FC Barcelona drew Chelsea as their opponents in the first knockout stage of the UEFA Champions League. The two have a bit of a European rivalry thanks in large part due to iconic meetings over the past decade. Here are the reasons the two share this rivalry:
Barcelona’s Big Moment
In the 2005-06 Champions League, Barcelona went through Chelsea in the last 16. The Blaugrana won the first leg, at Stamford Bridge, 2-1 thanks to a late Samuel Eto’o goal. In the return leg, Ronaldinho put the hosts ahead 3-1 on aggregate, before Frank Lampard scored the consolation goal for Chelsea, to finish the aggregate at 3-2. Barcelona would go on to win their first European Cup / Champions League since 1992, their second overall.
Tom Henning Øvrebø was the referee of the second leg match between Barcelona and Chelsea in 2009. The first leg had ended 0-0, so everything was to be decided in London. The Norwegian referee turned down four penalty appeals for Chelsea and unjustly sent off Eric Abidal for Barça. While not all of Chelsea’s appeals were stonewall penalties, a couple did in fact seem to be. And his sending off of Abidal was baffling. Didier Drogba famously qualified the referee’s performance as a “f—-ing disgrace.”
Iniesta’s Last Gasp Winner
AKA “And it’s Iniestaaaaaa!” After the first leg ended 0-0, Chelsea went up at home 1-0 through a Michael Essien goal in the second. Ten-man Barcelona had to chase the game, but they were able to progress on away goals thanks to a fantastic Andrés Iniesta strike with almost the last kick of the game, which made the match end 1-1.
Chelsea avenged their two knockouts against Barça in 2012, when the Blues eliminated Barcelona on their way to their first Champions League title ever. Chelsea won 1-0 at Stamford Bridge, and in the return they managed a 2-2 draw.
The Messi Factor
Lionel Messi has never scored against Chelsea in seven full matches and one substitute appearance. Of course, four of those came when Messi was still very young, but the streak is a bit of an anomaly given how often the player hits the net. Chelsea want to keep that streak going, but many other such “anti-Messi” streaks have crumbled. His droughts against Manuel Neuer, Petr Cech, and Gianluigi Buffon were a discussion point... until they weren’t. Will that happen again?