Soccer is surprising and as far as professional sports go, unusually unpredictable. Yet, we all have our prediction full of sureties and overzealous supporter’s grandeur. These very thoughts are what make soccer so enjoyable to watch. So it brings me much joy to say that yesterday’s Champion’s League matches were massive tests for each side involved. None of which could let their concentration fall because if they did, it was within any of these sides, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and PSG, to strike at its opponent’s weakest moment. And that is exactly what happened.
PSG vs Barcelona
A game of intercontinental giants that thwarted the oil-rich Parisians and world-beating Catalans. A tie that Barcelona is always expected to win only because Barcelona is always expected to win, no matter who the opponent may be. And this night did not disappoint, although some might say it was not a typical night for Barcelona.
What an exciting game it was. At times PSG looked like the dominant side, a side capable of pulling off the unthinkable at a stage where Barca is expected to be there best. Just when you thought PSG was on the verge, the Argentinian maestro, Lionel Messi scores, largely thanks to a brilliant ball from the fiery and oft dangerous Dani Alves. Going into the half, PSG was smiling, they were only down 1-0 after squandering many chances and Messi was off with a hamstring injury. As good as Messi had been, Thiago Silva and co. had done a great job containing him. The loss was not as massive as you might think.
But what did PSG do? What did both teams do? They came out flat. The first quarter-hour of the second half lacked the liveliness of the first 45. But the last half hour provided some serious entertainment. And for PSG’s first goal is a comedy show, a flicked header from arguably PSG’s best player on the day, Silva, to the one of the worst on the day, good old Zlatan. Zlatan found himself a few yards offside but a sideline ref blinded by some oil money(or maybe a roundhouse kick from Zlatan) found it in his heart to throw PSG a bone and keep his flag glued to his hip. In every replay from every angle, Zlatan was offsides by enough to piss off all of the tv pundits, but not enough for that ref. So there it is, Zlatan gives the ball away with every touch and now, after a gift he is involved and interested in the game again. But still, Valdes kept himself composed and PSG could not break through again. The score remained this way until PSG’s keeper, Mr. Sirigu we’ll call him, shut off his brain and gave away a penalty in the 89th minute. Xavi stepped up and calmly passed the ball into the right corner and that was that, the game was a wrap. But no, the previously commended Valdes was left in a seemingly ligament tearing body contortion after a deflected shot from Blaise Matuidi found its way through. Valdes couldn’t recover and with the last kick of the game PSG knotted it at two.
The takeaways from this game are:
1.) that PSG will not go through. They will not go into Camp Nou and win. Even with Messi out of the team Barcelona will run circles around PSG in the return game.
2.) Beckham still has some juice left, albeit slower than ever, he covered some decent ground and was a calming factor in PSG’s midfield
3.) If PSG wants to win, Thiago Silva will have to once again be brilliant in the back and Zlatan will have to show up from the start. These two guys are massively important to PSG’s chances
As for today’s predictions:
Dortmund vs Malaga – Something tells me Coach Klopp will have Dortmund raring to go. This is the only competition Dortmund can still win so I expect a powerful statement-making performance from the Germans. I see this one ending 2-0 in Dortmund’s favor.
Real Madrid vs Galatasaray – In an earlier post, I had mentioned how Galatasaray could be a dark horse in this tournament. I failed to mention that dark horses are easily dumbfounded and conduct electricity well. The white lightning that is Madrid will confuse and befuddle a lack luster Galatasaray back seven and will leave no doubts about their goals in the Champion’s League. I expect this one to be in the 3-0 or 4-1. There is always a chance, even when he is out of form, that Didier Drogba could tuck one away.