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Michelle Ackermann

Michelle Ackermann

Born in South Africa, soccer has always been a part of my life, and was pretty much ingrained in my genes. Journalism is my second love in life, and what better way to combine my two favorite things in life than to write about the one thing I am most passionate about. I follow the New York Red Bulls religiously, but have a deep passion for La Liga. This passion is part of the reason why I have moved to Barcelona to pursue my dream of becoming a sports broadcaster.


TANGENTS

Barcelona Makes History Reaching Another Champions League Semifinal

Written by on April 4, 2012 | 4 Comments »
Posted in UEFA Champions League

Five thoughts after watching Barcelona beat Milan 3-1 and move into the Champions League once more.

Fair Play
Following the scoreless first leg of the UEFA Champions League Quarterfinal between AC Milan and FC Barcelona at the San Siro Stadium last week, the referees were  criticized on their calls, or lack thereof. Prior to kick off at the Camp Nou, an announcement was made, in both Catalan and Italian, declaring the importance of referees and a kind request that fans and reporters alike should respect the decisions made by these men.

Often times we all think that we would have seen things that these men miss, decisions that could change an entire game. Case in point, the two penalty kicks that were given to FCB; surely one could admit that it was the two penalty goals by Messi (’10 and ’40) that put Barca in a comfortable spot.

Fair? Ask any Italian fan and they will tell you that Xavi, who went unpunished for a late tackle, should have at least received a yellow card.

UEFA Fair Play- the term itself is an oxymoron.

Camp Nou Intimidation?   
Cliché as it may sound, one hears about teams and their concerns prior to visiting the Camp Nou. Perhaps it is the intensity of the fans or maybe it is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Barcelona rarely gets beaten at home ground and you wonder how many teams are beaten before they start.

But after the game Zlatan Ibrahimovic decided he came down on the side of  Jose Mourinho who has been open in his belief that referees favor Barcelona.  Ibrahimovic  empathized with the coaches accusation; “I now understand Mourinho…I’m just disgusted. They are the best team in the world but at 1-1, and playing with intelligence, you can do something.” 

Or maybe Ibra is just looking for a new coach and club.

Messi – Simply Unstoppable
If Messi continues on this record breaking streak, the day will soon come when fans will be left disappointed if he doesn’t rewrite history every time he puts on his jersey. Last night, the Argentine striker scored his 51st goal in his Champions League journey, which started in the 2004/5 season.

He is now the 3rd highest goal scorer in the competition, behind Raul (71) and Van Nistelrooy (56). This season alone, he has already scored 14 goals and is merely one goal away from becoming the player with the most goals in any season.  The second penalty kick taken by the Argentine last night was the one that set him level with Jose Altafini, who managed the same feat in the 62/63 season. Ironically, Altafini did it while playing for Milan.

Barcelona Record
Following the elimination of AC Milan last night, FC Barcelona became the first club to reach Champions League Semi finals five times in a row. This is under the Champions League format that was introduced in the 1992/93 season. Prior to Champions League today, it was the European Cup and Barca made it to the semifinals four times – although not consecutively.

They faced off against Real Madrid (59/60), Hamburg (60/61), Leeds (74/75) and Goteborg (85/86). After 1992, and not including this season, they have made it to the semifinals 8 times, facing off  Porto, Valencia, Real Madrid (twice), Milan, Manchester United, Chelsea and Inter.

Of the 12 appearances FCB has won six and have gone on to win the title four times. Can they add another? We now know that Chelsea stands in their way.

Game Stats
When reflecting on the game stats, it is hard to see how many can claim that Barca was favored by the referees. Barca displayed their world renowned tiki-taka football from beginning to end. Ball possession at the end of the game was 70% for Barca, making one wonder what Allegri focused on in preparation for this match.

Clearly, it was not defense, but on the other hand, it could not have been offense either, since FCB had 21 shots on goal, while AC Milan had a meager 3.

Whether you believe that the referees favored Barcelona, or simply that the better team prevailed, we all wait patiently for the semi-final against Chelsea in two weeks time.

Do you have a #6?

 

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4 responses to “Barcelona Makes History Reaching Another Champions League Semifinal”

  1. Gus Keri says:

    Michelle:

    It’s easy for a Barca fans to say that “we all should respect referees.” Referees were in the majority of times on their side.

    The second PK call was clearly indicative of this. I know you will say that it was a shirt pull and all of that. But giving two PKs in the first half and the matter in which it was done simply deflated Milan.

    It sent a message to all their players that no matter what they did, it was going to be Barca’s night and the ref. would make sure of that.

    Ibra was right to be upset because in the second half he suffered an exact replica of the foul on Messi that led to the first PK, and what did the ref. do? nothing.

    So, yes, Michelle. Barca gets a lot of favors from the ref. at home.

    Saying that, Barca deserved the win and the qualification to the semifinals. Congratulations!

  2. Andre says:

    The second PK was soft for sure but that doesn’t mean the game was rigged. Remember there were two clear penalties Barcelona did not get in the first leg. That is football.

    People can say those goals changed the game but the truth is at 2-1 down Milan had more than half a match to score one goal and it would have put them through. In those 50 minutes or so they didn’t have a single shot on goal. Beyond that they looked completely harmless.

    Something I found interesting was that Milan used part of their last training session to practice penalties. The only scenario that would have resulted in a shootout was a nil draw. Every team is entitled to approach the game however they like but if you go into the Camp Nou thinking you will hold Barsa off the board for 120 minutes… have fun.

    w/r/t the intimidation factor there are scarier places than the Camp Nou. I am sure it wasn’t a pleasant experience for AC Milan but there are grounds in Argentina, Serbia, Turkey, Greece etc that are much worse.

  3. Ed Gomes says:

    Here is where referees and referring comes into question.
    In the Benfica vs Chelsea match the Captain of Benfica, Maxi, gets a yellow for dissent. Since I DVR’ed the match I replayed it over and over. Yes it was a penalty, but when Maxi when to talk to the ref and was waved away he pointed to the Captains band. I didn’t matter, he got a yellow for not going away. I thought Captains were allowed to talk to the ref.
    In Barca, and Real’s, Bayern’s, Milan’s, matches nobody gets a card yet EVERYONE, surrounds the ref after EVERY call. You can actually see Cesc ask for a card on the first penalty call.
    Nothing like consistency.

    I am a believer that “Big” clubs always get preferential treatment. They have the history, or nowadays money, prestige, etc… But when it gets this deep into the CL, you would’ve liked to have seen better consistency.

    On a side note, Mourinho has been playing this ref card since mid season. It’s all so he can maybe get some calls or have refs question themselves when the final comes. That hesitation might save a call or card.
    Let me add that Bayern has the belief and would love to win it at their home stadium. Nothing is for sure, except that Chelsea will get killed if they play the same way verse Barca.

  4. Ed Gomes says:

    One other thing. You can’t deny that Nesta held Busquets kit, but wasn’t Puyols arm wrapped around Nestas midsection? Why was one a hold and not the other? The ref had to see both, if he saw the shirt tug.

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