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Champion's League: A reader’s reply

THIS article is in reply to what was said about the Champions Lague second leg tie between Chelsea and Barcelona by Osama Rahman. I was really shocked by the tone of his article and his naked display of abhorrence towards Barcelona. I couldn't really think of a reason why such an article was allowed to be published. So, I am expressing what I felt about the article.

He questioned whether it was a methodically carried out conspiracy that deprived him of a “classic” Manu VS Chelsea encounter

What does he mean by a classic encounter anyway? He made it sound like it would have been a privilege or something. Remember last years dull final? I don't like seeing teams waiting for the penalty shootouts. The premier league already provides this so called “classic” battle so I wouldn't worry about it.

Then Mr. Osama Rahman goes on to say “Barcelona enjoyed the wealth of possession but then again sometimes when teams have no idea how to penetrate, they hold onto the ball and pass it around for a miracle” !

That's the biggest joke I've heard about football ever! The comment is not so much an attack on the Barcelona as it is on football itself. Does he really think playing possession football is just a tactic? (Just like Chelsea had this tactic of keeping 10 men inside the box in the first leg and the majority of the 2nd leg!) Having a star-studded lineup at your disposal and being owned by a Russian oil billionaire won't make a team play like the way Barcelona plays. The club has made it their mission to stay true to their purist principles. Throughout their history they tried to play the beautiful game the way it needs to be played. For them, trophies are important but so are their principles. Playing pass and move football is I believe the only way to play positive and classy football.

Still, it's true that Barcelona didn't get through. It was probably down to Henry's injury and that two defensive midfielders Keita and Busquets had to be played. I believe that with tactics that Chelsea used almost entirely during the game it would have been impossible for even God to penetrate that defense. I will give credit to Chelsea for that. They seemed to stay loyal to their style of play and for 183 minutes it worked well.

Barca with 13 men on the pitch! 6 penalty claims 4 could be given

Well a team might as well have 10 penalty claims. What matters is how many of those claims are valid. I truly believe that two of the decisions could have been given, especially the one where Abidal tackled Drogba from behind.

The Pique handball could have been given a penalty in any day but did Osama Rahman consider Pique's attempt to let the ball go through to the keeper when the ball accidentally hit his hand? Also, there is such a thing as intentional and unintentional handball. The Eto'o incident was in no way a penalty. Eto'o turned his body to avoid the ball when and the ball hit his arm (rather the armpit). Malouda was in fact tackled outside the box so the ref had to give a free kick and keep in mind Toure was rushing in and would probably have gotten to the ball before Malouda. There was mutual body-check on each other when Malouda goes to ground in the box but contact was first made outside the box. A free kick was the logical choice. He fails to talk about the refereeing decisions that were questionable during the first leg.

He shouted about conspiracies and the fact that UEFA managed to thwart an inevitable all English final by some obvious and unethical ways. Why was then Eric Abidal sent off for a “Phantom” tackle?

I didn't see him writing an article when John Terry climbed up illegally over a Barcelona defender to score the decisive goal in the 2005 quarterfinal.

After the kind of football Chelsea played for 180 minutes did they really deserve a place in the final? Chelsea played a 10 men Barcelona for more then 25 minutes of the game. Over the two legs Barcelona was the better team. Barcelona was not lucky to have gotten through; they played like lions and deserved it. In any case Barcelona has a much better concept of football and doesn't really need to beat a team like Chelsea to prove that.

The article provided by Osama Rahman made it obvious that he has an affinity towards English football (maybe because it's the most televised league and thus more popular) but it's not clear how he mixed Barcelona in his conspiracy theory and was so spiteful in his comments about Barcelona. I felt that Mr. Osama Rahman had too much to write that week and didn't have a clue as to what he was writing.

Let me not remind anyone of what happened after the game. It was a disgrace. I don't intend to hurt anyone's feelings. Chelsea was badly hurt and it's painful for a supporter to watch something like that, given that Iniesta scored in the injury time. Chelsea fans have the right to feel hard done by and it's easy to blame the referee. We can all have a go at the referee but quite frankly the tone of Osama Rahman's review would have been less harsh if Chelsea had won the match. Its just football. So, don't turn this on Barcelona.

Rome is a beautiful city with a lot of history. The eternal city will provide the perfect backdrop for this historic battle. Best of luck to the two teams in the final, I hope football will be the victor.

By Abdullah Al Mehdi

Come on you Reds!

IT was magical. The sounds, the scenes and the overwhelming emotions all around Old Trafford, showed just what the draw meant to the Reds. Alex Ferguson had started his journey back in 1986, he stated that his mission was to 'knock Liverpool off its perch' and now his dreams are finally reaching near culmination. Manchester United now has equaled Liverpool's record of 18 Premier League titles. What is more remarkable is that this is their second EPL hat-trick. Yes, they have done it. The 18th title, which came in a fashion only possible by the Reds, full of bitter and sweet memories, but everlasting memories nonetheless.

The method by which they achieved this feat is more special than the feat itself. When the season started, Manchester United were fresh off a defeat to Zenit St. Petersburg and then there was a 2-1 defeat to Liverpool followed by a draw at Chelsea. Manchester United soon fell way behind Liverpool and the hectic schedule of Club World Cup didn't help things much as well.

With Cristiano Ronaldo failing to rediscover the form that brought him the Ballon d'or and the whole team yet to hit their peak, a third consecutive title felt like a distant-dream. Chelsea's goal-scoring vein and Liverpool's early dominance didn't help either. But post-Christmas, the whole scene began to change. 10 consecutive clean sheets and Van Der Sar's feat of going 1310 minutes without conceding a single goal, sent Manchester United back to the top.

United continued their resurgence but then March came and it was a trip to Craven Cottage that had the ability to bring back the Reds to Earth. Liverpool thrashed them 4-1 and then Fulham shocked them 2-0. Rooney and Scholes were suspended in that match and now the dreams of a title were starting to fade.

But that is when Macheda came about, with the lightning striking twice, scoring goals that seem so crucial right about now. Macheda's touches turned into gold as he ensured Manchester United got a seemingly unlikely 3 points from their encounters with Aston Villa and Sunderland, both.

And back United climbed and they never looked back. This was a title won in style, setting the script for a Greek tragedy only to avoid the fall and continue the rise. United showed mental strength, depth in squad, consistency and most important of all, a winning mentality. Sir Alex Ferguson has achieved every manager's dream, by assembling a squad with a rich mixture of youth and experience, combining extremely well. If things go as they should, Manchester United will be the only team in world to retain the Champion's League and go on to make the most memorable quadruple. A team with so much history and quality, certainly deserves to do so. We wish them all the best. And to all the Chelsea fans, next season for sure.

By Osama Rahman


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