So did the referee screw Arsenal? Well yes, and no. The second yellow card to Robin Van Persie wouldn’t have been called if it was in the Emirates. That’s home advantage for you. Maybe he just wanted the Arsenal players to stop with their delusions – With 11 men they still thought they had a chance. With 10, they would have to refrain from trying to attack. Maybe he wanted Arsenal to pull an “Inter” and survive the Nou Camp onslaught with just 10 players. Manuel Almunia made some fantastic one on one saves but eventually succumbed to the attacking waves of Barcelona players.
I know Barcelona, this Barcelona side at least, gets a sickening amount of affection and adoration from fans and pundits across the globe that didn’t really care for the team in the two years they missed out on the title or the pre-Ronaldinho years. Still, when Arsenal, supposedly equipped to beat Barcelona at their own game, finish the 90 minutes without shooting once at Valdes’ goal, enjoying a fluke own goal and most of the time unable to get out of their own half and their best player pulls off a no show (Cesc Fabregas) I can’t help but feel glad the better team won.
Arsenal weren’t equipped to defend at the Nou Camp but are just not good enough to play with Barcelona, especially on their own ground. The Swiss ref wanted to get rid of Van Persie in the first half already, I’m pretty sure of it. He just waited for a line the Dutchman would give him. Still, the referee didn’t give Barcelona the win. They fully deserved a much higher scoreline than the 3-1 the lights showed at the end.
As for Guardiola’s team, the fingers get tired of knocking on those same letter. M E S S I, I N I E S T A… you get my drift. The constant pressure 20 meters from the Arsenal goal led to all three goals. Having a team like Arsenal, too proud of their way to knock balls away when under pressure, only made it easier. Manuel Almunia came from the bench-grave to show he still has a few tricks under his sleeves. Too bad there was not one teammate he could count on to pull a few tricks of his own.