Not quite there yet, Jose…
First and foremost, we have to congratulate Internazionale for notching an ultra-impressive 3-1 victory against arguably the very best team in the world at the moment. Inter have just achieved something unachievable. How all the mighty have fallen trying to douse Barcelona’s angelic shine, spearheaded by the brightest light of all, Leo Messi, one who is according to the one with “the Hand of God” himself is capable of having a kickabout with Jesus Himself! All right, I know about how Barcelona was affected by the eruption of the Erjahshdsddhd (pardon my very limited Icelandic) volcano and thus they had to trudge all the way to Milan by a bus. All of us know how tiring a long bus ride could be. Even in a world class bus (which I believe Barcelona players were in), a long journey from Barcelona to Milan by bus is not something we would associate with the word “Fun”, despite some who might argue about how beautiful the European scenery being enjoyed by the Barcelona world beaters on the way to Milan.
In any case, to be fair to Jose Mourinho and his boys, we must not take anything away from them, let alone downplaying their marvelous achievement against the team which would represent planet Earth (or at least 2/3 of the players) if Mars United decides to issue a “Friendly” match challenge to our blue planet. A 3-1 victory against Barcelona is a great achievement! However, after the match has ended, the celebrations among Interistas (although the players weren’t included unfortunately) have been concluded, we have to do some reality check, and we have to practise some realism here.
Yes, on a one game basis, Inter’s victory last night was arguably a great victory. But the Champions League semi final is unfortunately not a one off match. The whole tie consists of two legs of matches. Furthermore, Inter’s victory was in San Siro, not Nou Camp. Had it been in the latter venue, this article would be redundant and perhaps replaced by lavish, effusive praises on the Special One.
Thus, Inter is not in the Champions League final yet. This is just like trying to invade the Spanish Capital by the sea. Inter has reached Barcelona, and before Inter wants to conquer Madrid (the final), it has to go through the staunch Spanish resistance in Barcelona. (not that it might happen in real invasion, I mean, Catalunya staunchingly defending Madrid, but that’s another debate altogether). Furthermore, Barcelona has scored an all important away goal in San Siro, which would prove crucial in the second leg.
The next leg will be played in Camp Nou, a very dangerous venue in which any team in the world would expect to get pummelled, and the objective in this venue is always “Damage Control” rather than an all out offensive meant to destroy. To illustrate how scary Nou Camp is, and also to illustrate the mood of Inter’s players and Mourinho himself, imagine yourself playing the famous Football Manager game controlling any team except for Barcelona itself of course. You open the fixtures tab in the game, and the next match is against Barcelona at Camp Nou. I could imagine how the sheer letter “A” in the venue tab as well as the name Camp Nou itself would send a chill down the spine of even a seasoned FMer.
Indeed, this is the venue to be feared by everyone. It would be a horrible mistake for Inter to rest their laurels by now, thinking that they are in the final. I would expect Inter to be defeated by Barcelona in Camp Nou, and expect a rampant Barcelona scoring at least four goals against Inter at Camp Nou. If it is indeed happening, what Inter should do is that no matter what they have to score a goal. I believe Mourinho realizes this as he has experienced a similar scenario also against Barcelona when he knocked them out with Chelsea. A 4-2 defeat at Camp Nou will send Inter through and that’s a job done. That’s not to say that Mourinho should aim for that scoreline, but even if they are 4-0 down at half time, they should regroup at half time and score 2 goals, and I believe Mourinho’s winning mentality in the players, and the triumverate of Pandev, Milito, and Eto’o supported by W. Sneijder are more than good enough to compensate for the Godly attacks by Messi and co.
Expect a total war, and Inter fans perhaps have to thank Balotelli for his childish antics, as in my opinion, it is potentially beneficial for Inter. The celebration was halted, and that’s a good thing as it might have plugged any sources of complacency in the Inter squad and I would love to think that Balotelli has single handedly maintained the composure and hunger to win, and also preventing them from being drowned in a false celebration that they are through to the final.
In any case, and in a nutshell, the second leg at Nou Camp will be a match to anticipate for, and whatever the scoreline is, the 90 minutes will be a partcular time in which the whole footballing universe is completely stopped as the two sets of football warriors do battle in one of the world’s most amazing architecture!