The First Legs of the Champions League semifinals are in the book, and though we some spectacular individual skill and brilliant tactical football, these two ties are far from over.  In reality, all four teams will have a reason to think the tie is theirs to win come next week.


Tuesday saw Inter Milan do what no one seems to have been able to do lately and that is to stop the outright onslaught that is FC Barcelona.  For all the self-love that exudes from Jose Mourinho and all the press he gets (good and bad) we sometimes forget that he is a brilliant tactician and manager. His strategy Tuesday at the San Siro, frustrated and slowed the impossibly quick defending champions to a normal pace.  He forced them to play football, which is something few understand as well as he does.  Pep Guardiola likes to let his team run and once they find their stride, they will run you into the ground and have you playing from behind.

Arsene Wenger saw this in the quarterfinals when in the first 20 minutes of the first leg. His Arsenal side could have been well and truly out of the tie. Fortune and the fact that Arsenal is a fast and free team also, helped save them and challenge Barcelona at their own game.  It didn’t work at the end of the day, as no team in the world right now is as good as Barcelona at that style.

It looked as if we were in for more of the same on Tuesday when Pedro scored for Barca inside of the 20 minute mark. Pedro has scored a goal in six (yes, that’s right… SIX) different competitions this season for Barcelona, and the goal Tuesday was his 20th of this, his first season.

Wesley Sniedjer equalized for Inter 10 minutes later and suddenly Barcelona slowed down a bit to settle into a football match.  That was a mistake

Inter continued to try and slow down Barcelona.  Ball possession, ball control and some fortune from the referees helped The Special One’s side regain a firm footing in the match, and eventually when the teams were both playing the same game, Inter took over.

Maicon’s Second Half goal was set up by the hard working Diego Milito and then Milito himself scored. the Argentine being the beneficiary of a blown offsides call.

Too late, Barcelona started attempting to ratchet up the pressure to counter the 3-1 scoreline, but Inter held fast against seemingly overwhelming Barca pressure. The score line became a result and Inter had claimed a famous victory, but was it enough to secure the tie

Barca are surely capable of outscoring anyone at the Camp Nou, so will Pep Guardiola  unleash the hounds?  Send everyone forward and try to get the goals back in front of their rabid fans? Perhaps Barca will sacrifice some of their offensive prowess in lieu of keeping Inter off the score sheet and thereby keeping the vital away goal out of Jose Mourinho’s reach.

Regardless, everything is left to play for next Wednesday in Barcelona.

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