Barca and Benfica draw leaves Portuguese out of Champions League

barcelona v benfica 2012


The Barcelona FC and Benfica match last night left the outfit from Lisbon knocked out of the Champions League despite playing hard and having more chances than the Catalans. It was an experimental team which Tito Vilanova fielded and a game in which Leo Messi had to be stretchered off injured.

Thankfully, Messi’s injury is not bad and although he could probably play on Sunday for Barca’s away game at Real Betis, coach Tito Vilanova might just rest his star player just in case. Messi didn’t start the game either and Tito brought him on for Rafinha on 57 minutes.

There wasn’t too much football played at the Nou Camp last night according to Barca’s high standards and the Portuguese side were tough competitors. They needed a win to give them hope of qualifying and started to go in hard. Hard tackles were flying about and more than a few Barca players were fouled in the Lisbon team’s efforts of trying to score against the Catalans.

So, what appeared to be a formality before going into the next round of the Champions League, ended dramatically for Barcelona. Lionel Messi, who came on for the last half an hour of the game was injured after a collision with the goalkeeper. Therefore, neither Müller’s historic record could be broken nor a victory over a stubborn Benfica to cash in on. neither mattered to Barcelona though – all they care about was if Leo was alright.

The Argentine’s injury whether it is bad or not, reopens the debate on whether to field the top players in these kinds of matches. It’s all very well to keep these players happy happy and help them achieve personal goals etc, but it is situations like this when you have to sit down and realise what’s at stake. What was at stake last night was Barca’s success in both La Liga and the Champions League. What would happen if Leo got injured and was sidelined for a few months? These are things that Tito must consider.

It is true that virtually all of Barcelona’s first team were rested for this clash and Tito Vilanova gave some minutes to the lesser known players. Only starters David Villa, Carles Puyol and second half substitutions Leo Messi and Gerard Piqué made Barca look like the normal first eleven.

As for the match, the Lisbon team did more than Barca and deserved to take all three points. The Portuguese needed to draw or better the results that Celtic against Spartak and therefore came to the Nou Camp with everything they had. They had chances to win all evening, but the Barca defence, the goal posts and keeper Pinto prevented this from happening. After the nil nil draw at the Nou Camp and Celtic beating Spartak Moscow by 2 goals to one, Benfica go crashing out of the Champions League.

The referee, Svein Oddvar Norwegian allowed Benfica to play hard, which sometimes was a bit too hard. Maxi Pereira should have seen a red card and didn’t even see a yellow. However, you can not blame Messi’s injury on the hard tackling of the Portuguese. Messi practically injured himself trying to get out of the way of an advancing goal keeper.

Barcelona is already in the next round of the Champions League and their opponents will be either Milan, Shakhtar, Arsenal, Porto or Galatasaray. We’ll find out the answer to that when the draw takes place on 20th December.

About Barca Blogger

My name's Steve aka Barca Blogger and one of the founding members of the team at Barcelonafcblog.com. I've been around since the blog started and we aim to bring you the most up to date information on this great club.

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    Valora en Bitacoras.com: After a goalless draw last night at the Nou Camp, Benfica go crashing out of the Champions League as Celtic won their match against Spartak by 2 goals to 1. It was a tough game and Tito fielded an experimental side to face th…..

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