Beautiful, creative, attacking futbol. This style of futbol is the most attractive and exciting to watch, especially if you're one of the people who are new to soccer/futbol, depending on what you call it. Here, at least for me, it's futbol, not soccer.
This past Wednesday, Arsenal FC of the English Premier League and Barcelona FC of La Liga BBVA in Spain squared off in the first leg of the Champions League Quarter-Final match. The first leg was drawn to the Gunners of Arsenal, meaning they would play host to Los Cules of Barcelona. The minute the draw was completed and these two passing juggernauts were pinned against each other, the result of the 2006 Champions League Final came into play and created a super match-up.
For the Gunners, captain Cesc Fabregas was playing against his childhood team as well as rumors from the press that he was going back. All the pressure of the fans wanting him to stay piled onto the pressure he already has as being captain of the Arsenal squad; it didn't matter. He was cool, calm, and collective as he walked onto the pitch when the game started. Cesc walked out next to a majority of his boyhood friends such as Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique, and Andres Iniesta, all who played with him when Cesc was rising in the ranks in the Barcelona Academy. Regardless, the game which ensued was one that can be argued as a top quarter-final LEG, let alone complete match.
The game ended in a 2 - 2 draw, with Barcelona capturing two precious away goals as the second leg is played back in Camp Nou. Barcelona started the game dominating possession, for the first hour of gameplay, pounding Arsenal keeper Manuel Almunia with shot after shot after shot coming from every angle and player. Almunia kept Arsenal in the match until the 46th minute where a longball from Xavi put complete striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic through, alone against Almunia, making it a no contest as Zlatan chipped the Gunners' keeper to put Barca ahead 1 - 0. Following that goal, Zlatan was through onto goal again in the 59th and simply blasted a shot into the back of the net, making it 2 - 0. Seemed as though all hope was gone....
Then, the Gunners mounted a comeback. It started with quite the impact substitution in the 67th minute. Lightning-fast winger Theo Walcott was subbed onto the pitch for Bacary Sagna, putting him on the right wing against Brazilian left-back Maxwell. Maxwell was no match for Walcott, who immediately showed his pace, flying by Maxwell and put one under Barca keeper Victor Valdez to bring Arsenal back within one. 15 minutes go by, hope is all but lost, when a ball is sent into the middle of the Barcelona box. Nicklas Bendtner is there, heads it to the side where Cesc is to volley it home, when Barca captain Carles Puyol comes in and runs into Cesc's right leg, clearly obstructing him from scoring. This foul resulted in Puyol's dissmisal and a penalty for Arsenal. Who else but captain Cesc Fabregas to take it. The captain fixed his socks, took a deep breath, and lasered in the penalty into the left corner, equalizing the match, where it finished 2 - 2.
The most stunning event of the match game during the post-game interviews. Cesc had limped off the field for he feared he injured his leg, which was later to be discovered as a cracked fibula. Reporters surrounded Cesc, wanting to question him about his goal against his childhood club. One reporter asked, "So Cesc, how does it feel to score against your boyhood club Barcelona? Was it thrilling? Was it like revenge?" And like the true captain he is, Fabregas responded, "I don't know what you're talking about. I didn't score against Barcelona; I scored for Arsenal."
And that, ladies and gentleman, is a captain. He is who I want leading my team and leading my dynamic passing attack. The second leg is this coming Tuesday, the 6th. Tune in to see who wins in this 'display of art'.