60,000 of us believed the hype that Barcelona were coming to town, in truth, most of us only witnessed Barcelona’s youth team in action.
Despite the disappointment of only seeing Yaya Toure, Abidal, Gudjohnson and Bojan in the starting eleven, you could have been fooled that you were witnessing the real Barca. They showed composure, technique and a willingness to play attractive football, whilst Spurs got sucked in by their reputation and our defensive injury concerns by playing a negative 4-5-1.!
Poor old Defoe ran around like a headless chicken up top whilst Corluka & Huddlestone pumped aimless long balls at the 5ft target man! Despite his gallant efforts, not surprisingly Defoe found himself isolated on his own.
The main entertainment of the 1st half was provided by the remaining Celtic supporters who booed former Rangers defender Alan Hutton’s every touch. The Spurs fans also grew extremely frustrated by referee Mark Halsey who could easily have been mistaken for a G**ner or Chelski fan as numerous decisions went against us.
The only goal of the half came from a powerful run from Toure who beat skipped past numerous half hearted tackles before the ball found its way to Bojan who made no mistake from close range. It was thoroughly deserved.
Spurs did manage their one and only attack late on as Modric drilled a shot onto the bar before the rebound found its way to Assou-Ekotto who drilled his volley into the ground, only to see the Barca keeper tip it over the bar.
A much needed half-time beer for me and 4 changes from Harry (Keane, Gomes, Chimbonda & new signing Naughton) did result in a different Spurs. Our best attacking move saw Huddlestone (now in midfield) switch the play to Lennon who beat his man and deliver a dangerous cross. The Barca keeper eventually scrambled across his line and snuffed out the danger.
I concentrated my next few moments on our new Â£7 million right back (if you believe the papers valuation) and witnessed some quick movement and decent positional play.
As the 60th minute rolled past, Harry brought on youngsters Rose, Bostock and Livermore and their enthusiasm ignited our more experienced players. A short corner from Modric found Assou-Ekotto in space who whipped in a dangerous cross. Substitute Livermore found himself deep in the Barca penalty box and his brave header saw him head the ball into an empty net whilst the Barca keeper flapped at thin air. The Spurs faithful who had sung all game were finally rewarded and Livermore celebrated his new contract with a well earned goal.
The last few moments saw Spurs further reduce their average age with the introduction of Dervite, but the sting had gone out of the game.
1-1 was probably fair, but the Barca squad left a bitter taste in our mouths, especially given the news that they are likely to play the superstars against Egyptian side Al-Ahly who’d early been thrashed 5-0 by Celtic. The crowd were also teased by glimpses of Messi on the big screen, who sat out the game on the Barca bench, whilst Guardiola sported a jumper and jeans!
….at least Celtic look like taking this tournament seriously, as did their loyal support who consumed numerous pints in the nearby pubs!
By Steve Perry
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