The 2010 Barcelona team was wrecking havoc in all their games, mesmerizing displays and too many goals with the tactics of the one and only Pep Guardiola and the sorcery of their wizard Lionel Messi …. But in that game, against all expectations Inter Milan Caged Barcelona and won the game 3-1 which led them to the memorable tripleta that year under the guidance of the Special one José Mourinho.
In that game, as Mourinho stated over and over in his interviews had only one problem ( saying it like this way makes it look easy ) ; How to mark a genius like Lionel Messi that moves everywhere on the pitch without exposing the defence for the other 10 extraordinary players that Barcelona had at that time ?
Before going any further you can get to know more about the formations and systems used in this game here
The starting 10
Mourinho started the game with a 4-2-3-1 formation using his most performing players at that time : Julio Cesar , Zanetti , Samuel, Lucio, Maicon, Motta, Cambiasso, Pandev, Sneider, Eto’o and Milito
Guardiola on the other hand with started with his infamous 4-3-3 formation using : Valdés, Alves, Puyol, Piqué, Maxwell, Busquets, Xavi, Keita, Messi, Pedro and Ibrahimovic
Who is marking whom ?
For this game Mourinho knew that he was going to suffer and he prepared his team for the fact that they won’t probably touch the ball for long periods of times.
So he had two instructions for his team and that based on whether they have the ball or they are pressing for the ball
Stopping Barcelona’s attacks
To do so, The special one opted for a zonal marking and not a man to man marking strategy
Basically, The Barcelona player becomes the defender’s responsibility when he enters his zone of the field, And with this in mind we had great duels like Messi vs Zanetti , Pandev vs Alves and Maicon vs Pedro.
This strategy is great with the qualities of the inter squad, but they had Messi in front of them and he is not someone that sits on his wing and repeats efforts he rather cut to the inside, move to the box and get back to the midfield. And to counter him Motta, Zanetti and Pandev had to communicate a lot between them during the game.
A scenario that repeated itself during that game, and showed how Mourinho built his cage for the wizard of Barcelona, is that Zanetti follows Messi when he cuts inside until he gets to Motta’s zone where he becomes the later’s problem and in the meantime Pandev make the effort to mark Dani alves that loves to attack and is very dangerous in the last third of the field.
Now Inter has the ball
Mourinho said when we get the ball we hit them hard and we hit them fast, And he did scoring 3 goals after being down 1-0 is no easy feat against the Blaugrana.
Using the speed of the front three and their qualities with the ball, Whenever Inter got the ball they send it behind maxwell and alves‘s Backs where Eto’o and and Milito would drive the ball and conserve it for the teammates that were following the play.
The second goal emphasizes that strategy, Barcelona looses the ball and quickly it is passed to Milito behind Maxwell‘s back, and then he gets to the box where a rocket named Maicon comes speeding from inter’s Penalty box to score the goal .
We enjoyed that game
The game ended with Inter’s win 3-1, but it doesn’t mean they dominated the game Barcelona could’ve scored many goals but luck and The Italian’s Grinta in defending their territory was outstanding .
At the end Mourinho saw through Guardiola’s system in that game and used it’s problems to his advantage.
A 1-0 win for Barcelona at the Camp Nou wasn’t enough for them to advance to the Champions League Finals.