FC Barcelona traveled to Denmark to play FC Copenhagen in Champions League Group D action earlier today. Barcelona came out in a 4-3-3 formation featuring Victor Valdes back in goal with Jose Pinto out serving his suspension. The back four included Dani Alves, Carlos Puyol, Gerard Pique, and Eric Abidal. The midfield consisted of Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernandez, and Seydou Keita. Up front it was David Villa, Lionel Messi, and Andres Iniesta. Copenhagen started in a 4-4-2 formation with Wiland in goal, Pospech, Jorgensen, Antonsson, and Wendt as the back four. Their midfield included Bolands, Kvist, Claudemir, and Vingaard. Their strike partnership was N’Doye and Gronkjaer.
Dominques Claudemir nearly gave the home side a dream start as he launched a rocket off the post from 25 yards out in only the third minute of play. In the 10th minute Copenhagen’s Dame N’Doye, who entered the match with two goals in three CL games thus far, tried to get his head to a ball just outside the box and found Barca keeper Valdes knee instead. It looked like N’Doye took quite a knock but he was up and playing not long after. Fifteen minutes into the match there wasn’t much to speak of as both teams were feeling each other out. Barca had more possession but had not looked any more likely to score than Copenhagen early on.
In the 22nd minute Iniesta sent Villa through but the shot that followed was from a tight angle and struck the far post, rebounding back into play. A freekick by Xavi in the 27th minute found Busquets all alone in front of goal with plenty of time but the shot was shanked right at the keeper and out of bounds for a corner. In the 31st minute Barca were able to break through with a brilliant sequence that saw Busquets long pass find Keita just outside the box. Keita headed Busquets pass beautifully into the path of the charging Villa. Villa was unable to control the ball and the defense poked it away but Messi came in from nowhere, took a quick touch with his left foot, shot with his right foot, off Wiland’s outstretched arm, off the left crossbar and into the back of the net. It was classic Messi and Barca led 1-0.
We all know that you are most likely to concede a goal right after scoring one and the lead didn’t last long as 90 seconds later Copenhagen equalized through Claudemir with an equally impressive sequence. A Jesper Gronkjaer shot from the left wing was only deflected by Valdes and Claudemir swooped in for the goal. The pace of the game was now frantic, with both teams pushing for a second goal. Messi had a well-stuck header that unfortunately went directly at the keeper. Alves had a nice cross that delivered the ball to Messi. Messi was sent through on a beautiful lobbed pass from Iniesta but was unable to control it just in front of the keeper. Barca look to have the initiative at this point just before halftime. In first half stoppage time Abidal overlapped down the left sideline and sent a nice pass to Messi but Wiland made a nice save to setup a corner. The first half finished 1-1.
The second half started out with the same intensity we saw towards the end of the first. All credit to Copenhagen, they are not content to sit back and try to hold on for a point, they are pushing forward just as aggressively as Barca in pursuit of all three points on offer today. In the 59th minute Iniesta used some clever footwork to set himself up for a left-footed shot from close range but the angle was tight and it went right at the Wiland’s chest. Copenhagen have created a couple of half-chances thus far but Barca look more likely to find the second goal. Copenhagen did in fact score in the 74th minute on a beautiful header from N’Doye but the goal was correctly waived off as N’Doye had leveled Abidal in an effort to get open. Immediately after correctly calling N’Doye for a foul the referee had a howler. David Villa had possession of the ball inside the Copenhagen box and was bulldozed over by the defense, with no attempt to play the ball in any way, and play was mysteriously waived on. Terrible luck for Barca to not have the penalty given. As the game headed towards its conclusion it looked certain for a draw until Pedro, who entered for Villa in the 80th minute, nearly won the game in stoppage time with some fancy footwork followed by a rocket shot that struck the far post and deflected back into play.
The match ended 1-1 and a draw was a fair result. The stats will show Barca with a great majority of possession and more shots but Copenhagen were just as likely to add a second goal, and in fact Barca had a bit of luck in scoring their goal today. This was not a case of Barca dominating a game and not being able to finish, a scenario that has played out often in this early part of the season. For those of you who have not seen the past two matches against Copenhagen you need to know this is a quality team. I believe Copenhagen are just as certain as Barca to advance to the knockout stage of the CL. Through four games Barca lead Group D with 8 points, Copenhagen have 7, Rubin Kazan have 3, and Panathinaikos have 2.
I am so impressed with FC Copenhagen right now that if they were in La Liga I would have them finishing top half of the table for sure. Did Barca deserve all three points? Am I too high on Copenhagen? Have your say in the comments section below.