April 22nd, 2010
10:26 AM ET

Did the volcano affect the European Champions League?

The eruptions from Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull caused chaos in Europe this week, as airspace across the continent was placed in lock down by authorities keen to stop planes being damaged by the abrasive ash plume.

The volcano that has caused all of the trouble.
The volcano that has caused all of the trouble.

The knock-on effect of this was that, for football teams and players competing in continental competition, the normal luxurious manner of traveling in chartered jet aircraft was ditched in favor of the good, old-fashioned road trip.

Soccer players and fans from Lagos to London will be familiar with cramming into a car to get to "the match," but it was something of a spectacle to see multimillionaires such as Lionel Messi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Hugo Lloris doing the same to reach the venue of the semifinals of the most lucrative competition in world club football.

Reigning champions Barcelona chose to make the 600 mile, 9-hour journey from the shores of the Mediterranean in Catalonia to Italian giants Inter Milan in two coaches.

Like any long road trip, this entailed various stops at service stations along the route, giving opportunity for the stars of Barca to sign autographs and mingle with surprised motorists who had not countered on meeting some of the finest and most famous footballers on the planet when they stopped to fill up with petrol.

French side Lyon opted to tackle their 500 mile trip to German city Munich in nine minibuses, a strange choice for one of the nation's top sides, but maybe they felt the smaller, nimble vehicles would be better to negotiate the narrow lanes and by-ways of the Alps. Or maybe all the coaches had been booked?

Either way, both Barcelona and Lyon were both defeated (3-1 to Inter and and 1-0 to Bayern respectively) and now face the prospect of overhauling a deficit in the second leg of the semifinals. Barcelona's defeat was something of an upset for a team touted as the best in the world, with star players such as Messi and Xavi unusually quiet over the 90 minutes.

Lyon too were lackluster and struggled to threaten the Bayern goal as much as they would have liked. Had the volcano-initiated travel sapped their verve?

Did the volcano affect the Champions League?

Jose Mourinho certainly seemed to think so, claiming that he "had a friend in the volcano" as it had helped his side, "I am responsible for that" said the seemingly now omnipotent Special One. Maybe he is right, that modern-day players have become so used to being wrapped in cotton wool that even a small move outside their comfort zone can hamper performance.

English clubs Liverpool and Fulham may add evidence to the theory that lengthy road hauls aren't the best way to prepare for top-class football matches if they lose to opponents Atletico Madrid and Hamburg respectively in the Europa League, only time will tell.

The funny thing is that Bayern had found a way to circumvent the need for arduous journeying, if the European lock down on flights had continued, that no other club across the continent had thought of - they planned to book a helicopter.

If the German giant's football reflects their clear-minded thinking maybe we could see Louis Van Gaal's team emerging as champions this year.

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soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. Ishaya Nankap

    Certainly fatigue gave Inter the edge as they relied mostly on counter attacks. A method that works against an immobile side – barcelona showed the trait of fatigue in the encounter.

    April 22, 2010 at 11:56 am | Reply
  2. Melitus

    Non of the team should attribute their failure or even there success as a result of volcano and especially let them not hide under such uncovering umbrella. Thanks

    April 22, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Reply
  3. Solomon Benjamin

    It's true that the long journey affected their performance, because the like of messi and others would not have embarked on such journey. Imagine when last he (messi) travel by road. Iam a Barca fan from Nigeria. Fatique contributed 2 their defeat anyway

    April 22, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Reply
  4. Amaechi

    The Inter boss has always made football a rib cracking one."He had a friend in the volcano" implies coaches should likewise explore nature for training but I think hes got their nod before anyone.

    April 22, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Reply
  5. ivan muwanika

    no think Britain has sampled us so think the situation is coming down.

    April 22, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Reply
  6. Nnamdi Nwobu

    What can one possibly argue about the outcome of the match between inter and Barca.....but to rather admit that he is indeed the special one

    April 22, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Reply
  7. Muhammad

    No it not affect any of them

    April 22, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Reply
  8. Sorexolad

    Am sure that barca(catalans) will win inter-milan nxt week wednesday.

    April 22, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Reply
  9. Jolly smith

    I dnt see reason while people believe dat barca lost to inter bcuz of volcanic in whelther condition.

    April 22, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Reply
  10. Jerry

    It just because 2 me the better side or stroger side won so they should net blime it or any air problem.

    April 22, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Reply
  11. Fidelis Egbuluese

    No doubt, the long trip to the venue of the match will definately affect the teams. Apart from the fact that they will be tired, they did not have much time to train together as a team.

    April 22, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Reply
  12. Kamisu umar

    Unclimatic condition affect our players for long jouney on road trip.that is why we defeted by inter milan.

    April 22, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Reply
  13. Wole oladeji, ilesa, osun

    To me what on earth do u xpect barca to play? Do they want to kil themselves? Volcano or not is not a geniune excuse. They should learn to accept defeat with all respect.

    April 22, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Reply
  14. Oni

    No it was the issue

    April 22, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Reply
  15. HKF

    No. Barca were just poor because Messi was well gurarded and had limited effect. Inter deserved to win. The same apply to Bayern Vs Lyon

    April 22, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Reply
  16. Akingbade

    Jose is simply the best. volcanoe or tsunami, he ll surely beat barca in spain. messi and xavi are barca, mark them out the game is over for barca.

    April 22, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Reply
  17. Kufre kingsley

    What an excuse, how can coming by road or by air stop u from wining de match. Succes is by hardwork.

    April 22, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Reply
  18. Kingsley

    That will never be a lose to barcelona.the will still win at home.

    April 22, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Reply
  19. Abraham

    Why did it nt affact it

    April 22, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Reply
  20. Charlie

    Maybe UEFA should rule that the teams travelling for the return leg should also go by coach/minibuses!

    April 22, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Reply

    lion has a lot of international players, that can adapt to any weather,so they stand a better chace to win the league

    April 22, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Reply
  22. Utibe inyang abia

    Barca and inter played a nice game, but inter fight to finish and that make them victorious.

    April 22, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Reply
  23. jack

    Messi was quite at the Emirates.

    April 22, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Reply
  24. Gurufootball

    The media certainly have nothing better to write. Now the air ban cost Barca and Lyon??????
    If that’s the case these so called top notch soccer players are a bunch of prima ballerinas. I frequently take a bus from Monterrey to Mexico City. It’s a 10 hr. trip but the busses are luxury with seats that recline almost flat and I sleep it off. Did they use a school bus, and drank bear all the way while singing “Hey bus driver speed up a little bit.”
    And busses don’t stop for gas at least not the one’s I take 900km. They do stop for the bus driver to have a bite and WC break for those who wish because they even have his and hers bathrooms inside, coffee maker etc.

    April 22, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Reply
  25. Gbenga

    Well varying opinions will come up. but sincerely if inter had played suboptimally would barca have spared them and would they have said its beacuse of volcanic ash. please come off it. The celebrated the early goal if only they knew, apparently they had forgotten the Arsenal ignoble event. They are professionals palying almost "daily" they lost to a better side that day SIMPLE.

    Let us see what they will do in Barcelona. Lagerback please watch that match very well as both teams had about a handful of Agentines on display. Just be the special one for Nigeria in SA, so that we dont lag back

    Inter don't disappoint, finish what you started.
    Barca it will be a shame if inter beats you to it again "may be due to the continued effect of the Volcanic Ash trip

    Let me just enjoy good football as an anasthesia to myrad of problems in Nigeria- bet you i will watch it with the help of my " i better pass my neighbour"

    April 22, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Reply
  26. himmet

    Inter won the match deservedly and mourinho showed us that he is still the special one. but I do not think two goal advantage is enough to make it to the final. Forever Barca

    April 22, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Reply
  27. Myriam Coronado

    For those who think it did not help, why don't you take this long trip for yourselves. I have to travel 1 1/2 hours each way to take my daughter to school everyday and by the end of the week I'm really worn out.

    It doesn't matter if you do it in public transportation or in a luxury car, is keeping your body into small space and not being able to function properly, specially for 1,000 kms.

    I do think it helped, I'm not saying it was the cause. I hope the Inter has to tarvel this much too!!!!

    Barca, # 1 and the first to get all 6 Cups in a row. No matter what happends now, even if the Real Madrid does it in the future, it's like when twins are born, once the second, always the second.

    April 22, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Reply
  28. Oshodi kunle martins.

    why debating? Inter was more focused & determined 2 win the match. Kunle oshodi from ondo state,Nigeria.

    April 22, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Reply
  29. Sir Ruphynen1

    No club should hide under d escuses of any fatigue of road journey.i pray that volcanic ashes should not till next week so that Inter & Bayern too can travel through road.

    April 22, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Reply
  30. Tochi ( Landlord )

    This is not the time to give excuses for ones defeat. If Barca feel that they are still the world champion they should prove it in the second leg at their home soil. Most importantly Inter deserves their Win because they worked for it. Success is a product of a hardwork. It is no ones birth right.

    April 22, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Reply
  31. David Kazungu Jefwa

    Barca , should learn to accept diffit. They should not look for excuses.
    Since (Inter) is one of best teams in the world , with a very strong scud.
    Come next Wensday , inter will beat Barca again. Mark my words

    April 22, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Reply
  32. AK

    As a european and as a passionate football fan- especially CL, I come to think of why there even have been doubts towards the vulcanic ash and therefor no flights, was to be the main factor of both barcelona and lyon losing in their repectives games redicules. When it came to the games both teams who won played better football, especially inter. In my mind barca were favorites in that game but bayern was undoubtedly favorites in Munich. The fact that a bus ride – probably a very luxurious bus ride for 800-1000km should have been the reason why the two teams lost is pathetic. Those guys run almost 10km pr game and train every day around the clock. If there was anything they were capable of its a road trip.. When the ref witsles no one thinks of the tiredness that suposedly should have occurred for barca and lyon.. Bad excuse of playing bad (barcas defense especially).. Anyways the final between inter and bayern on bernabeu is going to be great!

    April 22, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Reply
  33. Cece

    It never affected the game....... If it had affected the game, it could have been 3-0

    April 22, 2010 at 10:00 pm | Reply
  34. tony

    The long trip from Barcelona to milan did not have an effect on the players, however the referee most certainly did have an effect on the final result. "Rumour has it that he is a close friend of Mourinho"

    April 22, 2010 at 10:02 pm | Reply
  35. Bezai

    The Omnipotent special one has a way of making the game of football more exciting by funny coments. With Eto'o and Maicon, Barca would have lost irrespective of the acclaim fatigue of 9 hours travel due to volcanic ash. Inter gingered their swagger, that overhauled Barca's defense. The Great One could'nt just match the Master.

    April 22, 2010 at 10:39 pm | Reply
  36. Farrukh

    Hello to all, barca is cool club. I think the road journey for messi effected therefore he could not play well. The road journey effects to players in different way. I think, the Inter and Bayern must go to Barca and Lyon by bus. It will be fare. Barca and Lyon will play in final.:-)

    April 23, 2010 at 4:33 am | Reply
  37. Salum Chezeni

    To me, its true that the volacano ddid affect the perfomance of the champions league. Simply approved by the yesterday 9t result,what happende to liverpool. But lets see next week what will happen as now Flights are resumed.

    April 23, 2010 at 6:01 am | Reply
  38. Oriaku

    What about Fulham & Hamburg? Was it not by road Fulham travel to Hamburg? Pls lets wait till the final 90 minutes.

    April 23, 2010 at 9:48 am | Reply
  39. sandikoks

    4 God's sake barca should learn 2 accept defeat 4 once,inter milan won cos dey played better dan barca.

    April 23, 2010 at 10:11 am | Reply
  40. Someone who's smarter than you

    Barcelona and Lyon suck!!! Their players weigh 500 tons and they are so hideous that they look like aliens from old movies. What a showoff!
    Those players must be punished

    April 23, 2010 at 10:31 am | Reply
  41. marc

    Phew you all are forgetting something very important, okay the special one may have played a hand in the defeat of Barca in Milan, but again it could be fate that no team wins back to back titles, because i believe the winner of this title will win the trophy, but again we'll see what pep is made of, whether he is a really good manager or he just inherited a good squad from Rijkaard.but again if there's no hoodoo of back to back titles, Barca will destroy inter.

    April 23, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Reply
  42. Gurufootball

    For those who think it did not help, why don't you take this long trip for yourselves. I have to travel 1 1/2 hours each way to take my daughter to school everyday and by the end of the week I'm really worn out.

    1 ½ hrs, each way, 5 days a week ??????? Probably lots of traffic huh. That would make anyone tired. But this is not the case. It’s 1 trip in a roomy bus, (there were 2) and world class athletes, which I don’t think you are sweetie.

    It doesn't matter if you do it in public transportation or in a luxury car, is keeping your body into small space and not being able to function properly, specially for 1,000 kms.

    Pobrecitos. You feel sorry for these guys who if anything are a bunch of spoiled babies.

    I do think it helped, I'm not saying it was the cause. I hope the Inter has to tarvel this much too!!!!
    Barca, # 1 and the first to get all 6 Cups in a row. No matter what happends now, even if the Real Madrid does it in the future, it's like when twins are born, once the second, always the second.

    Sorry not going to happen.

    April 23, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Reply
  43. Meti

    1000km trip for people who r not use to it,is too much.But i agree with some of the readers here that say it doents effect the team.But they should consider also that Inter played Friday the game that was sceduled for Saturday,so they had one more day off.In other hand Barca played a very difficult and fisical derby against Espanol on Saturday night,the next morning they took the bus to Monaco (france),stayed one night there,then monday morning back on the bus again to Milan,they arrived there monday afternoon.Now,knowing that,do u still think that didnt effect their game even a little bit!?

    April 24, 2010 at 11:12 am | Reply
  44. Max

    First of all, before the match, Guardiola said that the trip was not going to affect the match in any way. So now what?
    Inter won simply cause they played better. As often happens, Spanish teams are too focused on the attacking phase neglecting the defensive one. That's nothing good when the opponent is an Italian team. Everybody knows that Italians masterize the art of counter attack. I am sorry to say that, cause I think Guardiola is a very good couach, but... to attack an Itallian team that way is always a suicide.

    April 25, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Reply
  45. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    CL is a tough football competition. Weak teams do not reach the semis in such a long drawn football tournament. Playing away from home is lot more difficult. Losing to Inter and Bayern were certainly not shock defeats for the visitors or shock victories for the hosts. In the return leg the home sides will have ample opportunities to do justice to their talents on familiar terrains. Best wishes to the four semi-finalists and their fans.

    April 26, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Reply
  46. Makaka Fix

    Knowing whom Jose is he will go after spoiling Barca's game plan so as to keep them struggling to recreate their game while he defends his 3-1 aggregate more so his plan is to cut Messi off n deny him balls meaning Guardiola should make well calculated moves in order to counter Inter

    April 27, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Reply
  47. Dae Yeop Wang

    I am happy to see that Inter milan successfully defenced Messi, because South Korea is ranked with Arghentina in world cup. Now, South Korea is reall worried, because of Messi's powerful offense. And I hope this humonguos volcando didn't affect Barcelona.

    April 27, 2010 at 9:54 pm | Reply
  48. Grace

    Perhaps fatigue did contribute at some factor to the players, but i just realize now that bayern is at CL Finals and if Inter does it as well, it will be just like the 1982 world cup where in (West) Germany and Italy met at the finals. and i think it was also in the Santiago Bernabeu. A preparation to the upcoming clash this 2010 world cup maybe?

    April 28, 2010 at 7:09 am | Reply
  49. Terry uche

    Failure has many friends in excuses. The better sides won please.

    April 28, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Reply
  50. Dae Yeop Wang

    Yeah, InterMilan won!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 30, 2010 at 9:47 pm | Reply
  51. footfan

    Anyone who commutes to work will tell you that commuting is very taxing on the body. If the normal method of a not entirely comfortable plane flight is replaced by a 9 hour commute by road, of course there will be more adverse effects upon the players. Anyone contesting that this had nothing to do with first leg performances is out of touch with reality. Both traveling teams looked lethargic. Whether the long journey decided the football tie is really anybody's guess but certainly the players would have preferred to fly, train, review tactics, and be fresher for the match than to do all preparations after a lengthy drive.

    April 30, 2010 at 11:59 pm | Reply
  52. Meforfutball

    Yes, it did. Liverpool's performance on both legs were due to fatigue of the long trip

    May 5, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Reply

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