A brilliant first half performance by the Blaugrana was cancelled out by a below-par second half showing, and after the scores were tied 2-2 at 90 minutes, Barcelona managed to win 4-2 on penalties, with Damiao and Joao Paulo missing their spot kicks.
Guardiola started out with a line-up that kept us all guessing. With only two defenders in the starting XI, I was particularly confused at the formation, but it would not matter. Barcelona were going to dominate this match.
The start was promising enough for the Brazilian side, but only as they did not concede too early, the Blaugrana had all the possession, and were creating the chances.
Iniesta tried a reverse pass to Soriano, as he looked to assert his dominance, but Muriel cut it out. No-one could stop what would come next.
40 yards out, a free-kick with Iniesta standing over it. Too far out for a shot, he played it left to Afellay, who slotted it through to Thiago, and Thiago finished with aplomb. A beautiful goal by an awe-inspiring team.
Two minutes later, and the post was shaken, as Afellay nearly doubled the advantage, with 15 minutes gone, Internacional looked shell-shocked. There would be no mercy, as Iniesta would continue to tear apart the Internacional defense, and the makeshift attack were using Muriel’s goal for shooting practice.
If you had to guess which team were 12 games into their domestic season, and which had just started preparations, I think I know who you would have picked. At the half, Barca were 1-0 up, with all the possession, and all the confidence. It was embarrassing for Internacional.
There must have been stern words during the interval, as Internacional were much better in the second half, as Damiao would run the Barca defense ragged. He first tested Pinto’s near post with a vicious drive, and all-throughout was easily Internacional’s best player.
With Iniesta taken off at half-time, possession levels dropped, and as a result, the attack were isolated, and the front three of Jeffren, Villa and Pedro could not showcase their ability, much to the frustration of Pep, who was barking orders on the touchline. The Brazilians fancied their chances.
They were looking dangerous on the counter, and after Damiao was played through, Pinto rushed out, but hesitated in clearing the ball, and it fell kindly for Ney, who would make no mistake with the finish. It was ill-deserved, but counted nonetheless, Barcelona were level at 1-1, and had it all to do.
Still, the midfield struggled to assert themselves, and chances were few and far between, until Jonathan Dos Santos found a way through on goal, and finished with consummate ease. If they weren’t creating chances, at least they were finishing them!
At 2-1, you could be mistaken for thinking the Blaugrana were through to the final, I certainly did, but Pinto had other ideas.
A moment of madness saw the keeper take on one Internacional player, and beating him, before playing the ball straight to Leandro Damiao, whose shot was headed off the line by Abidal. The resulting corner was duly headed in by Damiao, and Barcelona were tied again.
Despite chances for Pedro and Villa, the game ended 2-2, meaning penalties!
Barcelona took their penalties well (Jeffren excluded), but Internacional looked to emulate the Brazil team from the Copa America, as Damiao and Joao Paulo both blasted their penalties into Row Z. Barcelona were through to the final, but a vast improvement on the second half will be necessary for tomorrow showpiece.
My pick for man of the match is Iniesta, who was simply irresistible in the first half, and truly missed in the second. The longer break looks to have benefitted him greatly, so watch out Real!
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