Thursday, 20 August 2009

Barça 0 - 1 City

  • We should get the qualifications out of the way first: yes, it was a friendly, and yes, Barcelona were missing their two chambered heart of Xavi and Iniesta. But the Joan Gamper Trophy is quite a big deal in Barcelona; a Catalan Thomas Cook Trophy it is not. Barça still had Sergio Busquets, Carles Puyol, Eidur Gudjonsen and Yaya Touré starting, while Messi and Ibrahimovic played the second half. And anyone who watched the Wembley Cup knows that the Barça reserves can play a bit.
  • In fact, anyone who watched the first twenty minutes last night will have thought we were in for a serious beating: we barely touched the ball. Barça's control was total, and when we were in possession Tévez, isolated in a 4-5-1, could make little impact. Yaya was collosal in central midfield and it looked like we were in for a long evening. But for all their possession, Barça created very little. Given had little to do, and while Barça hit the woodwork twice they were both from long distance efforts. Our back four certainly did a good job.
  • Our one moment of real attacking quality came with the goal. On 27 minutes Kolo Touré won the ball in defence, and a few passes later Ireland put a delightful ball through to Martin Petrov, breaking from the left. He surged through and placed the ball past Pinto. It was our only real attack before Craig Bellamy ran through, in similar circumstances, in stoppage time - but shot wide.
  • Between the goals there was more of the same. Barça passed it aroud nicely but couldn't get through. Ibra and Messi came on at the interval (while we put on Ben Haim), but two big tackles on Messi from Stephen Ireland - unquestionably the best player on the pitch - shut him up. Ireland aside, there were heroic tackles from Onuoha, Dunne and even Ben Haim. Further up the pitch Vladimir Weiss impressed with his work rate and flashes of quality. We may not see him on Saturday, but he's surely booked his place at Selhurst Park.
  • Let's not lose sight of the true purpose of the game, either: the global promotion of the MCFC brand. It's unlikely that any other Premier League club would countenance that most unusual thing - a mid-season friendly, at this point. So to go to the Camp Nou, play for the Trofeu Joan Gamper and to take it back to City: it's not an insignificant moment in the ADUG/Garry Cook project. If it makes world class players even marginally more inclined to join MCFC in future, it's done its job.

No comments: