Playing football against Barcelona is a difficult task, no matter the size of your club.
Inter Milan were Barça’s opponents in the latest round of Champions League matches, and knew they’d have to come up with something novel to deal with the threat of Luis Suárez, Philippe Coutinho and the rest – even with Lionel Messi injured, it wouldn’t be easy.
Barcelona are capable of beating everyone, even if they don’t have all the members of the squad which produced the greatest ever Champions League comeback against Paris Saint-Germain.
They were too much for Inter, too, but for one short moment the Italian club had their number.
Barcelona can take their pick from some of the world’s best free-kick takers, and those men can do more or less anything with the ball.
Inter knew this, and perhaps Marcelo Brozović knew it more than most. He had probably seen Coutinho craftily roll a free-kick under the wall before, and he was going to make sure history did not repeat itself.
So, what did the Croatian World Cup midfielder do? Did he stand in the wall and refuse to jump? Maybe it would be an idea to wander behind his teammates and try to get a foot to the shot on the off-chance Suárez went low when everyone else went high.
No, not only would that have been too easy, but it might have failed to achieve the desired aim – if Brozović tried one of these things, there was still no guarantee of him getting in the way of a low free-kick.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and you can’t get much more desperate than this…
Yes, your eyes do not deceive you, that’s Brozović running up behind the wall and then sliding until he’s resting full-length with his back to the ball. Other teams have laid players down behind the wall before, but we’ve found none who have got a player to try it after the run-up has begun.
Are there more efficient approaches? Yes. Are there less dumb approaches? Also yes. Are we pleased Brozović couldn’t think of any? Again, we’ll answer in the affirmative.
This is the point at which we’re supposed to tell you the block was the turning point in a memorable victory, with Inter buoyed by their midfielder and coming from behind and recording a famous win at Camp Nou.
Sadly, though, football doesn’t work like that. Jordi Alba eventually doubled the hosts’ lead and that was all she wrote. Still, we know who the real winner was.