FC Barcelona 1 Paris Saint-Germain 1 (3-3 on aggregate: Barça win on away goals)

barcelona 1-1 paris sg pedro goal 2013Barça reached a record sixth consecutive Champions League semi-final tonight after a nail-biting 1-1 draw with Paris Saint-Germain. For 20 minutes of the second half PSG were ahead in the tie after Javier Pastore fired the visitors in front. Tito Vilanova needed to call for a half-fit Leo Messi to inspire Barça’s comeback which arrived thanks to Pedro Rodriguez’s strike in the 71st minute.

As expected Messi wasn’t fully recovered from his injury and started on the bench, Adriano was preferred over Marc Bartrá to partner Gerard Piqué in defence while up front Pedro started on the left with Cesc Fabregas roaming behind a central David Villa while the right side was left open for Dani Alves to attack.

The opening exchanges were quick and fast. Xavi sent a free kick curling inches wide. PSG responded with Lavezzi getting a shot from inside the area that went straight at Valdés, and soon after a poor ball from Busquets gave Lavezzi a run towards the area but he lost control allowing Piqué to get a toe in and Valdés cleared.

The need to avoid stupid mistakes in the knock-out stages is obvious, but in the 5th minute it was PSG’s normally reliable Thiago Silva who slipped while taking a defensive free-kick; then to deny Fabregas a clear run at goal the defender was forced to play the ball a second time which earned Barça an indirect free kick that was fired into the wall by Villa.

Barça continued to push forward. Iniesta and Pedro both had shots blocked, then Iniesta tried his luck from 45 yards but sent his shot just over. But the danger was always there from PSG with Lucas Moura forcing a low diving save from Valdés, and soon after Lavezzi fired over from 25 yards.

Alves failed to have much impact on the right side but in the 17th minute he got forward to send in a low cross that was met by Villa with a quick shot that deflected off Alex for a corner. Four minutes later Pedro got past Jallet and crossed from the left, PSG keeper Salvatore Sirigu dived to push the ball out but after hitting Thiago Silva it bounced back to Pedro who could only shoot into the side-netting from a tight angle.

At this point the game was fairly even but as the first half progressed PSG began to get the better of things. Lavezzi was working hard to follow Sergio Busquets and the Barça midfield  was struggling to find its normal fluency. Then in the 24th minute Adriano’s defensive header only went as far as Ibrahimovic who sent a magnificent pass for Lavezzi’s diagonal run and Valdés had to demonstrate why many consider him the best in the world in one-against-one situations with a low save to his left.

PSG were encouraged. Next Ibrahimovic made a run to the left to receive Veratti’s pass before sending a cross to the far post where Moura rose above Alba to head for goal and Valdés had to tip the ball over. From the corner Valdés again had to spring to make a fine save from Alex’s header though referee Bjorn Kuippers had already blown for Moura’s offside.

barcelona 1-1 psg valdes save 2013Barça were failing to create much danger going forward with Villa being given no space by the presence of Alex and Thiago Silva. The PSG defence wasn’t worried again until the 37th minute when Xavi’s clever dummy allowed Pedro’s pass to run to Villa but the final shot went high. Barça’s shooting all night was a bit wayward and next it was Fabregas who missed the target after setting his sights from 25 yards. There were few attempts to play the ball through the middle to Villa, and then when Iniesta did play the pass, Fabregas was just too slow to react to Villa’s neat flick.

There was a sense of relief to go in 0-0 at half time but enough had been seen of PSG in the first 45 minutes to suggest the second half would be far from easy. Barça began the second period in much the same manner. The team pushed forward, Alba won a corner, Fabregas sent another long shot wide, but there was a sense of caution that looked unlikely to surprise the French defence. Then in the 50th minute Pedro played a poor ball towards the PSG area which was quickly cleared to Ibrahimovic near the centre spot. The lanky Swede showed class to knock the ball off to Pastore while spinning away into space to then play a wall pass back to Pastore who left Alves and Adriano in his wake before clipping the ball past Valdés.

The fear of elimination shot across Camp Nou. Barça have come back from a goal down plenty of times playing at home. However, the feeling was that PSG’s defence was not too troubled and Vilanova sent Messi out to warm up as a response. Until Messi came on, however, Barça continued to threaten little. The best chance came in the 57th minute when Fabregas played the ball back for Villa to shoot but the ball hit Alex before going wide and to make things worse Kuippers indicated a goal kick.

Ibrahimovic continued to cause the Barça defence problems, sending a fine pass into Pastore who skied his shot. From the goal-kick Valdés inexplicable passed the ball straight to an opponent and Busquets was forced into conceding a free-kick from which Valdés again had to save from Moura’s curler. Barça’s response was a cross from Alba that reached Alves but again the final shot was poor, going well over.

Having warmed up for nearly ten minutes Messi was finally brought on in place of Fabregas in the 62nd minute while Bartrá replaced Adriano who almost inevitably pulled up with another muscular injury. The impact of Messi was immediate, but not so much for his own contribution as for the effect it had on his team-mates. Iniesta began to have more effect, dribbling between two in the area only to be denied by Thiago Silva’s last ditch block.

Barça began to pile on the pressure. From a corner both Piqué and Iniesta had shots block. Then soon after, Iniesta went on another run into the area, Sirigu parried his shot and Messi couldn’t react in time to shoot though the ball fell for Fabregas whose shot was also blocked. PSG still looked dangerous on the break with Pastore being allowed to advance into shooting range though his shot was well off target, and soon after Valdés had to be quick to intercept Ibrahimovic’s head down.

Barça’s equalizer finally came in the 71st minute. Veratti sent a long crossfield clearance straight to Alves just inside the PSG half, Alves advanced and played the ball inside to Messi who accelerated between Veratti and Motta before sending a ball in for Villa who despite being closely marked managed to knock the ball back to Pedro who cracked the ball past Sirigu from the edge of the area.

barcelona 1-1 psg pedro goal celebration 2013The relief was enormous but there was still 20 minutes to play. Messi appeared to feel something from his injury and he probably only broke into a run three or four times in the remainder of the game. Barça played keep-ball, pretty successfully, as if Messi’s mere presence created order. However, PSG didn’t give up, throwing on Kevin Gameiro and David Beckham, Gameiro curling a shot well over soon after coming on. Vilanova’s respect for PSG was evident in Barça’s final substitution with Alex Song replacing Villa with six minutes to go.

barcelona 1-1 psg ibrahimovic busquets 2013Iniesta continued to be Barça’s most inspired outfield player, making one splendid run into the area, beating Jallet once before spinning to beat him again, though his shot, like the majority of the shots from both sides tonight, was off target. The tension lasted right to the end, with Piqué sending one clearance straight to late substitute Gregory Van der Wiel but Bartrá got across to intercept the danger. Deep into injury time, with memories of the first leg all too present, a high ball came in towards Ibrahimovic in the area, Camp Nou held its breath, but Zlatan failed to get a good header and Valdés caught the ball comfortably under the bar.

Despite Barça excellent record in qualifying for the sixth straight UCL semi-final, it is never easy at these stages and PSG proved to be a very strong opponent. The tie could have gone either way and if you take the two legs as a whole, Victor Valdés was probably our most important player. There were obviously problems for Barça tonight with the limited contribution from Messi and the makeshift defence. However, there is a clear need for an improvement before the semi-finals. Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich await us in Friday’s draw. The road to Wembley has one more obstacle. We will have to be at our best.

Barça: Valdés 7.5; Alves 6, Piqué 6, Adriano 6 (Bartrá m62, 6.5), Alba 7; Busquets 5.5, Xavi 6, Iniesta 7.5; Villa 7 (Song m84, 6.5), Fabregas 5.5 (Messi m62, 7), Pedro 7.

Paris SG: Sirigu; Jallet (Van der Wiel m87), Thiago Silva, Alex, Maxwell; Thiago Motta, Verratti (Beckham m83); Lucas Moura, Lavezzi (Gameiro m81), Pastore; Ibrahimovic.

Goals: m50 Pastore 0-1, m71 Pedro 1-1.

Yellow cards: m42 Adriano, m80 Lavezzi, m86 Thiago Siva, m90 Beckham

Attendance: 96,022

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16 Responses to FC Barcelona 1 Paris Saint-Germain 1 (3-3 on aggregate: Barça win on away goals)

  1. Caleb says:

    This game took a few years off my life.

    Personally, I was really surprised that Pedro started. Barça always has problems scoring without Messi. So, since they actually put five past a side without him in the previous game, why wouldn’t you keep the same attacking line? Momentum is as important as anything in soccer.

    I do recognize that Pedro scored the goal. But I don’t see him scoring if Messi isn’t on the field. If I was Alexis, I would be really confused. Finally put in a really good performance and then not get a chance in the next game.

    That being said, Fab was terrible. Maybe having Alexis with him would have helped. Maybe not.

    Anyway, there were tons of really crappy passes and lots of mistakes—Some from Xavi and Busquets, who you would expect to show more composure in games where they need to step up when other players (read Messi) are missing.

    That turn form Iniesta at the end was one of the sickest things I’ve seen for a long time. Iniesta is amazing.

    Well, hopefully we find better form soon. I’ve still got the feeling that the ship is still sailing but there are some serious leaks that need to be fixed if we don’t want to sink.

  2. Caleb says:

    Also, I wish Moura was on our team. That kid can play. Talk about pace. He gave us a lot of headaches. This was one of those few ties where Busquets lack of pace really was exposed.

  3. Caleb says:

    In fact, this is exactly the type of game where having Masch as a defensive mid would be perfect, IMO.

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  6. layibiyi says:

    Glad that is over.

    I think it’s useful to keep in perspective how many barca champions League games have come down to the last second over the years. There have been at least one every year. It isn’t easy no matter how powerful you might think we can be. Dortmund were basically out before an angel descended, bayern had to result to time wasting tactics to put off arsenal from knocking them out, Madrid were out against man utd before the ref went bonkers. Nothing is easy I repeat, you need many factors working in your favor to progress in this tournament. At the end of the day, nobody will care how you got there.

    Adriano just cracks me up all the time. Dude’s too funny, definitely at least 3 weeks because he comes back to play another 60 minutes. I was impressed overall with bartra apart from when he took off like a mad man after some 50-50 air ball. Good kid.

    I’ll like to see us against bayern, who do y’all

  7. layibiyi says:

    Glad that is over. Congrats boys, 6 straight semi finals, that says a lot. It’s probably going only way to show how a club owned an era considering how difficult it is to win the champions League nowadays.

    I think it’s useful to keep in perspective how many barca champions League games have come down to the last second over the years. There have been at least one every year. It isn’t easy no matter how powerful you might think we can be. Dortmund were basically out before an angel descended, bayern had to result to time wasting tactics to put off arsenal from knocking them out, Madrid were out against man utd before the ref went bonkers. Nothing is easy I repeat, you need many factors working in your favor to progress in this tournament. At the end of the day, nobody will care how you got there.

    Adriano just cracks me up all the time. Dude’s too funny, definitely at least 3 weeks because he comes back to play another 60 minutes. I was impressed overall with bartra apart from when he took off like a mad man after some 50-50 air ball. Good kid.

    I’m gonna miss valdes, still can’t believe we will have a different goalkeeper soon

    I’ll like to see us against bayern, who do y’all prefer

  8. cftc10 says:

    Reblogged this on cftc10.

  9. Fredegar says:

    That was a great game to watch. Congrats to Paris who refused to park a bus and showed that you can get a result against us while accepting to play. They were cohesive in defense, had an excellent pressing (actually better than the one we offered, which is rare), and kept the ball well before sending their arrows straight through our block. Only thing is they could only hold this rhythm for 70 mins and were completely carbonised at the end of the game.
    Some positives for us, and the first one is of course Valdes: I’ve always rated him highly (well, always no, let’s say from 2005 onwards), but at this moment he is really playing like the best keeper in the world, hats off Victor!
    The second is our resilience, I never lost hope, remembering the start of our season when we constantly found answers at the end of the games: this team really doesn’t like defeat and knows how to find a way!
    In the negatives, we suffered from below par performances from too many of our key players, especially Xavi and Busquets who were dominated, our attack looked toothless until Messi arrived, and the least said about our defense the better. In particular, Paris constantly found an uncovered man between our lines. Also our pressing was particularly tame yesterday, if this was designed to not allow Paris to counter with speed, it failed spectacularly. I know you wouldn’t believe we have qualified when you read this paragraph, but I’m genuinely worried that we won’t be able to get to the final with this kind of display, we’ll have to elevate our level and find solutions in defense.
    Still, a sixth consecutive semi-final is a fantastic achievement and I am, as always, very proud of my team! Visca Barça!

  10. Fredegar says:

    Well, that’s lovely: Sid Lowe says that Fabregas became a father during the game and that he and his partner named their girl Lia.
    You’ve got to love this club…

    • barcacentralnic says:

      It’s true about Fabregas, I wonder if that affected his game last night.
      In other news just out Messi should be ok for the semi-finals, he will rest against Zaragosa but should have time to recover for the semis in two weeks

  11. bc9jaCule says:

    First off, I’ll like to congratulate the team for achieving such a magnificent feat of a sixth consecutive 1/2-final in the CL – no matter the circumstances surrounding it.

    I understand, as fans, our sometimes never-ending & unrealistic expectations, but seriously, we must comprehend that it’s quite difficult for a team with the same core to still be as motivated & ambitious as ever -despite having won everything winnable over and over again.

    Actually, I’ve got my own reservations about a couple of issues concerning our performance and some particular players but, right now, all that matters is that we are in the semis & I want to appreciate all the personnel responsible for that.

    PS: Congratulations Papa Cesc!

    Gracias Barça!!!!!
    Visca Barça!!!!!
    Força Barça!!!!!

  12. Alexander Schurmans says:

    How many goals needed PSG to go to the semi finals? I thought it had to be 1-3.
    (I’m a barca fan)

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