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Jordi Alba and I apparently feel the same way about this result...

Even biased Barcelona fan that I am, I would never have predicted this victory. Barca arrived at the second leg of this Champions League round without an away goal, having lost to AC Milan 0-2 at the San Siro. In order to stay in the tournament, they had to score at least two goals in regular time AND keep a clean sheet, which they had not managed to do from mid-January to their Saturday match against Deportivo. In that recent match, I had seen promising signs of a sharper Barca, a hungrier Barca... but they had still only scored two goals total against the lowest team in the league standings. Tonight they were going to have to do much, much better.

And they did.

Any doubts I'd had were swept away within the first few minutes of play. Acting captain Xavi Hernandez, just recovered from yet another hamstring injury, not only didn't slow the team down, he led them in one of the finest performances I'd ever seen. Tonight's possession play had a purpose - Barca obviously understood that they needed to score early and often. And so they did, beginning with Leo Messi's left-footed chip over the stunned keeper just five minutes in after a deft one-two with Xavi. Before the end of the half, he had scored his second, this time off an assist from Andres Iniesta, although not before a defensive mistake by Javier Mascherano left a Milan striker alone in front of an open goal, only pure luck and the post averting disaster.

Ten minutes into the second half, David Villa had his turn after patiently playing center forward with few touches for so long, with Xavi again providing the assist. Racing right past his delighted teammates, David slid on his knees, head thrown back, in front of the cameras, his feelings of triumph so palpable that tears came to my eyes. And even then Barca didn't back off. Naturally, the last ten minutes of the match were the most nerve-wracking, since if AC Milan had scored, they still would have won 4-3 in the aggregate, but with Carles Puyol coming on for Masche and Adriano taking the place of Pedro, the Barca defense managed to hold firm. And it was leftback Jordi Alba who scored the last goal in extra time, surging up in front of frantically backtracking defenders to receive a long cross from substitute Alexis Sanchez and nutmeg the hapless keeper.

It was a night with many moments of individual brilliance - Messi was mesmerizing, Alba was a bullet, Xavi bossed like a boss, Busi seemed to be everywhere at once - but the most impressive aspect was how well Barca were playing collectively again. They came out fighting from the first second, pressed hard, always made it their business to get the ball back, and anticipated each other like mindreaders in the midfield. Truthfully, I hadn't seen them play a match like this for... way too long. But when they do, this team is unbeatable. What a beautiful game!

Illa Villa maravilla!


And once again, Andres delivers, both during and after the match

You just know that Andres took this shot of Victor too

If I had to pick only one Man of the Match, I guess it would be this guy

Som Un Equip
But this is the real reason that we won tonight


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 13th, 2013 03:04 pm (UTC)
His little face, omg, lol!

Nah see I thought we'd be fine. We can do backs to the wall, the pressure might even have helped.

That's why he's captain (and Puyi got given the armband when he came on, cannot deal with this right now). Iniesta looked totally up for it too.
So happy for Villa, him personally more than the goal really.
They did all deliver exactly as they should, good day to be a cule.

Gracias a todos Andresito. ;)
Messi-Alves is one of the best and most underrated bromances in the world.

Yes exactly. :)
Mar. 13th, 2013 04:58 pm (UTC)
Hahahaha, he was so, so happy! Ran over to the sideline to hug the staff, too.

Wow, I envy your confidence. I mean, I knew that we *could* do it, but I honestly didn't trust that we *would*.

Xavi was so calm and cheerful before the match started; I would have been having a coronary. Iniesta looked a little shaky with his passes at first, not gonna lie, but he totally took charge later.

I was SO happy for Villa. He spent the first half drawing defenders away from Messi, and it was great to see him get a goal of his own.

I love how devoted Dani is to Leo. They seem SO different, but they have a wonderful connection on the pitch, and they're just adorable together.
Mar. 13th, 2013 05:15 pm (UTC)
Aww I know, it was the cutest thing. :)

lol I don't always have that, was totally freaking out when Milan got the ball; but have to believe in the team really. No logical reason to fail (not that football is logical).

Must have just been happy to get out there again. Hmm yes that's true on reflection.

Yes, they're a good team for that; but he needs some love too.

Me too, it's so sweet; a bit like Sese & Iker maybe.
Mar. 13th, 2013 05:25 pm (UTC)
Hahaha, yes, Sese and Iker, there's another odd couple for sure, but it's very sweet to see how they support each other.
Mar. 13th, 2013 05:48 pm (UTC)
Exactly, I totally don't see them as a slash pairing (will read it because they're both hot, but yeah) but do like the interaction. A proper platonic bromance.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )



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