Monday, April 28, 2008

All or nothing

It always seemed to be a matter of when not if Depor would score on Saturday. Barcelona were, to a man, absolute rubbish. Depor had twenty-something shots on gol and it's a minor miracle that they didn't put more past Pinto, making his debut for the blaugrana. Bojan is about the only player who didn't disgrace himself completely. It was clear from before the match, given the line-up and the squad from which it was selected that Rijkaard was putting all his eggs in the basket marked Champions League.

Barcelona are now four points back from Villarreal and playing like that they're certainly not going to catch them. So much will of course depend on Tuesday night's result. Win and it's onward to the final and the failings in La Liga, while they cannot be ignored will seem lessened somehow. Should they lose though the knives will be out for Rijkaard, who's gone in the summer no matter what, and the blame game will begin.

There's been good news of sorts from Manchester today regarding the fitness of Wayne Rooney and
Nemanja Vidic, neither of whom trained today. Vidic missed the first leg in the Camp Nou thanks to a stomach upset and he took a fierce blow to the head on Saturday when Didier Drogba accidently kneed him in the face. Rooney, who hasn't looked at one hundred percent for a while now, limped off with a shin injury against Chelsea. Both would be a big loss, especially Vidic, who's been a rock at the centre of United's defense all season long.

On the blaugrana front, the squad is pretty much as expected. All who sat out the debacle on Saturday are back in, with the addition of Puyol, who was suspended for the first leg. Marquez, who deputised well for the captain a week ago, is himself forced to sit out the game thanks to his yellow card. The only notable absentee is Gio Dos Santos, who was unlikely to feature anyway.

As to the result, I'm hopeful but not confident. Neither side is in good form at the moment but Barcelona can't buy a gol right now. I'll be watching the game in the Oval on Abbey Street with the Catalans a Dublin crew, screaming "puta!" a the television at every opportunity I imagine. I'll stick my neck out and say that the blaugrana will win on away gols.

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