Posted on Thursday, 25th October 2012 by Stat Doctor
In the aftermath of a gut wrenching injury time goal which, sees your club denied one of it’s most unexpected results in their recent history it’s easy to look at the performance in a rose tinted manner and not for what it really was.
We almost got a draw against what is widely accepted as the greatest club side ever. Our performance was full of courage and discipline. I don’t think we deserved the draw but I have never witnessed a game involving Barca that I haven’t thought that they had deserved to win. They have so much of the ball and create so much that it’s a natural train of thought.
I think we could have been better when we had the ball. Again that’s a criticism I always have off us in Europe against better teams. While a draw would have been welcomed I’m not daft enough to feel a sense of injustice or believe that we were hard done by. Our game plan worked to a point. It failed in other areas.
So, while it was a soul destroying end it was an expected defeat and only the margin of defeat was surprising. The manner and flow of the game wasn’t and this is where I find comments from Bernd Schuster a little annoying.
Celtic were facing a modern day phenomenon. A beast that has only been stopped twice in the last four seasons in the Champions League by performances that have been described as ‘parking the bus’ and a ‘defensive master class’.
Barca this season in the Champions League average 761 completed passes per game and 75% possession. Last season they averaged 827 completed passes per game and 68% possession. The stats point that they dominate anyone that they play.
Against Celtic they attempted a staggering 996 passes and had 74% possession. Against Leverkusan last season – a game that they won 7-1 – they attempted 988 passes. In light of this you have to admit we saw extremely little of the ball and our pitiful 337 attempted passes sums up our lack of ball time.
Surprised at this?
Chelsea, who are the current champions of Europe, had 72% possession against in both semi final ties last season. In the home leg they only managed 4 shots on goal, which was the same number as we had the other night. When Inter Milan stopped Barca in the Nou Camp they had 76% possession against and only had 1 shot at goal. When Jose last visited the Nou Camp with his current employers he slightly improved and only lost 70% possession.
They did park the bus though. So, the last final Barca played against Man United? A nice 63% possession and United only managed 3 shots on goal.
Being dominated by Barca is a common occurrence. Even teams with a turnover of 479.5m (Real), £367m (Man U) 249.8m (Chelsea) & 211.4m (Inter) struggle against a team whose turnover 450.7m. How can our little team, turnover £51.34m be expected to be anything else other than plucky? Inter and Chelsea choose to play the way they did even with their vast resources.
Us? We had little choice but our team selection and game plan wasn’t to park the bus. We would have loved to get out and play a bit. We just arnt good enough at that level to do it.
Schuster says we shouldn’t be in the Champions League. With 13 shots on target, 1 more than Arsenal (turnover 251m) and with 4 points I beg to differ.