Live: Barça vs. Chelsea

Line-ups are in. Torres to the pine; Drogba up top. No Pique for Barca.


Alves and Barca "victorious" in 2009

Yes, today has Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich. Is there a doubt that Mourinho still has the chops to get the Munich into the Champion’s League Final? Not really.

Tomorrow is the main event. Chelsea vs. Barcelona and Dani Alves had this to say in the Guardian about the 2009 semi-final second leg–a 1-1 draw at the death–that saw Barca through to face United in Rome.

“Chelsea did not reach the final because of fear. The team that has got a man more, is playing at home and winning should have attacked us more. But of course, if you don’t have that [attacking] concept of football that Barcelona have, you stay back and you get knocked out. You have to go forward. Stay back: losers. Go forward: winners. I think Chelsea lacked the courage to take a step forward and attack us. They paid for it.”

More from Alves here.

In that match, there were dubious foul calls on both sides with Chelsea dropping to 10 men and Didier Drogba looking to go fisticuffs with the refs at the exit. TSG of course will remember that match for the wonder strike from Michael Essien in what sadly seems as the pinnacle of the Ghanian’s career that thereafter robbed by knee injuries and surgeries.

34 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/04/17 at 8:38 AM

    Long time Chelsea supporter but I don’t see them having a snowballs chance tomorrow. When you”re bunkering in with Sideshow Bob as the last line of defense it doesn’t matter whether its Wigan or Barca….
    Your Essien remembrance brought a tear to my eye. So hard to watch him now as a diminished presence when you know what he could do when healthy.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/04/17 at 8:44 AM

      Very upsetting. Which is why I don’t hold out hope for Stu holden as much. I’ll be pleasantly surprised if he is dominant again.

      Knees injuries are the kryptonite of midfielders. They have to do such lateral movement that it really puts a wear on them.

      Ah, Essien. Perhaps my favorite player ever to watch since my personal game is cut more from a defensive mentality.


  2. Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/04/17 at 8:44 AM

    Hard to believe that was 3yrs ago…the best is the shot of the manager after the goal and it takes you a minute to place his face….waith Guus Hiddink was in there in the last 5 yrs?…Roman, Roman, Roman….


  3. Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/04/17 at 8:51 AM

    Dani Alves is a dbag btw. Regardless of abilities…just a flat out dbag…got that off my chest.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/04/17 at 8:58 AM

      he talks above his game. Great player. But Juan Vargas would be just as good as him in Barca’s system.


    • Posted by Jared on 2012/04/17 at 9:21 AM

      There’s quite a few guys like that on the Barca team. Alves doesn’t hold a candle to Busquets in that category though. Busquets is everything that is wrong with the game today. He fouls cynically to stop opponent’s attacks then goes down like he’s been shot whenever he’s even breathed on while looking through his hands to make sure the guy has been booked.

      This might be the matchup that includes the most unlikeable players in the sport when you factor in guys like Terry, Drogba and Lampard.


  4. Everyone has already written Chelsea off but they certainly have the ability to put together the performance to trouble Barcelona. They’ve always given them a good game in this competition and I think it will be another case of razor thin margins. I expect to go to Nou Camp with the lead in this one.

    The key to defending against Barcelona is to drop deep and keep it narrow, defend the center of the park, concede the wide areas and let them try to hurt you with crosses. If Pep starts with a wide player, don’t make Milan’s second leg mistake and get stretched – let them attack your strength and clear out the crosses. Luiz could’ve been amazing in this match but Cahill can do the primary job that will be asked just as well. Ivanovic and Cole’s decision-making will be key. Chelsea’s back four can be as solid as they have been in all their meeting against Barcelona. It’s probably Mikel and Meireles that start at the base of midfield.

    The key to attacking Barca is to quickly switch the point of attack away from their pressure and to get players behind their fullbacks. Torres needs to start and the type of defensive work he’s done dropping into midfield to pressure will be required. You’ve got to disrupt the metronome, Sergio Busquets. When Chelsea win the ball, Torres should look to run behind Puyol, with Ramirez doing his usual roadrunner performance shuttling from a slightly deeper position than he played against Tottenham providing width so Ivanovic can stay at home.

    On the left flank, Mata should drift out from a central position to camp out behind Dani Alves when Chelsea are defending and create chances with early diagonal balls. Whoever starts wide left will have a lot of defensive work to do. I’m assuming Kalou will start but Sturridge could be a good game-changing late sub if Barcelona are pressing for a goal. Alves is usually playing as a winger by then.

    There’s your cheat-sheet RDM. Blue is the color.


    • Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/04/17 at 10:58 AM


      Usually bow down at your insight but did you really say that “Luiz could have been amazing in this one” above? Not sure which Luiz you’re referring to but if its the one with the hair that has between 3-5 brainless moments a game I’m a bit concerned. Where have you seen him be amazing this year?
      The players that you call out above, besides Mata, have not shown much class at the EPL level this year let alone the reigning world’s best.
      Don’t think it will be a joke but could see a 3-1 scoreline.


      • Just because the commentators say it over and over again doesn’t mean it’s not wrong.

        Luiz has taken risks against lesser opposition this season and Chelsea were made to pay. Under AVB, his risktaking was encouraged, there was no plan to maintain defensive solidity (no defensive midfielder?) and Luiz has such a hunger to win, he sometimes seemed like he was trying to do it solo. When reigned in a little, he was often exceptional against the top tier.

        Under RDM there has been less risk-taking, a plan to deal with his forward forays, and it has shown in our defensive record with Luiz in the team. Also, he’s much more suited to the CL style of play than the Premier League. He would’ve rocked this match.

        In a season or two everyone will be talking about Luiz as the best center back in the world. There’s a reason why Barcelona are rumoured to want him. Don’t confuse tactics with ability. Luiz is total class.


        • Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/04/17 at 12:27 PM

          Watched a lot of before and after of him in the side and I’m afraid I don’t see what you are seeing. Fine flashes of form but far too numbskulled for this level IMO. That one or two mistakes is what separates quality at this level. I’m trying to think of a player with those kind of gaps in his game that matured to “best CB in world” in one or two yrs.


        • Posted by Jared on 2012/04/17 at 1:05 PM

          Hunger to win is a nice way of putting the crazy moves that Luiz routinely pulls.

          Barca want him because they defend from the opponent’s 18. He’d be very good in their system because they don’t defend at all in the style of Chelsea or anyone in England. That doesn’t mean that he hasn’t been terrible in England.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/04/18 at 4:14 AM

          I agree 100% with staying defensively compact, and conceding wide areas to achieve this. Obviously over two legs it is not quite as ‘straightforward’, and I cannot see Chelsea keeping Barcelona out for 180 minutes.
          Basically, this is a classic example of not necessarily having to have possession of the ball and it is important what you do without the ball. It will be a very very pragmatic approach.
          My only concern is what Chelsea do if they go behind, especially when they get to the Nou Camp. What is their Plan B or C?

          Re. Luis, and the ‘tactics and ability’ comment, where does decision making come into this? Or do you put that down to (relative) inexperience and youth? You have to admit, he’s not the best about staying on his feet and not diving in. Either way, it will be important for the CBs not to go walk about and follow Pedro when he drops deep. Cole vs Messi is going to be very interesting.
          Could be a moot point, saw that Luiz is doubtful tonight.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/04/17 at 11:22 AM

      Welcome back Tuesday. Completely agree on defending narrow. Defending wide nearly every team has tried and Xavi, Iniesta just pick them apart with offball runs from outwide or down the middle.

      One thing that I thought Milan did a decent job of and I’m not sure why a team wouldn’t at least try it more frequently is keep Messi off his left foot. So much of Barca’s attack (from what I’ve seen) seems to be almost like Messi going to back door after a midfielder has stepped up on Xavi, Cesc, or Iniesta or even Alves and attacking while another defender is occupied.

      Milan did a great job of literally defending the spine and saying you can come to hashmark Messi and that is all or you’re using your right foot. Seemed highly effective to me. I joked that Milan effectively played a 4-2-1-1-1-1 against Barca give how central they were.

      For Chelsea I think you have to go over the top to Drogba OR (and I wrote this about Robinho before the second leg) check into that spot the Barca has has vacated…with Mata as you suggest. I have no idea how you do that though.


  5. Posted by John Henry on 2012/04/17 at 11:19 AM

    To all the Barca lovers, enjoy:


  6. Posted by matthewsf on 2012/04/17 at 11:39 AM

    • Posted by gino744 on 2012/04/17 at 8:57 PM

      This is why Messi will always be a rung above Ronaldo. Messi plays through the whistle while CR plays for the whistle.


    • Posted by dude on 2012/04/18 at 11:40 AM

      Wish they showed this to all the Argentine children. This is your idol? Prove it.


  7. Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/04/17 at 12:15 PM

    Bayern look solid. Ribery on form is just a fantastic player to watch. And Pepe has still yet to foul anyone in his entire career. Just ask him.


  8. Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/04/17 at 12:17 PM

    Does Alonzo get an extra 3 hard fouls before he gets a card? I don’t remember his being this much of a scumbag with LPool. Hard man with a nice game but he has become the DeJongg of Spain in my book.


  9. Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/04/17 at 1:06 PM

    Strange sub of Schweinie there especially since Kroos has been pretty weak and turnover prone. Must be a fitness issue


  10. Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/04/17 at 1:39 PM

    Gomez! Scores on a fine piece of bull in china shop work.
    Lamm has been nasty out wide today.

    And once again RM are rewarded for fouling on every play…amazing that a quality ref like Webb cant see through this nonsense.


  11. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/04/18 at 4:31 AM

    Fox showing this game on their parent channel.


  12. Posted by dth on 2012/04/18 at 11:56 AM

    Barca’s right/Chelsea’s left is the most intriguing matchup in this tie.


  13. Posted by EFG on 2012/04/18 at 12:05 PM

    Here’s a fun at work activity. Reverse rank the 22 players on the field from worst to best of the Chelsea and Barca players. It gets pretty slanted one way.


    • Posted by dth on 2012/04/18 at 12:30 PM

      Oh, fun!

      1. Ivanovic
      2. Cahill.
      3. Adriano
      4. Mikel
      5. Lampard
      6. Terry
      7. Valdes
      8. Meireles
      9. Cech
      10. Drogba
      11. Mascherano
      12. Sanchez
      13. Ramires
      14. Busquets
      15. Mata
      17. Fabregas
      18. Cole.
      19. Alves
      20. Iniesta
      21. Xavi.
      22. Duh.


      • Posted by EFG on 2012/04/18 at 12:42 PM

        We (my friends and I) came up with this:

        22) Valdes (Barca)
        21) Mikel (Chelsea)
        20) Cahill (Chelsea)
        19) Meireles (Chelsea)
        18) Ramires (Chelsea)
        17) Terry (Chelsea)
        16) Ivanovic (Chelsea)
        15) Macherano (Barca)
        14) Cech (Chelsea)
        13) Adriano (Barca)
        12) Lampard (Chelsea)
        11) Cole (Chelsea)
        10) Alves (Barca)
        9) Drogba (Chelsea)
        8) Sanchez (Barca)
        7) Busquets (Barca)
        6) Puyol (Barca)
        5) Mata (Chelsea)
        4) Fabregas (Barca)
        3) Iniesta (Barca)
        2) Xavi (Barca)
        1) Messi (Barca)


  14. Posted by Jared on 2012/04/19 at 7:29 AM

    That was Champions League soccer at its worst last night. Hopefully Barca will be able to overturn the result. Chelsea had very little ambition and it would be a shame if they were rewarded for parking the bus over 2 legs. Are we sure that Mourinho ever really left because that was a performance he would be proud to call his own.

    Drogba’s constant injury faking was ridiculous. He would have fit in on the Barca side.


    • Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/04/19 at 2:18 PM

      Have to agree on rewatch that was a bit like a midseason Stoke Man U game. Chelsea fan but a huge admirer of Barca’s approach to the game and was a bit shocked at the result. Something about 10 men actually playing soccer as a finely tuned instrument that is just a pleasure to watch.
      It’s a tribute of sorts I guess that even Sir Alex packed it in on them in the finals.


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