Tuesday, 9 December 2008

"Barcelona B" Not Enough Againts Shaktar...

Barcelona came into tonight's game in the best form they have seen for over two years, with many already eulogizing that this side is as good as or even better than the one that obtained a Primera Division-Champions League double in 2006.

Barcelona Embarrassed By Shakhtar But Still Finish Top
However, in what was a dead-rubber game in Group C this evening, an under-strength Blaugrana side were embarrassed by visiting Shakhtar, who themselves had nothing other than pride to play for, too, as they finished third in the group.

A half-empty stadium and a Barca line-up missing eight first-team regulars made for something of a flat atmosphere at the Camp Nou this evening, as Barcelona started comfortably enough and looked confident as they passed the ball around nicely in the cold Catalan evening.

They struggled to find the incisiveness that has characterised their season so far however, and, after an intitial perod of trying to find their way through the well-drilled Ukrainian defence, found themselves the victims of a sucker punch.

Olexandr Gladkiy, ploughing a line furrow for Shakhtar up front, struck to send them into a shock lead. After enjoying a brief spell of pressure, Razvan Rat sent the ball down the Donetsk left for Willian to knock the ball in to the striker's path for him to finish confidently.

The latter part of the first half was a much more even affair as Shakhtar played a more active part in proceedings following their goal. Aliaksandr Helb sparkled in patches for the Catalans, but they remained unable to find an equaliser before the interval.

After the break, Barca once again enjoyed the bulk of the possession but were still struglling to find a way to turn that possesion into meaningful reward. Although Pedro flickered briefly, the Blaugrana struggled for fluidity and shape.

On 56 minutes it began to look as though Guardiola's decision to rest the bulk of his first-choice players might end up looking like an embarrassing mistake. Gladkiy netted again, nodding home a Jadson cross from the left.

Almost immediately though, Barcelona struck back. Just a minute after Gladkiy's second, defender Sylvinho charged forward and slammed a powerful shot inside goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov's near post.

That sparked a renewd spirit amongst the hosts, and Pyatov found himself called into action with increasing frequency, keeping out efforts from Bojn Krkic and Victor Vazquez.

Barca continued to press for an equaliser until the 74th minute when Shakhtar scored again to make the game safe. After a period of soaking up the Catalans' pressure, Donetsk attacked with Razvan Rat prominent again.

The Romanian played a neat ball across the face of the Barca goal and Fernanadinho slid in to score and put the Ukrainians into an unbeatable lead.

Barcelona then struggled to claw their way back into things, but not even the introduction of Eidur Gudjohnsen could help them find a way through as Shakhtar stubbornly clung onto their lead until the 82nd minute.

Gudjohnsen then managed to thread through ball into the path of Sergi Busquets who scored what turned out to be merely a consolation effort for the Blaugrana whose 20 match unbeaten run was brought to an end on the final whistle.

Not an ideal warm-up then for the weekend visit of Real Madrid to the Camp Nou, though the first choice players will undoubtedly return for that.

A historic evening for Shakhtar Donetsk though, who were able to claim a major European scalp, even if it was in a 'dead rubber'.

Barcelona Embarrassed By Shakhtar But Still Finish Top

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