YOKOHAMA, Japan – Spanish giants FC Barcelona made short work of Qatari side Al Sadd SC 4-0 in the second semifinal match of the FIFA Clubs World Cup at Yokohama International stadium, here. The UEFA champion advanced to the final and will face Brazil’s Santos FC.
The Catalan squad made its first appearance in the tournament facing an Al Sadd side that had defeated Esperance Sportive de Tunis in the quarter finals a few days before.
“Al Sadd were very compact in defense and waited for their chance to hit us on the counter with their two quick strikers,” said Barcelona Coach Josep Guardiola. “That made it hard for us to find space, but all in all we did a good job. Now we’re looking forward to the final against Santos, a strong team with a lot of technically gifted players.”
The game began with Barcelona taking control of the field with long passes attempting to overwhelm the Qataris. The Asian Football Confederation champions set up a solid defense with five players across the back, and three midfielders that would quickly fall back to defend when Barcelona was within striking distance.
Barcelona created more opportunities controlling the sphere longer than their rivals, with 71% possession at halftime. Playmaker Lionel Messi had several chances earlier on, either taking the shots himself or passing to open team mates. However the crafty Argentine was well guarded by the Qatari defenders.
It wasn’t until the 25th minute of play that Barcelona was able to break through the Qatari defense. Pedro centered a ball that was intercepted by Nadir Belhadj inches from goalkeeper Mohamed Saqr. A miscommunication between the Algerian and the goalkeeper allowed Adriano to run in and drive the ball into the net giving Barcelona the 1-0 lead.
Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola had to make his first substitution at the 36th minute when David Villa broke his shinbone after chasing a long ball. Barcelona reported to FIFA that Villa will be out of action for five months. The Spanish international will miss most of the La Liga matches in 2012 and UEFA Champions League as well. Guardiola had to bring in Chilean international Alexis Sanchez.
Adriano increased Barcelona’s lead in the 43rd minute after he received a shot outside the box. The Brazilian controlled the ball, ran it past the border and took the shot. The ball bounced changing the trajectory to defeat Mohamed once more. Al Sadd increased their pressure in the final minutes, but the half would end with Barcelona leading 2-0.
The second half began with a stingy Al Sadd holding eight players to defend their goal from further Barcelona scoring. Messi continued with brilliant plays, slowly breaking through the Qatari defense.
It was Messi who assisted in the third goal, slipping the sphere to Seydou Keita who received the filtered pass between two Al Sadd players. The Mali international tapped the ball past Mohamed for the 3-0.
In the 81st minute Maxwell received a filtered pass going into the box from Thiago. The Brazilian duo made a good combination as Maxwell took a low shot to defeat a diving Mohamed for the final goal of the night. The AFC champion will face Kashiwa Reysol for third place.
Barcelona proved to be too much for a Qatari team that opted to defend in order to prevent a thrashing at the feet of the Catalans. However, Barcelona, with Messi creating several opportunities slowly overcame Al Sadd’s defense. What Al Sadd coach Jorge Fossati intended to prevent is exactly what happened. With methodical playing, Barcelona was able to pick apart Al Sadd and take the game 4-0.