In the immediate media coverage of Inter's 'greatest defeat' against Barcelona, most are saluting the defensive masterclass orchestrated by Jose Mourinho. I agree, for the most part at least but was it a deserved result?
Does the cliché 'you make your own luck' apply to such a planned, organised and at times even cynical approach? Generally this term is awarded to the more dominant, forward thinking side... "Have enough possession and you will create enough chances, create enough chances and you will score"… Maybe, eventually. For me, Inter got what they deserved form the tie and deserved any luck for their methodical preparation and utter stubbornness on the night. Negative? Perhaps. Effective? Very. For me, Mourinho was in a strong position from the ridiculous sending off onwards. Win through and he's a hero, lose and it's to be expected with 10 men against the mighty Barca.
As effective as Inter were in stifling Barcelona, I was disappointed in Barca's tempo and approach. Yes they produced spells of expansive, attractive football but they lacked any real penetration throughout. Besides, I find it a little arrogant that they had no Plan B, unless you count the any-level desperation tactic of pushing a centre-half up top for the last 10 minutes. To be fair, Pique took his goal wonderfully well and even the embarrassingly lacklustre Ibrahimovic would appreciate that touch and awareness. Again the heavily marshalled Messi had little affect on the game yet, that could've been much different but for a world-class save from Julio Cesar. Indeed, if Messi or Barca had scored in the first half we could well have seen the billed 'festival of football'. Given that Messi is undoubtedly the best player on the planet right now, I was surprised by how reluctant he was to take responsibility late on. I lost count of the times he just moved the ball on simply in those last 10 minutes, when the game was crying out for a flash of his unique genius. Perhaps he's saving himself for the World Cup, when he might have to carry Argentina single-handedly.
Alongside this game there was much talk of the beautiful football played by the Catalans but I fear the slow-death of their entertaining style in the modern game. Results are just too important for obvious reasons and the beautiful game could well become a victim of its own projected success. The Special One won't mind at all, he's Lucky in that for every football purist, there's a long-suffering fan who just wants to win. Do his teams entertain? No, not in every game but it will always be pure theatre with Mourinho.