Within seven minutes, Manchester United has scored twice after erasing the first leg deficit in third minute. The game appears to be sealed and the probability of the semi-final lineup missing an English club is slim now.
Sir Alex Ferguson had earlier communicated to Jose Mourinho about a Madrid Summit in May. With the draw placing them in different halves, it is just the Barcelona roadblock that needs to be addressed. Jose will have added motivation to beat the club whose fans prefer to know him as the ‘translator’.
Well, Barcelona are not only the best side in the world but also the most entertaining. Last night, I missed out on the entertainment they provided as I waited for the second Arsenal goal until the 88th minute when Messi once and for all settled the tie in favour of the Catalans. Being a fan makes life difficult. And on ocassions, performance of a lifetime does not get appreciated despite watching every second!
I am fairly new to supporting the club format. Until I reached the shores of Old Blighty, World Cup every four years was the only time to catch live football. I vividly member waking up very early in the Manila hotel room, when an unknown (to me) player called Zidane beat everyone’s second favourite team.
[Nani just scored again for MU making it 3-0]
After moving to London, I made the above observation to my German colleague sbout everybody supporting Brazil once their respective home/favourite team is knocked out. He insisted that even if Germany is out before the finals, he does not see any reason to support any other team.
[Bayern has scored one to keep second half interesting which I hope makes that German colleague very happy ;)]
I would like to avoid making any sweeping statements or crass generalisations. So I will update my earlier statement. Everyone, except one German fan, supports Brazil either as their favourite team or the second favourite.
I don’t think a fan chooses his team. Arsenal has failed to win a trophy for several years. Not just that they have been 10 or more points behind the Premiership title holder since they last won. Knowing well that Arsenal are Barcelona lite at best, I kept hoping for the second goal that never came.
Perhaps it is the financial prudence of Arsene Wenger that attracts my lower middle class upbringing. Staying within budget does not sound attractive. To me, making most efficient use of available resources is the only way to be. I prefer to earn not to buy. Arsenal play their game without using muscle, relying on finesse, making short passes keen on teamwork and that makes me feel as if I am looking into the mirror. What if Arsene leaves Arsenal? I sincerely hope not. I prefer not to rven think about it.
[MU now playing with ten players.]
But it will be very exciting to watch Jose against SAF at the end of May. Sir Alex may even hand over the keys to Mourinho if he wins two more titles in the next seven weeks.
But what to do with Messi?
At 22, he has already arrived. Cristiano Ronaldo at MU may have been the best in the past but this year, it won’t matter how often Rooney scores, it will be Messi to take all the accolades.
Almunia is not even the fifth best goalkeeper in the premiership. 1-0 to Arsenal used to be the scoreline when Jens kept the wickets. But over the two legs against Barcelona Almunia did not disgrace himself saving plenty of goals.
[Nani misses again.]
To his credit, all four goals by Messi showed his class. None was scored as a result of a mistake by Almunia. Messi relaxed in the second half, perhaps to preserve himself for game against Real Madrid, but his fourth strike was so beautiful that I forgot my loyalty to Arsenal. The day after, I feel it would have been better if I had watched the game as a neutral.
In Sep 2006, Brazil and Argentina played a friendly game at the Emirates stadium that I watched with my superior half.
[Bayern Munich ahead on away goals.]
That day I liked Kaka more who scored late latching onto a mistake by Messi. Brazil had the bragging rights with a 3-0 win and the cheers they received were mainly from the non-Brazilian fans. There was strong pocketed support for Argentina and I hope they supported Brazil after the outcome was clear in the 89th minute goal by Kaka. I am willing to concede that those Argentine fans put a dampener to my ‘Brazil-second-favourite’ theory. Since none of those expressed their views in person to me, in all fairness, I am entitled to believe that the theory holds water.
[Three minutes to go and MU is still going out.]
Messi spoiled an otherwise half-decent performance by Arsenal. Today Arjen Robben appears to have spoilt this live post by sneaking one against Man U. The defeat in 1999 finals has been avenged. Looks like Jose will have to wait to take over from Sir Alex because SAF needs three European titles on his CV.
[MU is out.]
Messi, go ahead, beat Jose. Get that Title. You deserve to win everything this year.