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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

UCL - Schalke 0-1 Barcelona Aftermath

Slomka: We Showed Too Much Respect
Schalke trainer Mirko Slomka was left bemoaning the amount of respect his side showed their Spanish opponents, which has given the Königsblauen an uphill task in the second leg.

A first half strike from teenage sensation Bojan Krkic handed Barcelona a 1-0 win at the Veltins Arena in the first leg of the quarter final, which puts the Catalans in a the driving seat ahead of the second leg at the Nou Camp next week.
Schalke rallied in the second half but never had the cutting edge to find a way back into the game.
“When you play against Barcelona, you have to have respect” Slomka admitted. “But I never thought that we would show that much respect.
“In the second half we had a number of quality chances, which we were unfortunately unable to take.

“We warned the players against situations like the one that led to their opening goal. Manuel Neuer sadly didn’t hold the ball, but it was a whole series of errors which gifted them the goal.”
Striker Gerald Asamoah agreed with his trainer’s assessment but is still holding on to a glimmer of hope ahead of the second leg in Spain.
“We showed far too much respect in the first half” he admitted. “We should have put pressure on them from the start.
“Unfortunately it didn’t work out tonight with a goal for us. We were unlucky to lose, but still have hope for the return leg.
“If there wasn’t hope, there would be no point in going there” Asamoah added.

Pressure Made It Easier For Us - Rijkaard
Frank Rijkaard believes that all the controversy that surrounded Barcelona in the build-up to their game against Schalke helped the team's preparations.

The Blaugrana had come under increasing pressure after losing to Real Betis at the weekend, but bounced back by taking command of their Champions League tie.Even Rijkaard's future was doubted if Barça failed to win in the Arena AufSchalke on Tuesday and the coach thinks that all that only aided his side."It was a lot easier to prepare the team due to the noise that was being created," he explained."We went into the game with a great mentality. With all the noise from outside the dressing room it made things a lot easier. We all knew just how difficult things were."We still have a chance in the Spanish league too. We have shown that we had the capability to endure when the other team cmae forward."Bojan Krkic scored the only goal of the game in the 11th minute when he became the first player born in the 1990's to score in the competition and became the second youngest to ever score.Rijkaard was very impressed with the youngster and was not afraid to offer him a bit of praise after his matchwinner set the team up for the second leg in Camp Nou next week."He stands out because he does things that the great players do," he added.

It was a strange game, Barcelona were a little more 'anti-football' than we're used to seeing, a few dives and feigning injury as well as a little time-wasting.They were good value for their win, as they controlled proceedings on the most part in the midfield, but the deep-lying defence did their utmost to make it difficult and almost gift Schalke a way back into the game in the second half.Schalke for their part were desperately lacking inspiration and allowed themselves to be dominated by a Barcelona side that will have come into the game with a fair share of nerves.Schalke missed Jones and Rakitic in midfield for the steel and creativity, but as it is they slumped to a defeat and the advantage is all with Barcelona now.

Schalke 04

Neuer - 5: Could and should have done better with Thierry Henry's initial shot which rebounded back to the Frenchman and allowed him to set up the only goal of the game. Will be disappointed after it was his heroics who got his side to this stage.

Rafinha - 5.5: Another star player who was caught cold for the goal. Should have been tighter to Thierry Henry before he ran in behind. Struggled in the first half but became a little more confident and composed in the second.

Krstajic - 5: Struggled with Bojan and generally failed to be as imposing as he would have liked.

Bordon - 6: Did a decent job leading the backline, made a crucial intervention to stop Bojan adding a second. Could have scored an equaliser at the death.

Westermann - 6.5: Showed promise going up and down the left flank and kept Barcelona busy as much as he could, lacked end product to score any higher.

Kobiashvili - 5: Wasn't as involved as he could have been and will have wished he could have done more to break up Barcelona's endless spells of passing possession.

Ernst - 6: Did a little bit better than his defensive midfield partner to get his foot stuck in and made some good challenges, missed a great chance to level things up in the second period, but was influential box-to-box on the most part.

Asamoah - 5: Largely uninvolved wide on the right hand side, looked dangerous when running with the ball but was rarely given the opportunity. His poor touch let him down.

Altintop - 5: Lost possession one time too many when Schalke did go forward, but did a good job tracking back and helping out the midfield when he could.

Pander - 5: Disappointing set-piece deliveries in the first half, and the onus was on the German international to deliver in that regard considering it was Schalke's only genuine, consistent threat on Barcelona's goal. He improved in the second period and posed the occasional threat, but still needed to provide more when his side needed it.

Kuranyi - 5.5: An average showing. Did what he could with what came to him, made himself as much of a nuisance as possible. Maybe a little unlucky to be substituted quite early on, there wasn't a lot he could have done better

.Substitutes: Sanchez - 5, Larsen - 5, Lovenkrands - n/a.


Valdes - 6.5: Untroubled. Guilty of spilling a Pander effort but also tipped a decent header over the bar from close range.

Zambrotta - 5.5: Put in a solid showing at right back and dealt with almost everything that came his way. Could have maybe got forward a little more in the second half to keep Barcelona in control of the game, but was most likely under instructions to drop back.

Puyol - 6: Was put under little to no duress and dealt with everything that came his way with relative comfort.

Milito - 5.5: Like his partner, was solid without needing to be inspiring. Committed a few more careless fouls.

Abidal - 4.5: Uneasy just about every time he was involved in the game and was quite clearly the weak link in Barcelona's defence. A bizarre and almost inexplicable loss of form as of late for the French international.

Xavi - 7: Mercurial in the middle of the park as his passing game kept his side in control in the first half. Did his utmost to maintain that status in the second period, though he saw less of the ball due to slightly more negative tactics employed as the game went on.

Toure - 7: Did a tidy job mopping up whatever threat Schalke posed going forward and barely put a foot wrong.

Iniesta - 7: Energetic and always involved in the first half. Superb through-ball to initiate the play that earned Barcelona the goal. Drifted out of the game slightly in the second half.

Eto'o - 6: Largely uninvolved out wide on the right, but scores fairly well for playing his position with discipline and doing his utmost to stretch a very compact defence.

Bojan - 7: Always made himself a nuisance in and amongst the defence. Was in the right place at the right time to hammer home from close range.

Henry - 7: Played a crucial part in the only goal of the game and scores well by default for that reason. Troubled Rafinha in the first half, in the second period he was not quite up to the task.

Substitutes: Marquez - 5, Giovani - 5, Sylvinho - 6.