Second spoonful of tar in Catalonia’s honey barrel
Even Inter Milan fans before the meeting with FC Barcelona were full of worries about the outcome of Tuesday’s meeting. This one surprisingly turned out favorable for the hosts. A large role in this, unfortunately, the referee. Not for the first time this season, the arbiter grew into one of the biggest “star players” of the meeting, this time hurting the guests several times. However, this does not change the fact that Xavi’s team presented a miserable performance and is starting to have more and more problems in the group stage of the Champions League.
- FC Barcelona lost to Inter Milan in the third match of the Champions League group stage
- The Pride of Catalonia played a poor match, but was not helped by refereeing decisions either
- After three games, the Blaugrana have only three points on their account and an increasingly difficult situation in the group
Lewandowski synonymous with Barca even in Rome
I had the opportunity to watch the meeting between Inter Milan and FC Barcelona under exceptional circumstances, as at that time I was just on vacation in Rome with my other half. Although the arena of the struggle was to be a city nearly 600 kilometers away from me, in the Eternal City at our resort one could feel the tension before this extremely difficult meeting for the Nerazzurri. Unsurprisingly, Inter was approaching it as a team in a hole, whose players were gradually losing confidence with successive league defeats. The media, under the influence of an overly demanding public opinion, were even already hinting at the possible dismissal of Simone Inzaghi, in the event of a possible defeat.
The last time Barcelona hosted the San Siro, playing with a heavily substituted lineup, they defeated the hosts 2:1. The picture from that encounter was of a slumbering Ernesto Valverde, who, according to mischievous fans, didn’t even worry for a moment that his team could bring back less than three points from Milan. Nearly three years have passed since then, and although Xavi now sits on the coaching bench instead of the affable Spaniard, the mood among members of the Catalan Pride was similar to what it was then. The team seems to be growing with every game, and boasts the best defensive performance of any team in Europe’s top leagues.
Awareness of the Blaugrana’s strength before this match was evident among the fans, with whom I had a chance to have a chat before the arbiter’s first whistle. Praise God that the hotel staff is obliged to speak English, otherwise our small talk would probably have ended with a short monologue on the part of my interlocutor and a nod of the head with a gentle smile wandering across the face on my part.
The Blaugrana has waited a long time for this. Will it approach the Classic as the leader?
– I’m afraid Inter has little chance to win today. Barcelona is very strong right now, and it’s all thanks to Robert Lewandowski. He is seriously amazing. There is a lot of talk about him in our country too,” I heard from one Inter fan.
– A draw would have been a really good result today, without Brozovic Inter’s midfield looks weak,” added another Nerazzurri fan.
On Tuesday night, however, the Italians’ pessimism was not justified on the pitch.
Xavi should slap himself on the breast
Soccer is a sport in which the team that made fewer mistakes wins. As it happens, on Tuesday Xavi made too many of them for Barcelona to reach for the points. The ill-advised idea of positioning Raphinha passively on the left side of the pitch and leaving Alejandro Balde on the bench at the expense of Marcos Alonso, who moves like a coal cart, charge the account of the Catalan Pride coach. Despite the obvious lack of chemistry between the players on the left flank, it was only after 55 minutes that the coach decided to swap Dembele and Raphinha in places. It was far too late.
Last season Barca had a huge problem with teams that, having a favorable result, put a bus in front of the penalty area. This is one of the problems that the coaching staff still hasn’t solved. The Italians on Tuesday took advantage of the ability to play defensive football, which Italian teams have mastered to perfection over the past decades. One gets the impression that in the last 30 minutes of the match at the San Siro, Inter’s players had the buttons responsible for anything other than runs and slides removed from their controllers. Even a hybrid of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Leo Messi would have had trouble breaking through such a tight defense.
During the post-match conference, Xavi did not hide his disappointment, stressing how important the upcoming Champions League matches will be for his team.
– We have to be critical of ourselves today after this match. We now have three finals left in the Champions League. We need to start playing with more intensity,” he said during the post-match press conference. Well. A wise Spaniard after the loss.
Finally, we need to talk about VARA
I would like to express how sorry I am that after another match at the highest European level, instead of the quality of play of both teams, more in the media will talk about refereeing. Recipients of soccer should enjoy the on-field events, which, according to the rules, should be guarded by the arbiter. Slavko Vincic, unfortunately, failed to carry the weight of this meeting and, let’s not be afraid to say it, scandalously distorted the result. Leaving aside questionable decisions regarding individual fouls, this is irrelevant. The Slovenian, as befits a referee, was supposed to make the right decisions in three crucial moments of the match. And in two of them he gave the plainest of fouls.