Camp Nou was an intimidating site for this semifinal’s second leg. Inter manager Jose Mourinho was startled while traveling to a pre-match press conference. Barcelona fans mauled his car and police were needed to clear the area and protect an unharmed Mourinho. This called for a boost in security and even more energy added to the atmosphere—as if it were needed.
96,000 screaming fans packed the house and the decibels were at maximum force for this crucial second leg.
Barcelona entered the match without any doubts of what they are capable of as a side. They knew a 2-0 result is all that was needed to be on to their second consecutive Champions League Final. Coincidentally this was the result they got back in the group stages when Inter visited the Camp Nou.
Inter on the other hand came into the second leg an extremely confident side. They held a 3-1 aggregate lead and knew that they were in the driver seat despite being away from the San Siro.
Once underway Barcelona were keen to control the possession once again.
Inter seemed way more passive than usual and in no rush to restart action during any opportunity they were given.
Barcelona seemed to be given a step longer of space than in the first leg, but they still struggled to develop anything threatening in the Inter area.
The first real opportunity came in the 23rd minute, when Pedro sent a volley just wide of the target from the top of the area.
The match took a dangerous turn for Inter in the 28th minute when the official made an awful decision. Thiago Motta was shown a straight red card when Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets made a real meal of a slight hand to the face. The infraction wasn’t even worthy of a caution, but nonetheless, Inter was a man down and riding a slippery slope so early in the match.
This horrendous decision forced Inter back into a completely defensive mindset. Inter packed it in and were ready to simply sit back and dare Barcelona to try to solve the defense.
In the 33rd minute Lionel Messi almost sent Camp Nou into an eruption when his curling, left-footed effort from the top of the area was just pushed wide of the post by the diving fingertip save of Julio Cesar.
It remained scoreless at the halfway point, but Barcelona certainly felt they were the superior side. They dominated in every facet of the match and spent the whole half on Inter’s side of the pitch. However, they were surely lamenting the fact that they hadn’t scored an early goal to disrupt Inter’s mindset.
Inter on the other hand were surely pleased with the score line. At the same time the Nerazzurri had to be reminded that they had quite a mission still ahead of them. Mourinho surely pointed out the fact that they were not only playing a man down, but they also weren’t going to be given any breaks in this match.
The second half began in suffocating fashion again, as Inter continued to be content in allowing Barca all the possession and long ranged efforts they pleased.
After a near 40-minute span had surpassed in the second half the desperation and patience finally paid off for the Catalans. In the 82nd minute Messi curled a brilliant ball just over the head of Samuel perfectly onto the on running Bojan’s head, which he headed just wide of the post.
In the 84th minute Barcelona finally found a route through the Inter defense when Xavi slipped Pique through on goal, and his patience and composed attitude provided a twirling move that faked out a sliding Cordoba and Julio Cesar in order for him to slide in the goal and give Barcelona a 1-0 lead. Pique tiptoed the offside line and impressed with such a bold move in such a tense moment.
This put Inter on their last nerve and pushed a Barca side into a full forced wave of momentum.
In the 87th minute the crowd was sent gasping again after a strong Julio Cesar denied Jeffren and Messi efforts.
Inter had ten men back within 20 yards of their own goal and just simply were trying to count the seconds off the clock with every targetless clearance they launched down the pitch.
When the final whistle blew it was 1-0 Barcelona on the night, but 3-2 Inter on the aggregate, and the Inter side burst onto the pitch in celebration as they had earned a trip to the Champions League Final.
Barcelona will be extremely disappointed to be eliminated from the competition after out playing and out possessing their opponent to such an extreme extent in the second leg. They will call out their opponents for their quick falls and constant time delays, and surely accuse Inter of “parking the bus” in defense. But nonetheless, they will be forced to apply their attention to La Liga, as the first leg performance cost them dearly in this semifinal.
Inter will be ecstatic with the advancement through to Madrid and the Final to face Bayern Munich. They once again strangled the Barcelona assault and made one of the classiest attacks in the world look rather ordinary. They will credit a strong first leg result and an organized defense for the terrific result, and continue their journey for Champions League glory.
Valdes 5.5— The keeper was never challenged by a defending Inter side. The majority of his action was gathering Inter clearances at the halfline.
Toure 5.5— The Ivorian wasn’t given much of a defensive task to take care of and didn’t contribute well in the attempt to solve the Inter defense.
Pique 6.5— The center back did well to keep his side organized and aggressive in the absence of Puyol. He also scored the lone goal that gave Barcelona late hopes on slick twirling move that fooled the defense.
Milito 5.0— Subbed out at halftime when a more attack minded Maxwell was needed.
Alves 5.0— The Brazilian failed to produce up his right wing. His services were errant and he failed to penetrate the Inter defense with his speed. Was caught offside a couple of times.
Busquets 5.0— The midfielder’s reaction, that is surely to be criticized, is what gave his side the one man advantage. Subbed out in the 63rd minute after providing Barcelona minimal production.
Keita 5.0— His long ranged efforts were useless and he didn’t have the magic to disrupt the Inter defense.
Xavi 6.0— The Spanish playmaker did well to spread the pitch and keep possession. Also assisted on the lone goal of the night with nice simple ball to Pique.
Pedro 6.0 —The attacker was Barcelona’s best player in the first half, but he failed to test Julio Cesar with his half chances. Slipped off in the second half when Barcelona needed him to contribute to the attack.
Messi 6.5— The Argentine never managed to capitalize on the few occasions he was able to penetrate Inter’s suffocating defense. Tough circumstances for him as he was constantly under the watch of a trio of tough Inter defenders. Provided a tremendous ball to Bojan that was headed wide.
Ibrahimovic 5.0— The Swedish striker was once again hardly a factor in his time on the pitch. Subbed out in the 63rd minute after his size advantage wasn’t put to use.
Maxwell 5.0 —Didn’t provide much attack up the left wing.
Bojan 5.0— Is begging for that late chance back when he headed a perfect Messi pass just wide of the target.
Julio Cesar 6.5— The Brazilian keeper did his part in stopping the late Barcelona wave of attack. Handled two Messi efforts with class and pushed aside all late attempts from danger accept for the lone goal where he was faked out of his shorts.
Zanetti 7.0— The Argentine was composed and once again a key contributor in the containment of Messi. His relentlessness, stamina, and willpower are to be admired more and more after every display.
Samuel 7.5— The center back was constantly stepping up to intervene all attacks once they were about to enter a threatening area. Was a force in the back and always first to every ball within his grasp. Crucial block after crucial block after crucial takeaway.
Lucio 7.0— The Brazilian was strong and aggressive in the back as usual. Intercepted and cleared over a half dozen crosses and constantly won crucial battles in the air.
Maicon 6.0— The Brazilian did well in clearing the ball from his right back position. Also dribbled out of pressure numerous times to give his side a breather.
Cambiasso 7.0— The Argentine continues to be the rock in the defensive midfield. Has constantly been the key to containing the opposition’s best attacker and tonight was no different. The positioning and dispossessing were critical.
Thiago Motta 4.5— The midfielder was sent off on an extremely harsh decision in the 28th minute. Didn’t produce much in the few minutes early on.
Sneijder 5.0— The Dutch playmaker didn’t produce many attacks, but wasn’t really given the opportunity after the red card and change in strategy. Showed good effort and energy to chase and harass Barcelona possession.
Chivu 5.5— The Romanian played his role perfectly. Did well in retreating as far back as necessary to provide another obstacle in the Barcelona attacker’s paths.
Eto’o 5.5— The Cameroonian did well to once again track back and provide help in the midfield. His hard work and effort displays his selflessness and he continues to impress with the expansion of his overall ability.
Milito 5.5— The Argentine did well to hold up the ball and balance himself well enough to provide his defense with proper rest between Barcelona possessions. His willingness to absorb physical punishment in the front by his lonesome was a contribution.
Muntari 5.5— The midfielder provided Inter with energy and another body to harass the Barcelona attack for the final 25 minutes.
Cordoba 4.5— The Colombian was beaten on the goal by Pique.