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UEFA Champions League: FC Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea FC: Match Review


What a week. First we had the initial loss to Chelsea, which was followed by a Liga ending defeat at home to Real Madrid, and now this, elimination from the UEFA Champions League. Losing two trophies in a week was never going to be fun, but the manner with which they have been conceded leaves a bitter taste. That hammer-blow of a goal from Cristiano Ronaldo was bad enough, but tonight was far worse. After taking the lead through Sergio Busquets, Barcelona looked on course for a comeback aggregate win, and when Andres Iniesta doubled that advantage before half-time, you couldn’t help but get carried away. Considering that Chelsea were down to 10 men after John Terry’s stupid knee on Alexis Sanchez, Barca seemed as good as in the final. But it wasn’t to be. Ramires pulled one back on the stroke of half-time, meaning that Barcelona needed to find a goal from somewhere in that second half. When Cesc Fabregas was adjudged to have been fouled in the area, it once again seemed like the Blaugrana were a step away from the final. But then Lionel Messi’s effort crashed off the crossbar and from there on, Barca were fighting a losing battle. One goal was correctly ruled out for offside before Petr Cech made a super-human save to deny Messi. Then, in injury time to add insult to injury, substitute Fernando Torres sealed the deal scoring a breakaway equaliser. There is to be no final in Munich for FC Barcelona.






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Pep Guardiola’s team selection wasn’t entirely surprising given the task ahead of the team, although Isaac Cuenca’s selection ahead of both Dani Alves and Pedro certainly raised an eyebrow or two somewhere in the world. Overall, it was four changes from the 2-1 loss to Real Madrid, with Alexis Sanchez, Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique all returning to the starting line-up.

Barcelona started well, with Lionel Messi firing into the side netting after a wall pass, but Chelsea also started well, dropping deep without any major concerns. Gary Cahill was a colossus in the first leg, but within 11 minutes he had to be taken off after slipping on the Camp Nou turf and seemingly over-stretching his hamstring. Jose Bosingwa was his replacement.

At the other end of the pitch Chelsea were worrying the Barca defense with long balls, and one particular long ball caused a lot of problems as Valdes rushed from goal to clear the danger, clattering into Gerard Pique in the process. It was a nasty (and entirely unintentional) hit, as Pique was hit full-on by Valdes’ hip and looked to be out for the count as he heading to the turf. A hefty landing certainly didn’t do him any favours and surprisingly, after lengthy medical treatment on the sidelines, he walked back onto the field.

Barcelona had a couple of shots in the next five minutes of the match with Leo Messi and Cesc Fabregas combining beautifully to bamboozle the Blues defense before the Argentine had his low shot saved by Cech. However, despite returning to the field of action, it became clear that Pique was in no fit state to continue and he was replaced by Dani Alves and left for the hospital to stay under observation. Luckily, according to sources around the club, Geri is not carrying an injury, and therefore must be in contention to start on Sunday night.

36 minutes on the clock though and Barcelona were in front. A corner kick wasn’t properly cleared by the Chelsea defense (despite the supposed Barca weakness from set pieces) and the ball found its way to Dani Alves on the edge of the area. For a dark and depressing moment it looked like he was winding up for a shot, but thankfully thought better of it and played in Andres Iniesta on the left-hand side. Iniesta’s low cross found its way through an ocean of defenders and to the most unlikely of scorers: Sergio Busquets who tapped the ball home for his first goal of the season.

Then John Terry got sent off for kneeing Alexis Sanchez in the small of the back (yeah, I know, it is pretty weird) and Barcelona got a second. Lionel Messi threaded a pass down the left for Iniesta who slotted home past Petr Cech. At 2-0 up, all seemed rosy, until Ramires struck in injury time. It was a simple move, born after a simple pass, and while Ramires made the finish look simple, it was anything but. His delightful chip over Valdes was similar to a Messi goal from earlier in the season, and crucially it was an away goal. As it stood, Chelsea were heading through.

Worst of all, at no stage in that second half did that fact change. Lionel Messu’s penalty miss will dominate the headlines, but Leo has never been the best penalty taker and we cannot hold that against him, although unfortunately some will still do that. Really, after Cesc’s questionable fall in the area to win the penalty, I think a penalty miss spared us a whole bunch of UEFAlona conspiracies. As time wore on, Chelsea dropped deeper and deeper, and despite utilising all of his subs, Guardiola’s team couldn’t find a way through the Chelsea defense. Sanchez did score, but the goal was ruled out correctly for offside on Alves, while Messi did hit the post after a magnificent save from Cech. It wasn’t to be, and as if we needed further proof, the fact that Torres scored on the counter attack in injury time added insult to injury. As it stands, Barcelona will have to settle for three trophies this season, with one still left to realistically play for (the Copa del Rey). No matter what, I am still proud of this team, especially considering the pre-season (or lack thereof). From that moment, despite the Supercopa victory, we were always facing an uphill battle, and this season at least we have fallen just short of the finishing line. Just to get this close was a monumental achievement. Anyway, next up is Rayo Vallecano on Sunday, and for those still feeling downhearted, here’s a video that’s guaranteed to make you smile!

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