Good result against Sporting

September 17, 2008

Last night saw Sporting visit the Nou Camp from Lisbon in Portugal for the first match in the Champions League group stage. Guardiola was dressed up to the nines for the occasion, although his customary stubble undermined the effect, and playing Henry, Eto’o and Messi up front.

Barcelona started off pretty much where in the same place they’d been on Saturday, with attack after attack running out of steam. However, in the 21st minute a corner from Xavi found its way to Marquez’s head and into the back of the net.

The first real sign of danger to Barcelona came in minute 30, from a foul by Puyol. Sporting went on the attack and was scrappily saved by the Barça defence and then grabbed by Victor Valdes.

Towards the end of the first half the squad were starting to gel and a hint of the old Barça magic was happening. However, when an attack on the Sporting goal ended in failure in the 43rd minute Sporting took possession completely and the ball was soon up in the Barcelona area creating another moment of danger.

Four minutes into the second half Sporting were on the attack again, the rest period seeming to have not done much for Barcelona. An apparent handball was not given by the ref and Puyol cleared the ball from the area.

Still Barcelona attacked, and in the 59th minute Eto’o scored from the penalty spot, although the foul on him wasn’t clear. Perhaps motivated by this last goal, the squad began to get things together again and play as a team.

With Toure now brought on in place of Eto’o, Sporting put on one very sustained attack that Valdes eventually got his hands to. With the visitors having stepped up their pace a notch or two, a foul on Iniesta went unnoticed and failed to stop play for Iniesta to receive medical attention. Finally in the 71st minute Sporting got their moment and Tonel scored.

Barça keot up their attack until the end and in the 86th minute a pass from Iniesta to Xavi paid off making the final result 3-1 to the home team.

Overall, not FC Barcelona at their best, but perhaps there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Guardiola needs to continue to improve his team if they are going to stand any chance of keeping their European ambitions alive.

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