Thursday, April 27, 2006

Barcelona advanced to the Champions League Final

Barcelona and AC Milan tied 0-0 and the Spanish team advanced to the Final game in Paris against Arsenal. The Blaugrana side took the win over Milan with a measured celebration rather than unbridled euphoria. They want to accomplish higher objectives.

"We accomplished our goal in this match," was coach Rijkaard's statement on his side's achievement in qualifying for their first final in 12 years. "But this is not the end, we want to go to Paris and win the title."

In fact, Barcelona have never missed a European season in the 50 years since continental competition began. However, they have won the Champions League trophy only once.

"Our dreams are a step closer to become true" said striker Samuel Eto'o. "We had to suffer to get here but it will be nothing compared to the joy if we can win the final. We all want to get the victory and dedicate it to the fans."

The African striker is convinced that past disappointments, such as last season's elimination by Chelsea in the first knockout round, have given the side a harder edge that has enabled them to beat the English champions and Milan this time round.

"We learned last year that we have to know how to defend a result and that's what we have done. We've learned how to struggle to achieve what we want."

Even though hos team dominated for long periods of the game against Milan on Wednesday, they certainly had to sweat it out to beat the Italian side.

Eto'o and Henrik Larsson were denied what looked like certain goals by some top-class saves from Brazilian goalkeeper Dida, while defender Juliano Belletti spurned a gilt-edged chance with an air-shot when the goal was at his mercy.

We must consider that Milan looked to have forced the tie into extra time when Andriy Shevchenko headed home midway through the second half, just to see the goal ruled out for an apparent foul on centre back Carles Puyol.

But Barca kept their heads and managed to become only the second side to beat Milan in the semi-finals since the European Cup began 50 years ago.

The final match will be an oppostunity to see the two most talented players of the World face to face: Ronaldinho and Thierry Henry.

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