Champions League semi-final 2nd leg: FC Barcelona 2 Chelsea 2 (Chelsea win 2-3 on aggregate))

It is hard to describe the disappointment tonight as Barça crashed out of the Champions League after an incredible 2-2 draw against ten-man Chelsea. Barça played an almost perfect first 45 minutes, scoring twice through Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta to overturn Chelsea’s first leg advantage, but then, already down to ten men after John Terry’s foolish sending off, a Ramires chip gave Chelsea a vital away goal in first half injury time. Leo Messi missed a penalty early in the second half and despite playing practically the whole second half pinning Chelsea’s ten players back in the final third of the pitch we failed to find another goal as anxiety crept in. Fernando Torres scored a runaway goal at the very end to finish the job for Chelsea who will play the winner of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in the final on May 19.

Pep Guardiola made four changes to Saturday’s team, sacrificing Dani Alves to play a flat back three of Mascherano, Piqué and Puyol. Adriano, Thiago and Tello were also left out after starting against Madrid bringing back the big names Cesc, Alexis and Piqué and restoring Isaac Cuenca to the right wing. Whatever you thought before the game it was certainly a brave and exciting formation. Chelsea coach Roberto di Matteo played the same XI as in the first leg at Stamford Bridge.

The game began at a great pace. In the third minute Messi and Alexis combined through the middle and but Messi’s shot was with the right foot and hit the side netting. With Cuenca on the right and Iniesta on the left, Fabregas was finding a lot of space supporting Messi and Alexis through the middle, in the 6th minute Messi went past one challenge before slipping a pass to Cesc who played Alexis into the area, Cahill slipped as he covered the threat, causing an injury that saw him subbed off for Bosingwa five minutes later.

We saw in the first leg the danger from Cech’s long kicks up to Drogba and in the 16th minute Drogba chased after another huge kick from the Chelsea keeper, Piqué went with him and got the worst of things as Valdés came steaming out to clear, smashing into both players. Piqué looked very groggy and went off for a minute. Then with Piqué back, in the 19th minute an electric move with Messi and Alexis ended with Cesc flicking the ball through his legs back to Messi who shot low but Cech saved well with his legs and Iniesta’s rebound was cleared. A minute later Cesc was into the area again but his volley went into the side-netting.

A rare counter from Chelsea saw Drogba escape from Piqué before shooting wide from an angle, but Guardiola took it as the sign that Piqué was not fully recovered and brought on Alves in his place. We were still looking very slick in our passing and the constant pressure looked sure to pay off sooner or later. We won a couple of corners on the left, Xavi and Iniesta had shots from distance that didn’t trouble Cech, Terry made a good tackle on Messi on the edge of the area.

The game had been tense and thrilling for 35 minutes, then for the end of the first half it exploded. Cesc won a corner on the right, Xavi swung it over looking for Puyol but the defence headed it clear, the ball was recovered by Alves in a central position 35 yards out, Alves burst forward and as the defence came out to meet him he freed Cuenca inside the area on the left, Cech had to rush out to stop the shot but Cuenca pulled the ball across the goal and Busquets was at the far post to sweep the ball home.

A minute later the Chelsea captain John Terry made an absurd error that will cost him his place in the final, with the ball nowhere near, Terry couldn’t resist giving Alexis a knee in the back of the leg. The linesman spotted it and called the ref and Chelsea were down to ten men. It’s pretty hard for a player to have a worse career moment than Terry suffered when his penalty slip cost Chelsea glory in Moscow in 2008; that miss could be put down to horrible luck, tonight’s action was pure stupidity.

Barça sensed blood and went for the kill. In the 44th minute Alexis sped forward before finding Messi to his left 35 yards out, Iniesta made the run into the area and Messi timed his pass perfectly and Iniesta stroked the ball low past Cech into the far corner. At 2-0 there will be many who thought the tie was now over though Chelsea hit back immediately, and as in the first leg we conceded a crucial goal in first time injury time. Xavi and Iniesta failed to keep the ball as they looked to penetrate and Chelsea broke quickly, Lampard moved into space between Xavi and Busquets, and Mascherano rushed out of the back line to try and intercept, Lampard held off the challenge and slipped the pass into Ramires who spotted the space left by Mascherano, neither Puyol nor Busquets could get across quickly enough and Ramires sent a cool chip over the advanced Valdés. Two-one. Half time.

A goal just before half time is always a big blow but Barça still had everything in favour to get through. Cuenca moved to the left for the second half with Alves supplying the width on the right  and Chelsea played deeper and deeper with all nine outfield players often back on the edge of the area. It didn’t look like we’d have problems to create chances when Iniesta shot from inside the area in the 47th minute but his shot was deflected wide.

Then in the 48th minute Fabregas played a quick one-two with Messi on the right of the area and Drogba who played for long periods in the left back position brought Cesc down. It was again the linesman who saw it and he signalled to the ref who awarded the penalty. It was Messi’s moment, his chance to take the Champions League record to 15 goals in a season. Perhaps it was down to Cech’s intimidating size that caused Messi to shoot high, whatever the case, Messi’s shot crashed against the crossbar and something seemed to happen to our belief.

Alexis had a far post header from an Alves cross go wide but the game was beginning to look complicated and memories of ten-man Inter two years ago began to creep in. Drogba now popped up`at right back to rob Cuenca and then after getting past Puyol almost scored an incredible goal from the half-way line as Valdés had to move quickly and dive to save.

Cuenca had a chance in the 62nd minute after good work from Messi and Iniesta opened the space but Cech was again big in his goal and Cuenca’s shot went straight at the Chelsea keeper. Guardiola put on Tello for Cuenca and then Keita for Fabregas but the chances were fewer now as Chelsea grew, encouraged by a couple of forays into the Barça half that almost took advantage of our sparse defence.

But Barça kept insisting, trying to find holes in the packed defence. In the 78th minute Iniesta sent a deep cross towards Alves, the ball bounced down to Busquets, 15 yards out,  but he was leaning back as he shot and the ball flew over. Torres came on for Drogba who, despite some of his play-acting, it must be said played a magnificent role for his team.

Into the last ten minutes and the tension was unbearable. In the 81st minute Alexis had the ball in the net after Alves’s cross but the linesman had spotted Alves half a yard offside. Then Messi came alive to get in a shot from just outside the area but Cech managed to get a fingertip to send the ball against the base of the post. It was the fourth time over the two games that we hit the Chelsea woodwork.

As time ran out we got more desperate, Mascherano had a long shot saved and from the resulting corner Puyol headed over. In one final attack we pushed everybody so far forward that when Cole cleared from within the Chelsea area the ball came to Torres all alone and onside as he started his run from the Chelsea half. Valdés came out but Torres skipped past him to score into the empty net.

We can be critical of Chelsea’s defensive formation but they played the second half very well. Veteran players like Drogba, Cech and Lampard who have come so close in the past can now have one more attempt to lift the Champions League. Tonight they played key roles in their sides victory and we shouldn’t begrudge them their moment.

It’s been an incredibly tough and disappointing week for culés. Losing a Liga to Madrid and getting knocked out of the Champions League to three injury time goals just doesn’t seem right after all the tremendous work from Guardiola and the players this season. However, the reaction from the Camp Nou public, singing support for the team after Chelsea’s second goal was extremely heartening and should be remembered as a beautiful moment.

olele olala, ser del Barça es, el millor que hi ha!

Barça: Valdes 6; Mascherano 6, Piqué 6 (Alves m26, 6.5), Puyol 6; Busquets 6.5, Xavi 6, Fabregas 7 (Keita m74, 6); Cuenca 6.5 (Tello m67, 6), Alexis 7, Messi 6.5, Iniesta 7.

Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill (Bosingwa m12), Terry, Cole; Meireles, Mikel, Lampard, Ramires, Mata (Kalou m58); Drogba (Torres m80)

Goals: m36 Busquets 1-0, m44 Iniesta 2-0, m45+1 Ramires 2-1, m92 Torres 2-2

Yellow cards: m32 Mikel, m45 Ramires, m59 Cech, m71 Messi, m72 Lampard, m89 Meireles.

Red card: m37 Terry

Attendance: 95,845

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15 Responses to Champions League semi-final 2nd leg: FC Barcelona 2 Chelsea 2 (Chelsea win 2-3 on aggregate))

  1. layibiyi says:

    the fans made my day. I can imagine how the players must feel for not being able to please the fans even further by taking us to the second consecutive champions league final.

    Story of the season: not in top gear at the key moments of the season. That’s what it is

  2. bc9jaCulé says:

    I really don’t know where or how to start. What a terrible week for culés all over the world. At the end of it all, it just wasn’t meant to be, but here are my personal talking points:

    In the match preview, I emphasized that @ least 2 of our defenders must always remain @ the back, right in front of Valdez, but alas, despite going 2 goals up (which meant the tie was in our hands), there’s just no rational justification for our defenders to be caught out in the midfield. Why the high line of defence? They should have allowed Chelsea to attack us. We GIFTED them too much space behind our defence while we toiled & laboured to CREATE space behind theirs. We were playing a 4-man midfield and Messi sometimes drop deep to make it 5 so, we had more than enough men there already. What then were Puyol & Masche always doing in the midfield leaving VV all @ sea, knowing fully well that they lacked the pace to cover up in case of a through ball?????!!!!! The same thing happened in the Drogba goal in the first leg, the Ronaldo goal @ the weekend & now AGAIN, the Ramires goal. I’m disappointed Guardiola didn’t pick this up from our back-to-back losses. I blame our exit PRINCIPALLY on our defensive tactics & structure in both legs. How could Chelsea score on us from almost all the little chances they created. This is the semi-final of the CL for crying out loud!!!!! I know Messi should have buried that penalty too but the pressure played a factor because of the DIRE NEED to score the goal and the crossbar decided to be Chelsea’s 12th player in both legs. Quite unfortunate!!!!!

    Most annoyingly, I still can’t figure why Xavi started the game. I also highlighted this issue in my preview post. Can you imagine? Xavi had twenty-something passes more than the whole Chelsea team, none of which was a through ball or a defence paralyzing pass/lob. In fact, almost 200 USELESS passes. He wasn’t even involved in any of our goals either. I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again. Xavi’s not needed against teams playing ultradefensively. He just ‘DULLS’ our attack — that’s all he does against defensive teams. Don’t get it twisted, Xavi’s a fantastic player but gets crippled against such setups.

    Lastly, we need to start training on taking shots from outside the box instead of ALWAYS looking for a through ball or trying to pass the ball into the net because we got into many shooting positions especially in the last 20mins of the game but we lacked the orientation to shoot from outside the box. And, I understand being true with the tiki-taka style but in complex & critical situations like yesterday’s, we need to mix it up a bit. No-one eats a particular meal everyday of the year simply because it’s their favourite — it’s just not done, not anywhere!!!!!

    End of rant. Pardon me, I’ll always love this club/team no matter what but I had to pour out every word as I’ve seen it. Once a culé, always a CULÉ.

    Visca Barça!!!!!
    Força Barça!!!!!

    • layibiyi says:

      I guess we should sell xavi off then since we play ultra defensive teams 90% of the time, right?

      • bc9jaCulé says:

        I didn’t say we should sell Xavi, fellow culé. The truth is that ultra defensive teams abandon the midfield for us and close up passing channels by clogging up their defensive wall. So, they let us have the ball for as long as we so desire. And since Xavi with his boring passing figures will almost certainly look for the safe pass (sideways in most cases) instead of daring to take risks, his possession/passing becomes very predictable & harmless. Whereas, Ini & Fab have the dribbling skills required to take risks and venture forward to create direct scoring chances. So, instead of starting him in all such encounters, he can come from the bench in the 60th/70th minute to close out the game especially when we’re winning already. What I’m saying is; Xavi thrives much better against teams that press high up the pitch &play open football. Get my drift?

  3. barcacentralomer says:

    Disappointment, disappointment and more disappointment is how I’d describe the last three matches and this match in particular where Barca just failed to raise their game to the lofty standards we have gotten used to over the past 4 years. I know Pep is being loyal to his players and perhaps I’d do the same if I was in his place but deep down even he knows that the Barca we all know just didn’t turn up in these games. Yes Chelsea (in both the legs esp the second) and Real came in with a plan and executed theirs as intended (or most of it) but Barca couldn’t produce the goals when they mattered most. I don’t know if its me but certain players like Xavi and Messi just didn’t seem to have the right body lanaguage in these games. Xavi and Messi both looked jaded. I think Pep and Co. will figure out where we went wrong this season and they’ll work on not repeating the same mistakes this season.

    However, we’ve seen these things before (CL exits and La Liga losses) and while they’re tough, we know that they will happen again, we will recover from them and come back stronger.

    @ Nic: Now that we’ve lost La Liga and the CL campaign, wouldn’t it be a good idea to blood some more youngsters in the remaining La Liga fixtures. It’d also give our first team members the much needed rest and time to recover from these disappointments and be ready to take on Bilbao in the Copa final. I’d especially like to see Valdes being rested bcos he’s been terrible in his decision-making of late and maybe the rest will do him some good.

  4. wikd14 says:

    Hard luck fellow Cules but this is not the end of our Era, this team can do more and better on for the years to come.

    Yesterday, was a disappointment parking the bus football won over our style; everyone were devastated fans and players alike.

    Pep did his best with the team he had but luck was not on our side and Pique got injured again. Many can argue about Cuenca starting up and not delivering well in the 2nd half but he did the first goal assist and had a decent 1st half compared to Tello against Madrid. Pedro is not at his best at all but I hoped he would be subbed in for Cuenca as we needed his luck in front of the goal.

    Our fellow Cules at the stadium need a salute for their support for their cheering after the result. You rarely see that in football.

    I trust this team and I liked the team’s press conference Iniesta’s words were great.

    I wish that Pep continues and get more funds to have 1-2 defenders as the injuries have hammered our team badly this year, especially, the back four.

    We need to rest the team until the Copa Del Rey final; even if we lose the Copa del Rey final my support will remain strong. The season is not over.

    Great job Nic 🙂

    Visca Barça!!!!!
    Força Barça!!!!!

  5. Fredegar says:

    My God that hurts. I mean that physically hurts. You would have thought that being a Blaugrana for some 15 years I should have learnt to take the punches, but this one is a really hard blow. I was discussing yesterday my best football memories, so today I can say that this nightmare surpasses the one we suffered against Juve in 2003…
    What really frustrates me is the Ramires’ goal. How could we let that happen? Against ten men, 30 secs from half time, and we leave them such an avenue? Unforgivable. 2-0 at halftime, the game would have been buried, there was no way for Chels to come back, but no we let them take the lead back. For me that’s the real turning point of the tie…
    Apart from that we played ok, although I wonder why we didn’t try to create more on the wings in the end. Alves or Tello were receiving balls in “space”, but they had no support and not the guts to take on their man, so they went back to the center of the pitch, again and again… Why not try to overload a wing once to try and draw Chelsea’s defenders? Messi’s penalty miss, well… He gave us so much that it’s impossible to be angry. But it must be said that in this decisive week, he looked well below his par, so maybe he has to learn something of it and stop insisting playing every game and have a rest sometimes. The same must be said of the team in general. Xavi looked completely burnt, Alexis totally disappeared in the last twenty mins, even Alves didn’t seem to be his usual machine… There are lessons to be taken from this week in terms of team fitness management and of team structure. While Cuenca did just ok, Tello was of no use. I love that we give chances to some of our young players and I certainly don’t want to blame them for this loss, but the fact that we had to rely so much on them in the most important week of the year and that they at least partly felt to deliver is to take into account when planning for the next years.
    We definitely should have won this tie and have only ourselves to blame for not doing so. While losing to Madrid hurt a lot, losing to a far inferior Chelsea side is worse by a degree. I was still chanting el “Cant del Barça” in my pub with the Camp Nou after Torres’ goal…

  6. PHaft says:

    Lets give credit where credit is due. Much respect to Real Madrid and Chelsea for ending Barcas season. The better team won both of the last 2 games. Barca played like a tired team, with no plan B. Management needs to rest the team this offseason, buy 1-2 defenders and 1-2 proven goal scorers, and give Messi some help. We cant win them all. I think the American tour this past offseason really hurt our overall fitness levels at this point in the season. And, I was on the sideline in Miami vs. Chivas! Even with that wonderful experience, I think it has led to fatigue, and it really showed in Messi and the boys. That jaded look in their faces, no one running off the ball looking for space, the lack of speed in the passing game. While it sucks, we have to lose, to appreciate winning.

  7. FCB-Parbo says:

    I don’t know what to say I’m stil sad. When they tease me I just keep calm and say “next time better luck” to avoid a discussion, coz it still hurts. Even the best team can’t always win. And judging by the way the games have been played by the opposition, I can say we are still the best of them all. What they do is defend with 10 men in front of their goal. They don’t have the guts to play real football. I know, I know it’s all in the game. As they all say: It’s not nice football, but it’s effective for them. Love Barça today, tomorrow and forever. That’s all.

    Visca Barça!!!!!

  8. Bo reason to give Chelsea credit for our failure to capitalize on thoroughly dominating them. Even take away messi shocking misses and this was one of his worst games ever. 6.5 is really charitable. I don’t hold the poor offensive performance against messi. Not after how many goals he’s scored.

    Does anyone else find it interesting that in messis record breaking season we’ve failed to win the two biggest competitions we were in? We need to find more balance in attack. Messi can score a lot but our second leading scorer needs to have a lot more goals. Personally I think the system is playing to messi too much making us to predictable. When cesc sanchez or dani alves get the ball from messi who will they pass it to? I’d love to see some percentages on that.

    It makes sense to want messi to have the ball but when other teams know what’s coming not only is it bad for the team but it actually makes life harder for messi.

    I asked this question earlier and don’t think it was answered: is messi so good that he doesn’t have to play defense as hard as the other players on the team?

    Anyway I’m not in the crises boat. We played better than Chelsea. With even a modicum of luck we go through quite easily. We don’t need major changes in the off season. We shouldn’t feel bad about Cuenca tello and thiago playing. They’re not getting anything they haven’t earned.

    Pep is still the man from the job and I think he picked an amazing line up for this game.

    Any other team in the world would love to be in our place with our team and our youth system.

    Força barça!!!

  9. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    am absolutely gutted to be honest!!! I have mentioned sooooo mannnny times in here, we should have given Leo Messi a rest as much as we could against weaker teams when we had a comfortable lead. Nobody in here agreed right!!?? So is it worth it now??? Leo looked jaded when we needed him the most! To be exact, his penalty miss and his lost of possession in the first leg resulted into our departure from the Champions League. What now?? Yah, i know we don’t need defenders right? We need Jordi Alba to combine down that left wing/channel, we need another 20 more attack minded players and playmakers right???

    We need a CENTRAL DEFENDER???? WE NEED A REAL GOOD ONE…SOMEONE LIKE THIAGO SILVA or Thiago Silva himself…..and we need him fast!! Ramires had a breeze past Puyol for the first. Isn’t that a good enough sign?? Pique is not going to be at his best for a long time as long as Shakira and his ‘other sort of priorities besides football’ takes centre stage.

    We also should take the rest of the games as a golden opprtunity to give Batra, Muniesa, Montoya, Tello, Thiago, Dos Santos, Pedro, Affallay, Cuenca and David Villa a good run of games. Some of these players will have to be sold if they fail to show any sort of improvement on the pitch. Its time to trim down the numbers especially in attack. and midfield. 2-3 players will have to leave in the summer. We have too many players in some positions surely.

    LEO MESSI SHOULD be given a massive rest. He should just be required to attend general fitness training and thats it. Maybe field him in Copa Del Rey final. The guy needs a break. Its best to preserve our best player whenever we can for the good of the next season and seasons to come.

  10. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    I really hope the technical team does a massive job in deciding who stays and who doesn’t. We have to sell 2-3 players in attack and midfield positions, invest in 1 or two more good defenders (183 cm tall and above pls) and have a good pre season. From now, till season end will be a critical time for the technical team, and members of the coaching team led by Tito and Pep. We have to be more decisive in our purchase of players….Spend money correctly, and not be wasteful in terms of resources!

    Either one of David Villa(due to age), Pedro, Keita(age factor) Afellay, Cuenca, Tello or J.Dos Santos has to leave.

    We should try to recruite Hummels, Thiago Silva, Verthongen(CB/LB), or Adil Rami to beef up our defence.

    Besides a defender or 2 if we have the posiibility of purchasing a good target man will be great as well, one who has a physical presence such as Cavani or Falcao will be awesome. It would be awesome to have a dependable and consistant goal raper up front to share the goalscoring duties of leo Messi.

  11. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    As someone above mentioned, we certainly have to tweak our system a little. Messi is great and all…but there needs to be someone else who could step up in goalscoring duties. Any team on earth should never ever depend on 1 MAN to score time and time again. The team should look for Messi frequently, but certainly NOT EVERY TIME. We need that 2nd option that we could look to. So far, i’m not convinced with the goal scoring abilities of Sanchez. Sanchez is good, but certainly, i don’t see the Goal Machine in him. Damn, i miss David Villa. David Villa at his best would be perfect for us,….i can’t wait to see him play. I hope he still is as good as he was when he newly arrived.

    Among all the players Pep purchased, i feel Mascherano is the BEST BUY. 2nd on the list is David Villa who came good in the first half of the season right after purchase(combined awesomely with Messi during that period on a consistant basis). Sanchez is just so so. I love Adriano’s sudden forward runs, but man the guy needs to imporove alot in terms of positioning and defending. Fabregas is also a very mediocre buy considering the hassle we went through to purchase him. He did combine well with Messi, but like David Villa, this only lasted for the first 15 games of the season(I WONDER WHY??).

    The rest of the purchases have been terrible!!!

  12. John Sewell says:

    This result is the biggest injustice I have ever seen in 52 years of watching football!
    Sometimes your name is on the cup and Chelsea have had a season full of good fortune in this competition. To have lost to an inferior team that caught us on the break is a bitter pill to swallow……

  13. mjmare says:

    Well, we must now start the preparations for next season. Messi loves to play and hates being left out and maybe that is a factor as to why he always plays and finishes game, but i do agree with the majority that he needs to rest and recuperate.

    It would be the perfect time to give some youngsters experience in the first division. players like Rafa, Delofeu, Gomez, Bartra, Dongu, Muniesa, Grimaldo…

    The lack of a plan B has cost us, So it didn’t work out with Ibra, but we need to change things up as the technical team knows that 90% of the teams we face will defend with 10 men, we need to be more decisive with the chances we get, and work on a system that can break through stubborn defences, Get players like Iniesta and Sanchez into the positions and give them the support that Messi receives so that when Messi an’t get through there are other options that might work better…

    I don’t think much will happen in the summer, We already have Montoya, Bartra, Munisa and JDS joining the fist team next year, so I think the checkbook will be closed.

    We will be back!!!

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