Updated: 11 April 2013 05:30 | By Lee Harvey, xinmsn Sports & AFP
PHOTOS: Barcelona squeeze past PSG, Bayern Munich too good for Juventus

Second-half Pedro strike rescues the Catalans' Champions League campaign on away goals, while Bayern achieve another classy win



In pictures: Barcelona 1-1 PSG (© Jasper Juinen-Getty Images)
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  • In pictures: Barcelona 1-1 PSG (© Jasper Juinen-Getty Images)
  • Lionel Messi takes his place on the Barcelona bench prior to kickoff (© REUTERS-Albert Gea)
  • Dani Alves closes down Zlatan Ibrahimovic (© David Ramos-Getty Images)
  • Andres Iniesta twists his way past Maxwell (© Jasper Juinen-Getty Images)
  • Ibrahimovic rises over Dani Alves to head a chance goalwards (© David Ramos-Getty Images)
  • Javier Pastore fires PSG in front on 50 minutes (© Jasper Juinen-Getty Images)
  • Pastore celebrates with team-mate Lavezzi (© Shaun Botterill-Getty Images)
  • Pedro restores parity on the night and puts Barca ahead in the tie (© Jasper Juinen-Getty Images)
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Barcelona advanced to the semi-finals of the Champions League for the sixth consecutive year after battling back to draw 1-1 with Paris Saint Germain at the Camp Nou.

Javier Pastore gave the visitors the lead early in the second half but Pedro cancelled the goal out with 20 minutes remaining, helped by the appearance of Lionel Messi, who began the match on the substitutes' bench after injuring a hamstring in the first leg.

It meant Barcelona progressed on away goals after the tie finished 3-3 on aggregate.

The Catalans were far from their usual brilliant selves without Messi and met their match in a disciplined and intelligent PSG, who afforded them little space and caused a lot of problems on the counter attack.

Cesc Fabregas began in place of Messi while Adriano was chosen at centre-back, deputising for the injured Javier Mascherano and Carles Puyol.

Xavi almost gave the hosts the dream start from a 30-yard free-kick, but his effort went just inches wide of the near post.

PSG did not take long to have their first attempts on goal either.

A lively Ezequiel Lavezzi tested Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes after two minutes and then raced towards goal after getting the ball from an off-colour Sergio Busquets. He was stopped by Gerard Pique, who did exceptionally well to recover.

Iniesta tried an audacious lob from over 40 yards out as he saw Salvatore Sirigu off his line, but the ball sailed a couple of feet over the bar.

Lucas Moura then forced Valdes into a save, and a few moments later Lavezzi shot over the bar in a period of surprising superiority from the visitors, who were allowed a fair amount of possession of the ball and space.

Barca did not create another chance until 21 minutes, when Pedro forced a low save from Sirigu and the ball fell to the forward again, who hit the side netting.

Lavezzi then missed PSG's best chance of the half, forcing his way into the area but poking his shot straight at the legs of Valdes.

The goalkeeper had to be alert later on when Lucas headed the ball towards the top corner after a cross from the byline by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but the Catalan stopper tipped it away for a corner.

Barcelona's first-half performance was well below their usual high standards, and although they had 13 shots on goal, could only hit the target once.

The second period initially followed the script of the first half, with Barca controlling possession but creating little danger.

The difference was that once PSG created a chance of their own, they made it count.

Ibrahimovic played Pastore in with a wonderful ball to the left-hand side and the Argentine surged forward ahead of Barca's line of defence, controlled the ball and slotted into the net, the ball bouncing off Valdes on its way into the corner.

Dani Alves had a chance to equalise shortly after the goal, but blazed over the bar, and then Pastore could have doubled the lead, but scuffed his shot wide from close range after a pass from Ibrahimovic.

With Barca needing to score and looking unlikely to do so, they brought on the man who has scored 51 times for them in the Primera Division and in Europe this season.

Messi was brought on in place of Fabregas, while Adriano, on a yellow card and carrying a knock, was replaced by Marc Bartra.

The Argentine had an immediate impact on Barca's spirit and gave them an edge to their attack.

Sirigu had to dive low to stop an effort from Iniesta and the ball fell to Messi, who could not get his shot beyond the first defender in front of him.

Pastore then had a third effort, this time shooting just over the bar, before Barca pounced.

Messi created the danger on the edge of the area as he tried to play in David Villa. Instead the ball was scuffed only as far as Pedro, who lashed the ball into the top corner.

It was only Barca's third attempt on target but it was struck with such power that Sirigu was left with no chance.

The goal allowed Barca to relax and forced PSG to come at their opponents, when before they had been causing all their damage from the counter attack.

They struggled in this new role and Carlo Ancelotti brought on David Beckham with seven minutes remaining to add to their creativity.

Barca took off Villa for defensive midfielder Alex Song as they sought to hold on and progress to the final four.

Barca breathed a huge sigh of relief when the final whistle sounded as they celebrated becoming the first team to qualify for the semi-finals of the Champions League six times in a row.

They will, however, be praying that Messi will be at full fitness when they do contest the final four of the competition, because they were a shadow of their usual selves without him and only stopped themselves exiting the tournament when he appeared.

On Bing: more Champions League reaction

1Comment
Apr 11, 2013 2:35PM
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This year is Baca's last hurrah. They have failed to replace their aging stars either by wrong choice of purchasing or failing to get them to connect with their passing game. Furthermore they have no means of getting their former coach who has signed up for Bayern Munich. 

 

We will see the demise of Baca next year and also of the Spanish team as Germany will dominate them. This is the beauty of the Germans. They are never proud of getting the best to effect change even if they are riding high. Bayern are leading their league by a mile. They are also in the semis of the Europa Cup. But yet they go for a change of coach who will possibly lead them to a better game change.

 

In Singapore we have coaches who cannot coach a kindergarten team to win yet they want to be appointed national coaches. You do not need a coaching certificate to prove yourself in this field. The certificate is to prove you know basics of soccer  but coaching is a different ball game. At primary level you are teaching basics of  ball control, dribbling, kicking, passing, tackling, positioning, maintaining shape and positional play etc. 

 

By the national team level at possibly 18 or under the players should have at least 70% of their personal skills in their armoury.They are now ready for the team play skills.

 

This means learning to run into positions off the ball , creating space and putting the opposition off balance and on the defensive and making ball do the work with players simply creating space and new movements to offset the marking and composure of the opposition. Passing and other personal skills are now at a top level - absolutely precise to the exact feet and with correct speed and roll. This is where professionalism counts. It means hours of practice together and absolute knowledge of your players' idiosyncracies,  temperaments, weaknesses and strengths , to grow together as a team.

 

At national level it is possibly too late for players to improve personal ball skills.  They have to learn  

team play, strategies and counter strategies. They must learn to move into positions to create space and outfox opposition, Speed onto the ball, speed off the ball, and speed of play all must improve to a level that other teams can only gasp with admiration. They must know what they are doing and aware of their positions at every turn.

 

 

 

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