Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Messi-inspired Barca triumph; Bayern oust Juve

Messi fulfilled one of those cliched sports moments; he came off the bench, playing hurt, and inspired his team to victory (on aggregate). He injured his hamstring in Paris and was named to the bench. Both sides started conservatively, feeling the other team out. It wasn't until the second half when the tie really heated up. PSG came out with a desire for a goal; they did not park the bus by any means. They looked to dispossess Barca, not an easy task, and attack them at pace. Zlatan turned into a creator for Pastore for the following.

Barcelona had to score after that goal but PSG still searched for a second; a bold tactic for Ancelotti to employ but his side looked very threatening. Barca pressed on as Messi came on even barely half-fit for the game. Barca's passing had them in behind the defense shortly after but Messi uncharacteristically couldn't sort out his feet and a clear chance was wasted. He, however, helped push forward again and Pedro was able to place a perfect lay-off from David Villa into the back of the net.

PSG didn't have much for chances after this (Pastore had wasted one previous to Pedro's equalizer) but Iniesta put on a bit of a show near the end of regular time.

History was made by Xavi; he completed 96 of his 96 passes. Read it and weep. Amazing.
Sadly, the Bayern-Juve tie wasn't nearly as interesting. Juve looked up for it in the early stages with Neuer having to punch away a fierce free kick from Pirlo. It was quiet until after the break when Bayern looked to put the tie to bed; Mandzukic headed in a rebound from a weak Buffon punch (how many times has he done that this season?) and his replacement added a 90th minute consolation.

The quarterfinals are now finished and the semifinal draw awaits. The Champions League should deliver another tantalizing round of fixtures! I'm hoping for Barca-Dortmund and Bayern-Real with a dream final of Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid.

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