Chelsea 1 Barcelona 0

Barça face an uphill task in the Champions League semi-final after losing the first leg 1-0 to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge tonight. Didier Drogba was preferred to Fernando Torres to lead the Chelsea attack and he repaid Roberto di Matteo’s confidence in him with the only goal of the game on the stroke of half time. Barça had chances to score an important away goal but Alexis’s early effort hit the crossbar, and in the very last minute Pedro came close to repeating Andres Iniesta’s injury time equalizer three years ago, but his shot came out off the far post.

Pep Guardiola went for an attacking 4-3-3 with Alves and Adriano as attacking full backs and a midfield trio of Xavi, Busquets and Fabregas. Javier Mascherano and Carles Puyol made up the central defence meaning Gerard Piqué started on the bench. Up front Alexis and Messi formed the main strike force with Andres Iniesta playing wide on the left. In the first three minutes we saw a clear difference in the styles of the two teams, from the kick off Barça kept the ball for well over a minute before Chelsea got a touch, but in the third minute Chelsea showed the danger of route one football when Cech’s enormous kick sent Drogba through but the first touch of the Chelsea forward let him down and the ball ran on to Valdés.

Drogba’s next action was to leave his studs in Sergio Busquets, but then a couple of minutes later he showed his skill to turn Mascherano, and Puyol had to be quickly across to cover. Then in the ninth minute Iniesta came inside and played the ball forward to Messi who touched it back and Iniesta sent a splendid pass over the top to Alexis who beat Cech to the ball but his lob over the Chelsea keeper came out off the crossbar.

Barça were totally dominating the possession and the threat of the long ball to Drogba seemed to be diminishing as despite the striker’s strength we always had somebody covering if he won the first ball. We also limited the danger by not conceding free kicks and corners though a couple of long throws of Ivanovic caused us some confusion and Mata had one snap shot over after Busquets failed to get a better clearance.

At the other end Barça continued to work patiently to find the way through Chelsea’s disciplined defence. Messi was finding things especially difficult but in the 17th minute he dribbled into the left of the Chelsea area before touching the ball back to Iniesta who shot from an angle, Cech parried the shot straight out to Cesc who mishit his shot from 8 yards out with the goal gaping, and Alexis couldn’t react to divert the ball home.

Barça continued to press, Iniesta dribbled past Cahill and appeared to be pushed as he went into the area but the German referee waved play on. Then in a rare lapse from the Chelsea defence Cesc received the ball in the area but after sidestepping Cahill his shot was beaten away by Cech. The next chance came with Messi’s firm downward header from Alexis’s cross but Cech followed the bounce and saved by the post.

However, in the last 15 minutes of the first half we began to run out of ideas. Play seemed to be stopped every couple of minutes as Drogba managed to hurt every part of his anatomy but we were beginning to look frustrated. Then in the 43rd minute Messi robbed Mikel in the centre circle and sped off towards goal, as the defence were drawn towards him Messi slipped the ball left to Fabregas who touched the ball past Cech but Ashley Cole was scampering back to clear the ball a metre before it crossed the line.

From a possible 0-1 we went to 1-0 before the break.  There was a moment of concern in injury time when Messi slipped on loose turf and looked to have injured himself. It was just a scare as he was soon on his feet but 30 seconds later when he received the ball again he got caught in possession by Lampard who then sent a quick crossfield ball to Ramires who took advantage of Alves being caught upfield to surge down the Chelsea left, Puyol and Mascherano both came across leaving Drogba free and when Ramires pulled the ball back across goal Drogba was there to sweep the ball past Valdés.

The 1-0 scoreline suited Chelsea perfectly and in the second half they sat back even more. Barça tried to be patient but the chances were harder to find. Adriano came forward dribbling past Lampard before shooting right footed from the edge of the area but Cech dived to his left to make a comfortable save. It looked like we had finally found a way through when Cesc scooped a pass over the defence which Alexis appeared to have controlled brilliantly but the ball got stuck a bit too close to his feet and he pushed his shot inches wide of Cech’s left post.

Despite our continued dominance of possession most of our attacks ended with passes cut out, shots blocked or fouls. Unfortunately our free kick taking was disappointing and we failed to trouble Cech with any dead ball shots though it appeared to be Sergio Busquets in the Chelsea wall who blocked one Messi effort. Pedro came on for Alexis with 25 minutes remaining but we failed to find a rhythm as the game was broken up by fouls and more substitutions and of course with more Drogba feigned injuries.

With time running out Barça made a final push. In the 87th minute Messi’s free kick was flicked on by Puyol and Cech had to go full stretch to make a magnificent save while Thiago was just an inch from getting a touch which might have beaten the Chelsea keeper. Then in the final minute of injury time Messi played the ball forward to Busquets who backheeled the ball back, Messi then found Pedro coming in from the left. It all looked set for the equalizer, Pedro shot low and firm and with intention, the ball took the slightest of deflections off Terry’s heel, beat Cech before bouncing out off the far post, Busquets following up could only send the rebound flying high over the bar.

There was no Iniesta miracle today but Barça created enough chances to have won the game. Chelsea defended well in numbers and gave us very little room, but we had at least five great chances to score today. However, we seemed to lack conviction with our finishing and we will have to correct this next week. Chelsea will play with a similar plan at Camp Nou where it is going to be vital not to concede an away goal. Chelsea have always been the most difficult English side for us to break down, we will have to do better next Tuesday.

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanović, Cahill, Terry, Cole, Lampard, Mikel, Ramires (Bosingwa m88), Meireles, Mata (Kalou m74); Drogba

Barça: Valdés 6; Alves 6.5, Mascherano 7, Puyol 7, Adriano 6; Xavi 6 (Cuenca m87, –), Busquets 6, Fabregas 5 (Thiago m78, 6); Alexis 6 (Pedro m66, 5.5), Messi 6, Iniesta 7.

Goals: m45+2 Drogba 1-0

Yellow cards: m69 Ramires, m71 Pedro, m76 Busquets, m86 Drogba

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18 Responses to Chelsea 1 Barcelona 0

  1. jumpingpolarbear says:

    I still see Barca as favourites!

  2. ransae says:

    Reblogged this on Ransae's Blog.

  3. Caleb says:

    Fab had a game to forget and I would always rather see iniesta playing in mid. With how well Cuenca and tello have helped unlock stubborn defenses I would have liked to see them sooner instead of Pedro (who did come close with his effort but if we’re all honest hasnt really done much this season).

    Anyway barca still has a good chance. Chelsea is tough. We played better football and made more chances but we’ve got to finish. Força barça!!

  4. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    We never had any sort of luck at all did we?? I am still wondering as to why Pique couldn’t take field??? We needed his height and power pretty badly for this one. Lastly, i question the entire idea of playing Cuenca instead of Tello. Cuenca, a more traditional winger is certainly good at crosses….but we as a team have already lost the aerial battle in the centre of the box. So why Cuenca???? Why not Tello?? Why not Pique in defence instead of wither Puyol or Mascherano?? Drogba won the physical fight with so much ease. That’s really not something good at all. We were lucky not to loose a goal during set piece situations whereby, we clearly lacked the height to defend the Chelsea threat.

    In summarry, i this is a game to forget. Fabregas, Alexis, Messi, Iniesta, Xavi, Adriano, Busquets…actually the entire team played pretty well as a unit, JUST NO END result. The substitution choice made by Pep and Tito were not at all perfectly justified in my books. Pedro is fine, but the inclusion of both Thiago and Cuenca just didn’t make much sense at all to me.

  5. Ramesh says:

    I still believe we will get through in our home leg and go on to meet Bayern Munich in the finals

  6. Fredegar says:

    Di Matteo said before the game that Chels needed two perfect games to go through, well they have the first one at least. Everything went their way, the posts helping, Cech having an excellent night, Fab, Sanchez and Busquets missing open nets, and even the Heavens went to their rescue with this heavy rain always helping the defensive team. My my, how frustrating.
    But we must also give a lot of credit to Chelsea: their way was certainly not the most beautiful to watch, but they applied it well and, most importantly for me, without resorting to too much thuggery, so well done to them.
    Fab had a night to forget, hope we won’t hear too much of “it’s for playing games like this that I came here” in the future FFS. I can just imagine that Piqué was not fit cos’ I can’t see any other reason why he would not have played, and I don’t think Tello can have much of an impact in such a game where he has so little space to exploit, particularly if he has to confront this rock of Ivanovic.
    Our goals to occasions ratio is awful for a long time now, and this has cost us yesterday as we should have scored at least one. I was really furious at some points. But the setting is pretty much done for the return leg: both teams will play the same way, I imagine Chelsea will score one at some point on a counter so we will need three to get through, which we are perfectly able to get if we have just a bit of realism in front of the goal. We will probably create enough to get them, but with Messi so well controlled Fab’ and Alexis will have to be far more clinical…
    Something I would like to see is Cuenca and Alves playing together on the right wing: Cole is not as solid as Ivanovic defensively (although still pretty good mind) and so this could either create breaches on their flank or take a midfielder away from the center of the pitch, thus giving a bit more of space to Messi. A bit crazy maybe but hey, we’ve got to try something no?
    And finally: I hate Drogba, that must be said.

  7. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    Fredegar, i’f seen Ivanovic make lots of mistakes at the back this season. I think adriano LWB and Tello’s pace on the left will be too much to handle for Ivanovic. I tought Tello was the right guy for the night,,,,for his massive pace and his finishing ability. He could have made a bigger impact as a sub than Thiago or Cuenca.

    • Fredegar says:

      Yeah I was surprised to see Thiago come in too, as I couldn’t see what he could give us that we didn’t already have on the pitch. It’s true too that we played in Chelsea’s hands by not using the wings much. Alves waited the second half before really starting to get up front, Adriano barely attacked all game, and of course Alexis and Iniesta won’t provide a lot of width. I can imagine that in the return leg, we’ll play with three at the back and two wingers, and the larger pitch should help us a bit, but I don’t forget that Chelsea held the whole game without conceding a goal three years ago…

  8. barcacelt says:

    Truly believe this game was down to luck which was on the side of chelsea last night unfortunately..could argue chelsea did a good job of defending but the same could be said of barca with respect to their attacking given the opportunities and near misses only fortune favoured the home side..i felt prior to kickoff that chelsea would nip a result with a stroke of luck and lo an behold but pep knows what needs to be done next tuesday – chelsea will return to london then with their tails between their legs after a messi double and a xavi freekick screamer!

  9. FCB-Parbo says:

    My my my, so many wasted chances. Mr. unlucky was with us last night. Not even an away goal. We were far superior than Chelsea and that’s why I’m so dissapointed with the result. Yes it was a well parked bus and evenso we created so many chances. If they were converted than we all would have said Pep got it right. Pep did his thing (although I think he waited too long to sub Fab and Alex) and the guys didn’t. It was up to them on the field to be more clinical. Messi created a lot of chances and they all knew that the opposition would close him down. Messi can’t do all by himself, the others got to help him out. Can’t believe Messi got a 6. He was more involved in creating chances. Chelsea will now park a jumbo jet at Camp Nou. Di Matteo didn’t outsmart Pep. It was just parking that damn bus. Pep would have outsmarted the “parking that damn bus” if the chances were converted.
    I hope that our boys will be more clinical in front of goal this time. I believe in this team and we will prevail once again.

    VISCA BARCA!!!!!!

  10. bc9jaCulé says:

    To say the least, we were devastatingly poor in front of goal last night. I hear people the world over crediting Chelsea for parking the bus but I REFUSE TO. Again, what I can deduce from the comments above are suggestions about who Pep should or shouldn’t have subbed but THAT’S NOT REALLY THE CASE.

    Fact is: we broke the bus down on SEVERAL occasions but our comrades just couldn’t score — not even when the net was begging for the ball (Alexis, Fabregas and Busquets come to mind). Maybe it was just down to luck but it was quite agonizing to lose a match under such circumstances. If we can find our scoring form again, we WILL finish them off when they come visiting next week. It’s just that we’ve made it monumentally tougher for ourselves — what with the clasico we’ll have to negotiate right before the 2nd leg. The next two matches will go a long long way in defining how the season ends for Barça. A solid win in both and the treble is ours.

    Som–Hi Barça!!!!!

  11. layibiyi says:

    I just put this game down to luck. its very hard to get through to the champions league final even if you are better than every other team. You need luck along with your God-given talents. To do it 2 years in a row is even tougher. I hope we kill them off in the 2nd leg if we get those chances again. We cant really complain about tactics and moves made given the amount of chances we had and the way they scored their only goal. This is a semi-final against a top team seeking revenge and one last hurray, you cant ask for more than that.

    Next up, the classico: this would be crucial even for the 2nd leg against chelsea. You all know how that works. I know madrid would have been under more pressure if we had won. Our successes are forever linked.

    P.S. I think alves should have gotten like a 5. almost all his crosses were mishit.

  12. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    i kindda feel about the same for Alves….by his standards, he was poor on this occassion indeed. i hope we keep our heads right for El Clasicco. I expect more of the same from Mourinho’s Madrid…except the fact that he’d probably pressure us high up a little more.

  13. Fredegar says:

    And in other breaking news, I got my tickets for the clasico!
    Not very interesting you say? Yeah maybe, but i had to share 😀

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