Monday, April 05, 2010

Champions League in Mérida

After travelling for a day from Caracas by land, I arreived to the city of Mérida in the Venezuelan Andes last Wednesday. As I was set to go to the mountains the following day I had a full day in this cozy city, where my mission was clear: find a place to watch the CL quarterfinal between Arsenal and FC Barcelona. It was not clear where, and I initially asked some people who said I could check out any place. However, I wanted to be sure, and when I saw a guy dressed in full Barcelona gear near the central Plaza Bolivar, I asked him, and he directed me to a small local bar, "La Cibeles".
Good place, with good atmosphere, plenty of people (all of whom were supporting Barcelona; Arsenal doesn't have much following here, and anyone who did, was mainly because they are Real Madrid supporters) and beer.
It was truly a spectacular match: Barcelona was incredible; the display of power in the first 15 minutes was overwhelming; true show of force in making a fool of a team that is supposedly one of the best in Europe. That it was 0-0 at half-time was more a miracle of the footballing gods who in the first half were wearing an Arsenal shirt and had blessed Arsenal goalkeeper Almunia, who had some spectacular saves.
Early in the second half FC Barcelona finally went ahead on a nice lob by the highly criticised Zlatan Ibrahimovic. I personally believe he still has a lot to show, and that he still doesn't completely fit into the Barca team. However, his quality is undisputable, and he soon after also made it 0-2 for the Catalonians.
Arsene Wenger put on the young Englishman Theo Walcott (only Englishman on the team) and it was fitting that he soon after scored one for Arsenal. Barcelona should here be criticised for having let Arsenal back into the match, but the English team must also be commended for continuing the fight being down 0-2. That is how they showed they are a great team.
And towards the end of the match they managed to equalize when Carles Puyol committed a clumsy penalty, and the young former Barcelona starlett Cec Fábregas scored on the penalty. Puyol got a harsh red card, and he will surely be missed in Barcelona for the next match, although Fábregas will also be out for Arsenal because of 2 red cards.
The splendid match ended 2-2, and the Barcelona fans in "La Cibeles" were somewhat disappointed, although it should be considered a good result before they play in Barcelona next week. I was happy for having watched a splendid football match, and had another beer. It was a perfect way to start some days in the mountains, with such splendid football!

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