It’s Chelsea in the Semi-Final

As expected our opponents in the Champions League semi-final will be Chelsea after they beat Benfica 2-1 at Stamford Bridge tonight. This gives us a repeat of the 2009 semi-final which was decided with Andres Iniesta’s injury time strike, only this time the first game on Wednesday 18th April will take place in London with the return game at Camp Nou on the following Tuesday. We should not forget that sandwiched between the two games we will receive Real Madrid, on Saturday 21st April, in a game that could still decide La Liga.

Chelsea have had a difficult season in the English Premier League. Young coach Andre Villas-Boas arrived last summer hailed as a tactical wizard after his success at Porto. However, his attempts to rejuvenate an aging team came up against obstacles. Characters such as John Terry and Frank Lampard carry a lot of weight in the dressing room, and the manner in which Lampard was dropped to the bench without an explanation was not seen favourably. However, it is also rumoured that some players were hostile to Villas-Boas from the start as they did not approve of his new training methods. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich claimed that players were responsible for his decision to sack Villas-Boas and replace him with Roberto Di Matteo, but you have to ask yourself: who is in charge here? and if you want to back your coach, then back him and don’t sack him. Sounds like a big mistake to me.

Chelsea’s league form has not improved greatly with Di Matteo but Chelsea have progressed to two semi-finals. The FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham is programmed to be played on Sunday 15th April, just three days before the first leg with Barça, though I imagine it is possible the English FA will allow the Tottenham game to be brought forward to the Saturday. On the following Saturday (21st April) Chelsea play at Arsenal in the league and as things stand now they are going to need the points to maintain their challenge for a top four finish to gain a Champions League place next season. Chelsea are currently in 5th place, five points behind both Arsenal and Tottenham.

Chelsea will want to win their domestic games against local rivals but for their older players the Champions League near misses of the past will no doubt be an extra motivation. Lampard, Terry, Drogba, Essien Cole and Cech have all been very close. Losing on penalties to Manchester United in the 2008 final must still haunt them, and then to go so close only to lose to Barça in a somewhat controversial semi-final the following year may have left some Chelsea players banging their heads against a wall. They are going to want revenge, that goes without saying. However, they are coming up against a Barça side that is now well practiced in these big games, and with Leo Messi in such irresistible form, there may be some Chelsea players in need of years of therapy after this year’s contest.

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8 Responses to It’s Chelsea in the Semi-Final

  1. Shakalero says:

    I feel that Chelsea are a weak team in comparison with the 2009 team. It should be easy to beat them. Although we are talking about the Champions League semifinal. Everything could happen.

  2. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    Damn, Pep had more hair at that time around =)

    A special mention to the wonderful performance by Pablo Aimar for Benfica. The guy was doing everything,but scoring. He somehow reminds me a little about our very own Iniesta. Aimar was SUPERB tonight. Sadly, the better team didn’t qualify to the semis for this encounter.

    I’d like the Blaugrana to gather inspiration from Aimar. With the ammunition that we possess i would expect nothing less than a 2-0 and above victory at S.Bridge, with both goals coming strictly from open-play. It is now or NEVER. We have to put the final blow on the last of the BPL army…and i insist we do it in style.

    We have to silence this nonsense talk abt REFFS and UEFA giving out favorable calls for our team in the UCL!!! We must go for the ABSOLUTE KILL at Stamford Bridge and we must KILL them in BRUTAL FASHION!

    I trust PEP will know exactly what to do!!! Visca EL Barca!

  3. Ramesh says:

    Don’t worry. A lot of the heavy weights in Chelsea – Terry, Lampard and others of the old guard will call it quits and never play football, after they receive a lesson from Barca. Atleast Fergie was honest and accepted the difference in class between Barca and Man Utd when they were thumped twice

  4. Fredegar says:

    Well, the difference is that we never really “thumped” Chelsea, indeed in 09 we were very lucky not to be thumped ourselves and to still be in with a chance when Iniesta delivered us (and I’m not talking about the ref, but Chelsea thoroughly dominated us that night). A very terrible game of suffering, ending with what will probably be my best football memory ever (what could beat this frankly?)
    But for all their failings this year, Chelsea remain a dangerous animal, and Pep, having learnt his lesson against Inter, will play safe at Stamford Bridge, so unless we have a fantastic game it will probably be very close before the Camp Nou game.
    Chelsea will be super super motivated, they know how to defend against us, and once again we will need a huge Piqué to stand a chance. Chelsea have been absolutely ruthless on dead balls and I wouldn’t want to go to Stamford bridge with Puyol and Masch in the center of defense.
    And of course we play Madrid just inbetween… I know we won’t be at a disadvantage be it against Madrid or Chelsea as they have their own huge games to play, but we’re so much better when we are rested compared to when we have to play every three days.

  5. layibiyi says:

    about that game, isnt it funny how nobody talks about the unfair red card which was shown to abidal, after anelka tripped himself. Can have a look again, around the 2.00 mark:

    That left us with 10 men with about 35mins left, and that came before most of the so called handball penalties.

    but i’m sure most people here know why actions such as this and many others are easily forgotten compared to others. If barca was not winning every trophy in sight, nobody would have a second to spare on such issues. There have been almost no winner of the champions league or a tournament who did not get some lucky decision. The problem arises when you continue to win and win, people look for silly reasons such as these. Instead of people to be querying the modern day coaches for their lack of solution to our domination, they prefer to focus on things that would be forgotten when people look back at this era.

    I am just happy our players have their foot on the ground, know whats at stake and fight till the end. I really hope we go back to the camp nou this time with a better result than 0-0 even though stamford bridge with its small pitch has always been difficult.

  6. barcacentralnic says:

    Just reread my blog on Fcbnews from that amazing night in 2009. http://www.oleole.com/blogs/fcbnews/posts/chelsea-1-barca-1-1-1-aggregate—barca-win-on-away-goals
    One thing I had forgotten is that we also played Real Madrid in the league between the two Chelsea games three years ago. Strange coincidence. What happened then? Oh yes, Barça won 2-6 at the Bernabeu!

  7. bc9jaCulé says:

    Your last sentence says it best. Spot on.

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