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Thursday, 17 February 2011

The Lamentation of Lio Messi (Arsenal v. Barcelona)


Barcelona striker Lionel Messi expresses his frustration during Barcelona's 2-1 defeat by Arsenal in the first leg of their Champions League tie, Emirates Stadium, London, 16 February 2011: photo by Eloy Alonso / Reuters

Lionel Messi during preparations for the match against Arsenal at the Emirates: photo by wonker

Barcelona players celebrate David Villa's opening goal against Arsenal at the Emirates: photo by wonker

Espeso 8 Messi se resbala ayer en Londres ante Koscielny, el central del Arsenal. JORDI COTRINA

Messi goes to ground before Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny
: photo by Jordi Cotrina / Reuters

Van Persie conecta, en presencia de Piqué, el remate que le dio el primer gol al cuadro londinense. REUTERS / eddie keogh

Robin van Persie rounds Barcelona defender Gerard Piqué to drive home Arsenal's equalizer
: photo by Eddie Keogh / Reuters

Arsenal hunde a poderoso Barcelona en el final del partido

Robin van Persie celebrates his equalizing goal with Gael Clichy: photo by Reuters

El Barça perdona y el Arsenal remonta

Arsenal's Andrei Arshavin celebrates his winner with Nicklas Bendtner: photo by Reuters

Striker Robin van Persie acknowledges the home support after Arsenal's surprising victory
: photo by wonker

Defeated Barcelona players depart the pitch: photo by wonker

Arsenal hunde a poderoso Barcelona en el final del partido

The lamentation of Lio Messi: photo by Eddie Keogh/ Reuters

They are the best side in football's history, in my opinion -- Cesc Fabregas of Arsenal, speaking of the visiting opponents, after his side's 2-1 victory over Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League tie, Emirates Stadium, London, 16 February, 2011


manik sharma said...

this is the actual el classico..the two best footballing sides in the world was an amazing see jack wilshere for his age turn heads ,head of the likes of xavi and iniesta....was astounding....people are complaining this contest is worth a final or atleast a semi-final...the contest between pure football...arsenal played beyond themselves at times...although the prospect now of a hammering at the nou camp looms large...whatever the result i think both these teams glorify what football is all about....and england have hope in mr wilshere...

John B-R said...

It was a great game. Guardiola said going in that he was afraid van Persie would make the difference.

While I love Barca, I also I really like the way Arsenal does business. If I understand correctly, Barca's in a world of debt and will probably have to let Iniesta go at the end of this year. Arsenal, is much more solvent than the other big clubs.

Anyhow, thanks for the pics. Lio's looking all grown up ...

TC said...


Yes, Wilshere was brilliant, belying his youth. So much has been said about Barcelona's uncanny instant ability to think and operate effectively in tight-spaces and micro-openings, but the lad from Stevenage seemed almost able to "read" the movements of Iniesta and Xavi in advance, and disrupt them; something which no one on earth had previously thought humanly possible. And the dramatic quality of Arshavin's winner should not cause us to forget the wonderful sequence with which the goal began, Wilshere's seeing-eye pass from deep midfield picking out Fabregas to set up the lightning service on then to Nasri and finally to the Russian for perfect conversion. It was very beautiful to watch and all the more so because it was work and skill of a quality one would have expected of the opposing side.


Lio is looking more and more grown up, indeed. We are reminded that with experience comes understanding, even sometimes sadness, even to those few gifted with an uncommon capacity to create joy. (And too it looked to me as though one effective way of neutralizing a genius is to keep the ball off his left foot.)

But of course, all this is still far from over, and there always remains the strong possibility of a last laugh at Camp Nou.

Michael Peverett said...

I thought it was great too. I am still in a sort of "I don't really mind who wins" benevolent trance, but maybe that's an illusion of first legs, especially ones where your own team score two late goals.

TC said...

Michael, I would share your sentiments re. the benevolent trance, which will be wonderful to enjoy... for a few weeks, anyway.

I thought there were lovely moments in the interview with Fabregas and van Persie after the match, the two falling all over one another in their seeming competition to speak respectfully of Barcelona, and modestly of their own achievement.

Curiously, neither was able to stop coughing throughout the interview, for some reason.

(Surely it can't have been all that deference in the air?)

manik sharma said...

and that only reiterates the importance of good defensive performances....kochielny for arsenal and abidal for barcelona....the scores could have been a lot more.....and valdez getting beaten at his near post like that crucial time...really hurt them...and most ironically it was arshavin with almost his first meaningful touch of the game really...who has been recently criticized for his finish with such calmness...arsenal beat barcelona at their own game and arsene wenger and what he stands for despite criticism has been salvaged to some point...but i think the toughest task still awaits....something that even the special one(mourinhio) and his extra-specially priced team also could not complete.....

TC said...

To tell you the truth, Manik, I felt Arshavin's entry into the match changed it. Instant electricity.

Actually his first meaningful touch was a wicked arrowing corner that had danger written all over it.

It came to nothing, but in that moment one could, for the first time, almost feel the crackling charge of the Possible.

At that moment, Wenger unzipped his anorak and became suddenly a great deal more animated.

As if to say, game on.

And of course, then, it was.

This is not to gloss over Arshavin's late and nearly-disastrous defensive error, but as things turned out, he was spared blushes on that embarrassment -- and one felt for him. Defense anyway was never his forte.

But as you say, Manik, there were others in the side who stepped up bravely enough, in that department.