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The Road To Rome: How Barcelona Reached The Final

From the 3-1 win against Sporting Lisbon at the Camp Nou on September 16, to the dramatic 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and Andres Iniesta's last minute goal, Barcelona has travelled on a long, and highly entertaining 'Road to Rome.'

After 1,080 minutes of football that bore the unique seal of Pep Guardiola's Barcelona team, Goal.com's team of international experts reviewed the Blaugrana's campaign, round by round:

GROUP STAGE

The Runaway Leader (by Juan Lirman - Goal.com España):

Review Of The Group: Barcelona won their group with ease. The 3-1 win in the first game against Sporting Lisbon at the Camp Nou put them on top, and they would never relinquish that position. Two more victories followed, a dramatic 2-1 win at Shakhtar Donetsk, and a 5-0 thrashing of FC Basel in Switzerland, leaving Barcelona one step away from qualification. They confirmed this with a 1-1 draw against Basel at the Camp Nou on Matchday Four. The 5-2 win over Sporting in the next game sealed first position, meaning the 3-2 loss to Shakhtar in the final match was purely academic, as Guardiola fielded a team full of reserves. Barcelona had already completed their objective long beforehand. 


Lethal | Messi only needed 30 minutes to score a double in Donetsk, and hand Barca the win.

Key Moment: After the comfortable 3-1 home win against Sporting, Barcelona faced a trip to Donetsk that would prove decisive in their campaign. They had only won one point out of the first six in the league, and when Ilsinho put Shakhtar ahead on 45 minutes, panic spread through the ranks. But then Pep Guardiola introduced Lionel Messi, who, to most people's surprise, had started on the bench. In barely half an hour, the Argentine had destroyed Shakhtar with a double. He equalised on 87 minutes after a fatal error from Pyatov, before executing a sublime chip on 94 minutes to give Barca a dramatic win at the death. Barcelona had assumed control of Group C

Round of 16:

Birth of the 'Dream Team' (by Alexandre Walraevens):

Overview of the round: Barcelona faced Lyon in the last 16. Prior to the match, Karim Benzema stated that he was confident that Lyon would win. In the first leg (1-1 at Stade Gerland), Lyon played a great first half and dominated the Blaugrana, but physically they could not keep up the rhythm and finally Barcelona drew 1-1 after yet another vital goal from Thierry Henry. Any chance Lyon had was lost in the first leg, after they missed some great chances. The second leg at the Camp Nou was an entirely different affair. Lyon's defense was disastrous and I can barely remember them touching the ball in the first half, when they found themselves 4-0 down. Two second half goals were merely academic, as Barca romped home 4-2 winners. In France, we saw the difference in quality between the best team, Barcelona, and a Lyon side that did not deserve to advance. It was the poorest Lyon team I've seen for at least the last 5 years, and the best Barca side I have seen for a decade.


Equalizer in Lyon | Thierry Henry scored three goals against his compatriots, beginning with the equalizer in Lyon.

Key moment: Who was the key player? HENRY ! He scored the crucial equalizer in the first leg, giving Barca a vital away goal. Then he settled the tie with two goals at the Camp Nou. Another great performance from Henry against French teams!

Quarter Final:

Barcelona Destorys Bayern (by Thomas Bauer, Goal.com Germany):

Overview of the round: The Barcelona fans were quite nervous before the clash against Bayern Munich. The Germans should never be underestimated but the result in the Camp Nou showed the difference in class between both teams this season. Barcelona won the first leg 4-0 and qualified for the semi-finals with a 1-1 draw in the second leg. A great show from the Catalans, who surprised all of  Europe with this result.
 


On Another Level | Messi scores the fourth, and Bayern hardly touched the ball at the Camp Nou.

Key Moment: Udo Lattek, who coached Bayern and Barcelona in the 80’s, watched the match at the Camp Nou and had tears in his eyes at half time. It was a very emotional moment, that underlined Bayern Munich's situation. In an interview he told the press that he was not embarrassed to be crying. He hadn’t been that angry and sad for decades.

Semi Finals:

Hening Ovrebo, the unexpected protagonist (by Ewan Macdonald, Goal.com International):

Overview of the round: The semi-final between Barcelona and Chelsea will forever be remembered for the refereeing performance of Tom Henning Ovrebo, who - according to Chelsea fans - denied them their justified place in the final or - according to Barcelona fans - had a bit of a shocker. After the 0-0 first leg at Camp Nou, the Norwegian took to the pitch in London and continued to dominate the evening with a host of questionable decisions. What a shame that the match's two great goals - one a volley from Michael Essien and the other a pile-driver from Andres Iniesta - were forgotten in the melee.


The Seal of 'VV' | Not Iniesta, not Ovrebo. They key man against Chelsea was Victor Valdes. His double save against Didier Drogba made all the difference.

Key Moment: It would be easy to say Andres Iniesta's last-gasp tie-winner at Stamford Bridge, but perhaps the key moment came much earlier. Minutes into the first leg, Didier Drogba was through on goal and ready to score, only for Victor Valdes to pull off an excellent double-save. Had the Ivorian netted that early on at Camp Nou, the encounter could have ended in a rout - instead, Vic's save gave Barcelona the belief that they needed to prevail.