinand, Brown, Evra, Scholes, Hargreaves, Park, Carrick Cronaldo, Rooney, Tevez. With that kind of lineup you’d expect an attacking side to come out on the field, but it was pretty much the opposite. After winning the initial exchanges, Cronaldo boot the ball wide of the post from the spot and it was all Barcelona from there. Evra played very well on the left wing, but was beaten a few times by Messi (which is like saying he played very well on the left wing because who is perfect?). If it weren’t for Evra’s timely tackles, it would have been a hundred to nothing by the end. Messi was on it tonight and wasn’t backing down.
And then Rijkaard subbed him and the game ended 0-0. I mean what the hell. Your back is against the wall in a championship race, you are one mistake from getting booted out of Europe, and you sub out Lionel Messi when he doesn’t want to be subbed out? Good call, Frankie boy. I mean, seriously? What are you thinking? That Krkic is going to be better than Messi? I’m sorry, but as much love as I have for the kid, he’s no Saint Messi and he’s not going to beat ManU. It’s not just that he took off Messi, it’s that in so doing, Rijkaard left a flat-footed, terrible Eto’o on the field. Samu, who I love and think of as the best striker in the world right now, stunk to high heaven. Every touch was wrong, every move was the opposite of what he should have done. When he finally got in on goal instead of putting a shot between the sticks, he boots it lamely wide.
So you sub him. That’s what subs are for: using. They’re not window dressing, you know. Put Henry on for Eto’o in the 60th if you have to wait that long and see what he can do in the middle of the field. Or you can pout about how 0-0 isn’t a good result in your post-match press conference. You could do that. I’m peeved at the decisions, to be honest. I yelled at the TV when Messi went out that if you want to throw away the Champions League, this is the way to do it. And here we are, 0-0. It’s not a bad result, not the result it could have been had C.Ronaldo not C.Rapped his pants, because we were never going to score. ManU played the right defense against us and knew that we were pushing Deco up against them without any sort of pace or precision. We almost got one in, but that’s the aforementioned moment Eto’o chose to C.Rap his particular pair of shorts. So we just need to score in Old Trafford.
Scoring is when the ball goes into the opponent’s net, in case you’ve forgotten. Winning is not necessary in Old Trafford, but in order to advance, we must figure out how to put the ball in zee nets. Perhaps we’ll rediscover our touch against Deportivo, which, if we draw or lose, means we’re all but eliminated from the La Liga title race. Sooooo, let’s win that one, eh boys?
Valdes: 5. He didn’t do anything.
Zambrotta: 6. He did well defensively and was definitely doing his offensive duty, it’s just that he had to keep looking over his shoulder to make sure Cronaldo wasn’t going to get too much freedom on the counter.
Marquez: 7. Would have been an 8 but for that yellow card. He kept the ManU offensive in check along with his fellow central defenders.
Milito: 6. Can’t argue with the Butcher of Bernal not getting a yellow, but that handball costs him two points, fo sheezy.
Abidal: 7. Did his job on Rooney and did it well. Only one barftastic moment in which he totally fouled Cronaldo in the box, but got away with it so he loses nothing. Phew.
Toure: 8. Did what a midfield assassin does: assassinated. That’s a fun word to say: assassin. Kuwabatake Sanjuro, Codename: Toure.
Xavi: 7. He cleaned up, picked off passes, provided good movement through the center of the field.
Iniesta: 6. SPF45 gets a lower score because he didn’t create enough and threw himself at the ground too much.
Deco: 5. What can you expect from a guy who is coming off a month and a half of injury time?
Messi: 8. Had the juices flowing, just no goals to show for it. Of course, when you’re constantly taking on 3 defenders, you look a little lamer than when you can consistently beat one guy.
Eto’o: 2. Blah. Get outta here with that junk. If I wanted Guddie, I’d ask for Guddie.