I am not a fully paid up member of the Barcelona fan club, any more than I regard Manchester City – as was lauded by my press colleagues a few months ago – as the best team on the planet. That laurel should be placed around the shoulders of Bayern Munich.
My wariness about Barcelona is their tactic when not in possession, which is essentially to disrupt play as in the case of Bousquets and, let’s not mince words, when you go past him you get tripped. Jesus Navas did precisely that and was kicked on the knee. Perhaps he went down over dramatically, but it was a clear foul. Referee Erikson did not give it and from that recovery of possession the ball went to Messi, who was initially fouled outside the box, only for the referee to give a penalty and red card deMichaelis. So this game was not won by Barcelona’s tica-taca fotball but by 2 questionable decisons. Up to this incident I thought City had matched Barcelona in chances though not in possession.
It’s a clear weakness that City do not possess a central defender to match the peerless Kompany. I don’t quite know what happened to the ex-Fiorentina defender Nastasic and Lescott, who played so well in the Cup victory over Chelsea, but I repeat – it was the referee, not de Michaelis, who cost City the game .
As for Barcelona, I detect an arrogance in the way they retain possession with endless passing. How threatening is this? Most teams are happy to, and capable of, defending as the ball is pinged laterally in front of them and, for all their possession, I do not recall any actual opportunities. I began to yearn for route one football. The wily Mourinho has shown a winning way – with Inter Milan – to combat their possession style by being more effective at recovery of possession and closing them out. Yes, they will put City out but I saw no actual Champion League winner last night.