He was absolutely spot on.
Just like he did at Stamford Bridge when he stunned Chelsea and Carlo Ancelotti with an ultra attacking 4-2-1-3, Mourinho kept the media and Pep Guardiola guessing in the days leading up to the match before settling with the one formation no one had predicted – a 4-2-3-1.
While Barcelona had a whopping 68 per cent of possession, there can be no denying that, barring the last 15 minutes when they laid siege on Inter’s area in search of a second away goal, the Blaugrana were truly rattled by their opponents for possibly the first time since Guardiola took charge in the summer of 2008.
Mourinho got his tactics spot on. Inter allowed Barca the ball where they couldn’t be hurt, before picking the right opportunities to press like vultures and launch lightning-fast counter attacks. It was a perfect ‘team’ display by the Nerazzurri. Not one individual stood out for them, yet collectively they executed their master’s gameplan to perfection.
As Goal.com’s KS Leong argues in our other Champions League Comment tonight, Inter were certainly aided by some truly horrific Barcelona defending. Dani Alves is lauded as the second best right-back in the world, yet he can’t defend for his life – perhaps proof of how weak full-backs are in modern football. Guardiola should also be blamed for his obsession with Sergio Busquets, who offered no protection in midfield and should have been subbed at half-time for Yaya Toure. Xavi was Barcelona's only player to play at his true level.
For once in Europe, the rub of the green actually favoured an Italian side. Diego Milito was offside for the third goal, while two strong Barcelona penalty appeals were turned down in the last 10 minutes. Although Inter could also point to a Diego Milito one-on-one at 0-0 that was incorrectly called back for offside.
One other point to make tonight revolves around Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was truly dreadful. Granted, the Swede scored twice against Arsenal’s Dumb and Dumber in London in the last round (after missing three sitters), but he did his reputation as a big-match European flop no good tonight. The Swede’s movement up-front was abysmal, and Barca only started carving up Inter when he was replaced. Samuel Eto’o may have not set San Siro on fire, but at least he worked for the team and contributed to his side's success.
This tie is by no means over. Barcelona at Camp Nou can overturn any scoreline, but Inter fans can now really start dreaming of a first Champions League success in 45 years. Especially with the genius that is Mourinho on their bench.
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