Barca 1 – 0 Inter: Revenge of the Sith

Those who believe ends justify means will hail the Sith Lord for his victory. Others who believe in doing the right thing over and above everything else will cringe at the sight of the Dark One standing at the Camp Nou arms raised, index fingers pointing to the sky.

One of the major reasons I’m a staunch Arsene supporter is that Le Boss does the right thing. The man’s adherence to principles and the right ones at that makes him stand out amongst all the top managers in this world.

I can understand some Arsenal fans like to take a blinkered view of success measured only in terms of silverware. I can also understand why people appreciate the manager who must not be named. I just don’t agree with it.

Inter achieved their objective and it doesn’t matter that they had a disgraceful 14% possession or just one shot on goal, the scuffed Chivu free kick that was way off target.

This image for shots on goal would make you wonder if this was a training exercise of attack vs defence. The majority in the world will only remember who qualified and in the eyes of some that’s enough justification.

The reason I hate top teams playing with 10-11 defenders is that it sets a very bad example. The nature of the game is such that defending is much easier than attacking. Consequently, mastering defence is much easier than creating a strong attack.

When a team like Inter goes through against the best attacking team, it tells all the small teams they must start putting men behind the ball if they want to get results. Is it a surprise then that so many teams in England park the bus and make it difficult for the top teams? If relegation battlers do that I can understand. But when you see a team that’s been winning the Italian league do that against the team winning the La Liga, you really worry for the future of football.

If Bojan had put his header one yard to the left all negative tactics, hard work and discipline would have been meaningless. I doubt anyone but Barca fans will remember this a few weeks down the line, leave alone a few years. But it does bring some perspective to the result and highlights a very fine line between winning and losing.

I’m not taking anything away from Inter. They did enough over two legs and Barca really didn’t have enough in attack. The Italians forced them wide with an impenetrable core and had a six man line ready to deal with any cross. It was simple, really, and the keyword for success was discipline. You could say the keywords for failure were unimaginative and insipid.

The Nerazzuri always had three or four players on Messi when the diminutive wiz got the ball and that rendered him ineffective. Busquets, Kieta, Toure, Maxwell, Pedro, Bojan and Alves were just not good enough in the final third. Xavi didn’t have enough support and his limitations are exposed when the opposition is so well organized. Ibrahimovic was so bad Barca must be ruing the day they swapped him for the extremely professional and effective Eto’o. After this game that looks like the transfer blooper of the season.

I don’t think there is much else Barcelona could have done. Perhaps, they could have played Pique as a centre forward right after the sending off. In hindsight, that seems a good solution as the defender was their best player. Messi could have dropped deep more often and made some runs on the flanks. Beyond that the Barca squad were quite limited in what they could offer.

If anything this semi-final just shows how difficult it is for teams like Arsenal and Barcelona when a top quality defensive unit sets its stall out. In the first leg Barca lost 3-1 in a manner reminiscent of our recent defeats at the hands of United and Chelsea. In the second leg the Catalans struggled to create chances of note, once again reminding us of our struggles against the strong defensive units fighting for the Premier League crown.

Should Arsenal and Barcelona change their approach or is there another way around this? Both can certainly improve their defence. I am all in favour of playing the beautiful game but that doesn’t mean you have to be stupid and naive at the back. The goals we concede against the top sides and those that Barca conceded in the first leg were down to fundamentally poor defending. You have to learn the tricks of the Dark Arts even if you wish to conquer them with magic and beauty. Here’s hoping that next year we see the Return of the Jedi!

P.S – Will this make Barca even more desperate for Cesc!?

49 Responses to Barca 1 – 0 Inter: Revenge of the Sith

  1. name says:

    Your comparison of Barca and Arsenal finding it hard to breakdown teams who pack their defence is very misguided. To mention Barca and Arsenal in the same breath is beyond delusional.

  2. Mark says:

    when did defending become dark arts? Football is about both attacking and defending. In Le proffesor’s words “I enjoy a clean tackle as much as I enjoy a good pass”

    • Nischit says:

      haven’t you heard too much of any one thing isn’t good for you?

    • desigunner says:

      lol, do you understand the difference between a clean tackle and playing a 6-3-0/6-4-0 for 90 mins?

      A Champions League semi-final is played in only one third of the football pitch and you actually come and make such statements? I don’t really know what to say to that.

  3. but do you enjoy a formation of 6-3-0

    with the 3 playing as DM’s 😆

  4. Nischit says:

    I can’t believe I’m defending the devil, but Inter did their job at the san siro. They played the perfect game over the 2 legs to beat barca. For all of barcelona’s possesion, it ended up a bit like arsenal’s matches against manutd n chelsea… Going nowhere.
    Makes you wonder if there’s a balance somewhere between attack and defence. The invincibles were more balanced than the current arsenal team. Too bad they didn’t win the european cup they deserved.

    • desigunner says:

      Yes that’s one of the things I was trying to get at. The other being disappointment with the way Inter played even though technically they had a right to do it.

  5. arsenal says:

    the thing is, you must play to your strengths as a team

    inter simply wont be able to pass barca off the pitch, and obviously with mourinho in charge and the players they have, it would make sense for them to play the way they did; impeccable tactics and ridiculous discipline.

    their back four and cambiasso and motta in front of them is prob the most solid defensive unit in europe. they have been immense throughout the CL this season

    although inter’s tactics are boring and ruin the game, they still require skill, discipline and effort, so you must give them credit where it is due, even if they do play anti football. so all you can say is fair play to them

    barca like to pass it around like arsenal, so they must find a way around inter, there is no rule which says you cant simply just defend, barca ran out of ideas

    • desigunner says:

      I did give them credit for the discipline and hard work and I could accept it if they played better against other teams. Unfortunately, they did the same against Chelsea and I’m convinced they will do the same against Bayern. It’s a real shame that it’s worked out for them.

  6. 7masters says:

    What a naive man you are desi, Barcelona are a team full of cheaters. Italians defended in very intelligent way and it was Barca fault they could not use the width why? Cause most of their actions happen in middle and guess Mourinho closed it tight shut.

    Aslo do you hear what Barcelona did to Inter team making noises both inside the hotel and Outside, Playing fireworks etc…Even local police played a role going to Eto room to arrest him on presumption of not paying taxi fees? Odd

    Not to forget Cheat Sergio Basquet rolling on floor to get thiago sent off. Arsenal suffered the same fate and they never did anything about it. As long as Wenger is around forget about winning anything, Arsenal have no end product to finish game off then relax to enjoy the game so comparing them to Barca is wrong.

    • Nudge says:

      Granted Busquets did a disgraceful dive to get Motta sent off but are you telling me a player from Inter wouldn’t have done the same thing?

      When a supposed “big team” in Europe and the Seria A champs for the last 5 seasons or whatever it is has to resort to pathetic time wasting all game (like Bolton under fat sam always used to do)and play a whole game with 14% possesion and one useless shot on goal, it is really sad for the world of football.

      It’s making me sick how so many pundits and even punters with their comments are applauding the great defensive display of Inter and the great tactics of the dark lord. This type of play shouldn’t be applauded it should be heavily critisized.

      It was the sem-final of the UCL with the whole world watching and Inter ruined it as any kind of decent spectacle. The sending off didn’t change it at all either as Inter never looked interested in attacking from the start.

      If every team plays like this at the world cup then its going to be one boring tournament

      • arvind says:

        I agree with watching teams play the beautiful game and also play with more an attacking mentality. However, there is no rule written about playing this way. With that said, teams take the approach that best suits them and their style along with their talent level. Inter have some good attacking talent.. they are not know as a defensive team but more or less play in a defensive league…. Barca had to adopt a new style to their game and much like arsenal, did not adjust and lost the game.that is it… it is true they attack a lot down the middle and JM took that away.. Barca have good wing play but it is harder than using the whole pitch.

    • desigunner says:

      I’m not trying to say Barcelona are a better club than Inter or that they are morally better or anything like that.

      I love football and purely from that point of view Inter were a disgrace. I agree they have a right to do that but if all teams go that way, it will kill football. Do you remember how boring Chelsea V Liverpool used to be when the Dark Lord went up against Benitez, who is another of the same ilk? I worry for football and all football lovers. I assume most Arsenal fans fall in that category. It’s not really about Barcelona.

  7. moha says:

    your article is utterly senseless. I mean since when did defending with tactical discipline and commitment became the dark side of football? with all the possession they’ve had, Barca showed an ugly side to their game-i.e. overdramatic cheaters. Give credit where is due, Murinho is a tactical genius who did a good job shutting out barca. I going to have to agree with 7masters that as long wenger is there we will not win any silverware. The man is tactically inept and his obsession with young players has downgrade Arsenal to a laughable team.

    • desigunner says:

      Lol, do you remember how maicon was rolling around pretending to be hurt and then came inside the pitch and started wasting time within the first few minutes? Did Busquets do any worse than that? It’s gamesmanship and everyone does it. I don’t like it and something should be done about it but it’s a different issue.

      The way Inter played was really pathetic and I can see no other defence for it other than the ends justify the means one.

      Your comment on Arsene and Arsenal is highly immature and dumb. I guess laughable is a good word for it.

  8. arvind says:

    comparing barca and arsenal is nice but really there is no comparison. Barca are on a different level altogether. I even wonder why ppl refer to arsenal as barca light. Not a chance and here is the main reason why. Barca are like moths to a light when the lose the ball. They are aggressive in winning back the ball all the time hence their massive possession percents. Inter did what they had to do with their skills set. Hats off to them for doing what no other team has done in a long time. Defending a lead with this much at stake is the best they had to do. No team can out pass or out possess barca. It is impossible but JM showed that a strong defence can also win games.

    • desigunner says:

      Don’t forget Inter did the same against Chelsea. And I’m sure they will do the same against Bayern. That’s the only way the Dark Lord can play in big games. If it had been only about Barca I would have said hats off.

      I’m not comparing Barca and Arsenal. It’s a general problem that the two teams face at different levels. We could have compared them if Barca had been in the English league, had some of their legs broken, and played the likes of Chelsea and United on a regular basis. Right now the comparison would not be completely fair.

  9. arvind says:

    TO answer your PS, I think that Cesc will watch AW closely and see what he is going to do to improve the team. He knows barca will take him whenever he wants… he should watch AW and even tell him that as a captain, he needs this this and this…. Cesc is a quiet leader but in this case, he needs to speak up and let the manager know what the team really needs. I dare say it but other captains would do the same, regardless of what the manager decides… that is part of being a leader… not holding back.

    • desigunner says:

      I’m sure Cesc tells the manager what he thinks. They cannot have a good relationship if one has to hold back his thoughts. But at no point can players dictate how the team should be run.

      Not all great players become great managers, in fact very few do. That’s because the skills needed for a being a great manager and a great player are very different. It’s one of the reason the players’ opinion can never be very important.

  10. GUNNERFAN says:

    Generalizing that defending is easier than attacking is stupid. If it was so easy, Arsenal could and should have done better. Inter played the perfect game.

    Wenger should watch this video and learn something from the Special One. Wenger is a good coach but a pathetic tactician. Mourinho towers above him and everyone else in that aspect of the game. He showed today that Pep is a good coach of a great group of men, but not as tactically nuanced as he is.

    I would rather have Arsenal show the steele that Inter showed than be tippy-tappy as we are. Also, Inter had to play for an hour with 10 men. So bear that in mind before throwing all sorts of stats.

    • desigunner says:

      If you don’t realize defending is easier than attacking then I don’t know why you watch football or what you see.

      Ask yourself why strikers and creative players command such a high price tag whereas good defenders come relatively cheap. Then try and observe how many attacks a team tries and what percentage of that eventually end up in a goal. Even for a top team that would be less than 5-6% success rate. In effect, the defending team succeeds in thwarting 94-95% of the attacks.

      I can really get into details here but explaining something so elementary is a colossal waste of time.

  11. Ahmad says:

    LOL…luv da last lyn of da bog! =D;)

  12. arvind says:

    The more I think about it and not to take away from AW and what he has done at arsenal but it seems that he may be a better youth team coach. He is a teacher at heart and is more equipped to teach and deal with the younger guys versus older players. I can see him working with a teams youth program somewhere after arsenal. I agree with Gunnersfan that Inter showed a lot of heart and steel playing a man down in their so called defensive style. As much as i do not like JM, he is a winner whereever he goes. He has the track record and to be honest I miss his stupid off beat comments when he was in the EPL…. annoying but funny sometimes.

  13. eplinform says:

    You can’t blame a team for putting people behind the ball when their purpose is to just defend a 2 goal lead. If to goal of the game was to play a game that is pleasant to watch then you can complain, but that’s not the case. If anyone should be blamed it should be Barca, they were trying to do things that were clearly not working for them. Crossing the ball into a heavily packed box where the majority of the players are standing at 6’0, that right there is just poor decision making. Back to the subject at hand, blaming Inter for having 6 people in defense, you can’t seriously expect them to open themselves up even a little bit, that right there is just absurd.

    • desigunner says:

      If it had been a one off I’d have accepted your argument about tactics. As I’ve said in a comment above, if you remember Chelsea (Dark Lord) V Liverpool (Benitez) then you’d know what danger there is to football. These are two champions league winning managers and their teams hardly ever play good football against a big team. It’s a real shame.

  14. dev says:

    Wenger should watch the game and learn a thing or two about tactics. it would be naive to say football is just about pretty football and sideway passes. its way beyond that. we should appreciate a team that knows how to defend well as much as we appreciate a team that plays good attacking football

  15. Akash says:

    Agree with Dev…..Trophies are the only thing that a football player & a club wants….we fans don’t want beautiful football , we want trophies coming season after season….

  16. Purearsenal says:

    what the hell are you talking about, how can you compare arsenal with barca.
    we play football and its real football, barca pays refs to win games, do you not see or understand that.
    please all of you look at the first leg we played barca, they were attacking like crazy in the first half an hour, and i literally mean crazy, there was no proper attacking it was just shoot randomly.
    we had a few attacks only but they were all created from scratch and they were vital. in the second leg the ref was paid so well that yellow cards were flying on arsenal players from their first touch.
    what inter did was not genius, it was simple mathematics, all they needed was a clean sheet, and they almost got it.
    all we needed was to defend after our first goal. it only matters who wins and not how these days.

  17. Nudge says:


    Your all rubbish. So lets applaud Inter and Jose for time-wasting all game hey. Doesn’t anyone here see the big picture at all?

    This sets a terrible example of the win at all costs mentality including the cost of the whole game itself. It was a boring game to watch and the world deserves better in a UCL champions league semi-final.

    At least Desi see’s the big picture

  18. karan says:

    yesterdays match was a perfect battle between two opposite thinking coaches . I think the better one won .I dont know why mourinho is singled out. NO one was comlaining when man u went to barca 2 yrs ago and “parked the bus”.everyone was all like that was a brilliant tactic .remember any1???

  19. karan says:

    lets not forget that the barcelona fans tried to get eto’o arrested yesterday . Dark arts off the field????

    • desigunner says:

      I didn’t read that news but if it’s true than it’s certainly dark arts off the field. shameful, if true.

  20. Danish gooner says:

    The red card had the effect that it killed off any chance of seing Inter attacking or even doing counter attacs. Could even have made things worse for Barca.

    The comparison to Arsenal sometimes (often) having trouble breaking down defensive units is very relevant.

    On such occasions, why don’t Arsenal and why didn’t Guardiola yesterday leave some possession to the opponent ? If they do, the space will open up and Arsenal as well as Barca are lethal on the counter.

    I see it as a tactical fault by Arsenal and Barcelona to maintain too much possession when they play against defensive teams.

    • desigunner says:

      Yes Barcelona should have tried to lure them out a bit, risky perhaps but could have worked. Also they should have used the spaces better on rare occasions when Inter did venture forward.

      Too much possession in itself isn’t a problem but if it affects your sense of urgency then it can be a problem. I feel with Arsenal especially, when possession is comfortable our tempo goes down. Don’t want to comment on Barca based on this game alone.

  21. David Costelloe says:

    Great headline.

  22. Trojan says:

    You know it’s very funny when we arsenal fan complains that a team packs the bus. When we went to the Nou camp to play ‘sexy’ football, what was the result. Does anyone think Inter would have massively defended if they needed to win to go through? Wenger was so naive to instruct his toddlers to go all out against barca and they got roasted. Yes, inter defended and barca had 101% possession, but do u know that for 45 mins with over 400 pass, barca had only a shot on goal and until pique scored that glaringly offside goal, Julio Cesar was in a bar in Milan?
    No team can win it all… wat was barca thinking of when Inter came from a goal down to score 3 at the Meazza? Until, Arsenal, barca and indeed the whole world recognise defence as an integral part of futbol, they will never appreciate the Thomas Vermaelen, Fabio Cannavaro,Alexandro Nesta and the Sol Campbell of this world. Did i hear you say defending is easier than attacking? Now i see why you are contented to be an arsenal fan without trophy. You must really hate the last trophy wenger won…cos he was more PATHETIC than Inter in that march. Any clue?

    • desigunner says:

      There is a difference between balance and being purely defensive. Inter against Chelsea and Barcelona this year, Inter against United last year, Chelsea against all top teams when the Dark Lord was in charge are all good examples that he has a predominantly negative approach, almost unwatchable. His success also sends a very bad message to the rest of the managers especially at smaller teams.

      Unless you can see beyond one game and the success in this case the whole discussion is meaningless.

  23. david says:

    some valid points both ways but i think with iniesta fit and eto’o in that barca line up they would have won that tie, even with mourinho in charge of the best assembled defensive team ever……………….this barca team is not as strong as the one last season without iniesta and eto’o……i’m a staunch believer in balanced attacking football winning over any overly defensive side

  24. football lover says:

    i agree with this utterly. jose is a pussy who rode his luck from a typically corrupt italian first leg and then stuck 10 men in the penalty area. even if barca had 12 players on field it would,ve been impossible to penetrate. a terrible day for the lover of football as an entertainment. if bojan had scored that easy header who the fuck then would;ve tried to score one back for inter as he took off all his ataackers. FAGGOT. HOPE BAYERN SHOVES IT UP UR ASS.

  25. Guys let be honest, when something is good we should have the courage to state it is good. Honestly, Jose Mourinho is a master of tactics. He always set up, his team with a tactic according to the adversary. He has numerous of tactics in his files. His is the second football manager, I have seen applied numerous tactics during a course of a game. The first was a French football manager called Philip Trousier, the man is a top draw. I was longing to see Inter v Barcelona, ho boy, I couldn’t wait long enough.
    I told friends that, I have seen games where top class players had been stopped. Thus, Messi can be stopped. Messi is a top class player without doubt but he can be stopped. I hope the gaffer Arsene Wenger and our players have learnt something last night. Our systems of play is so predictable and always one way of playing, even when, things are not working, we still playing the same way. I hope and pray that, the gaffer has learnt and jot down something. We need a gaffer like Jose Mourinho.

    • desigunner says:

      I don’t mind appreciating something good. But when a top club plays anti-football consistently against all top opposition then you have to ask some questions. The Dark Lord did the same against Chelsea. He did the same when he was the manager of Chelsea. He did something similar against United last year. And I’m sure he will do the same against Bayern.

      Even when they won at the Camp Nou they had 28% possession. Obviously, they did something right and Barca got somethings wrong. But that’s just one side of the argument. The bigger picture is that if more and more managers take this approach football will be untolerable as it was when the Dark Lord went up against Benitez.

  26. harry says:

    AW does not get credit for the masterclass defending act he led against utd in 05 and to this day our fans criticse this effort. That was the last time he choose to play that way. We can park the bus as well but that’s not the Arsenal way.
    Barca had an incredible 73% possession with inter completing a mere 59 passes mid way in the second half. In the CL semi – awful.
    I thought I was watching the gunners against blackburn.
    I don’t AW needs to learn anything from the special one
    Two different worlds and philosophies.
    AW’s plan will bear fruit playing wengerball as it has in the past.

  27. Trojan says:

    @ Harry…May God help you and Wenger. You all keep referring to the past as if Blackburn and stoke remains stupid like they were in the past. No Plan B, No consistent success/trophy…watch this space. As for Barca, God help them should they drop a point on saturday, then they wud have moved from being the greatest ever to being the fluke of our generation.

  28. I was curious if you ever considered changing the structure of your site?
    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content
    so people could connect with it better. Youve
    got an awful lot of text for only having one or 2 images.
    Maybe you could space it out better?

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