Without doubts, the new football era has just started. Referee Frank Bleeckere’s final whistle at the Camp Nou this evening just marked Inter Milan’s triumph over Lionel Messi’s FC Barcelona in the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League.
The title holders went down at the San Siro 3-1 last Tuesday following the official’s favoritism for Jose Mourinho’s Inter, but the Catalans were not able to overturn their negative score line at home in Spain. Hence, a 1-0 victory for Pep Guardiola’s team subsequent to Gerard Pique’s goal was not enough to keep the Blaugrana alive in the Champions League.
How Barcelona became the “Unbeatable Side”
After keeping their courage despite their controversial victory over Chelsea in the semifinals of the European Championship last season, Barcelona went on to defeat Premier League defending champions Manchester United 2-0 in the final.
As they won the treble that season, the Catalans had the chance to compete in three additional tournaments, which were the Spanish Super Cup, the UEFA Super Cup, and the FIFA Club World Cup.
At everyone’s amazement, Barcelona finished their 2009 year with the snatching of all six possible cups, and Lionel Messi played a major role in the creation of their incomparable success. With this achievement valuing their greatness, the Blaugrana became the “unbeatable side,” according to many journalists, players, coaches, and fans.
Messi himself declared that his club was undefeatable when in form, but surely without knowing it, such a statement coming out of his mouth went straight across the ears of his biggest enemies. Regardless, Barcelona kept powering their 2009-10 season with precious victories in all possible competitions. But nevertheless, they suffered an early Copa del Rey exit when they lost to Sevilla.
Yet, Barcelona tried to cope with what they still had left, and it seemed like everything was on track. Humiliating Champions League victories against Stuttgart and Arsenal when Lionel Messi revealed his strongest goalscoring skills, as well as convincing wins in La Liga, were just enough to confirm the might of the FIFA Club champions.
Nonetheless, Barcelona knew that in order to seal their excellence in football, they had to defend their Champions League title. And it was only then that they faced their toughest challenge as they were placed against the Special One’s army in all its power.
Jose Mourinho's triumph, controversy, and the end of Barcelona's reign
The clash between Inter Milan and Barcelona had many representations for the majority of football fans, among which were: Jose Mourinho vs Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto’o vs Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and a few others. Unexpectedly, Inter Milan immediately stamped their authority on the Azulgranas by stealing a controversial 3-1 victory at the San Siro when they both met on April 20.
Video highlights clearly showed the partiality of referee Olegário Benquerença, who is said to be a long-time friend of Inter coach Jose Mourinho. But bizarrely, the Portuguese manager justified his side’s triumph by repeatedly putting emphasis on referee Tom Ovrebo’s favor toward Barcelona last year against Chelsea at the Stamford Bridge in the Champions League.
This angered Barca fans and players, and since the second leg was set to be played at home, the least Barcelona could do was to secure a 2-0 win. All eyes were then set on the Champions League’s top scorer, Lionel Messi, and his potent teammates. Yet, things did not really prove to go as positively as Catalan fans were hoping.
Despite the sending-off of former Barcelona player Motta after 26 minutes of action, an ineffective Zlatan Ibrahimovic was incapable of giving the hosts the lead. Inter then decided to play a completely negative game, and with Lionel Messi only being able to make intelligent and short passes outside the D, Barcelona were struggling to make goalkeeper Julio Cesar work.
Messi , however, came close to scoring late in the first half, but it was the second half which proved to be more promising. A few substitutions from Pep Guardiola enabled Bojan Kikrik and Jeffren to make their entries into the game, and on 84 minutes, Gerard Pique scored an offside opener, which truly got the home crowd on their feet.
Barcelona kept pressing on for a second goal which would have been the saving goal to reach the final, but it never came. Dani Alves was in some way fouled inside the box by Ghanaian midfielder Sulley Muntari, but the referee waved away the appeals for a penalty.
In the end, the clash ended on aggregate, 3-2 at the delight of Inter Milan, and coach Jose Mourinho—who was verbally abused before the game by opposing fans—could only run onto the pitch after the final whistle to celebrate was is said to be his sixth Champions League final in six years, and the beginning of a new football era.
Lionel Messi and Barcelona’s powerful empire has now collapsed under the invasion of the Special One. No matter what happens to the Nerazzurri at the Bernabeu Stadium in the final against Bayern Munich, Mourinho can feel proud that he broke the chains and realized the dreams of Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid, and all the previous victims of Barcelona’s incursion.
Surely—not counting the invasion of Pep Guardiola last season in soccer—football has not witnessed an achievement as memorable as the one Jose Mourinho just did, since a couple of years. Perhaps, it will take a lot of strength and cleverness from the next coach which will be able to make such an attainment.
Currently, most Barcelona fans might be complaining about their unjust defeat against Inter Milan in the semifinals of the Champions League; while others might wonder if and how Jose Mourinho was able to do what was previously regarded as the “impossible."