There is nothing better then a Champions League match-up. Let alone, a semi-final match between Chelsea and Barcelona that is tied at 0 after a scoreless draw in Spain 2 weeks ago. Dubbed “Beauty and the Beast”, for the contrasting styles of play the outcome could of been decided by a coin flip and it pretty much was.
In the UEFA Champions League, you are rewarded for away goals. This meant, that if Barcelona scored 1 goal in London at Chelsea’s home turf, it essentially counts for 2. So if the score ended 1-1 or 2-2, Barcelona would of went through on away goals. The Federation does this to try to bribe away sides from packing it in and playing for the 0-0 draw. It usually works.
Chelsea is an athletic, powerful, physical team. A kind of 3 yards and a cloud of dust team. Love to smash volleys, head in restarts, and score on quick, aggressive counterattacks. Barcelona is “The Beautiful Game” or “Total Football” in a nutshell. Barca loves to thread the needle, possess the ball until the defense gets lazy, and then combination pass behind and for a goal. The Catalans were coming off putting 6 goals up against bitter rival Real Madrid last Saturday.
With the contrasting styles of play, it would be foolish to bet on this game. It would come down to whoever could impose their will on the other for the entire 90+ minutes. Chelsea, true to form, raced up and down the pitch from the opening whistle. Micael Essien volleyed home one of the best goals you will ever see. Boosting Chelsea to a 1-0 lead in the 9th minute.
Chelsea then retreated to their own half, often with 9 or 10 men behind the ball. Barcelona controlled, actually dominated, possesion but lacked a real scoring chance. The giant Chelsea defenders made life a living hell for exciting Barca forwards’ Eto’o and Messi.
Chelsea crowed for a few penalty kicks after counterattacks were chased down and thrawted by defenders and Barcelona got a terrible red card after the referee mis-judged a Chelsea player tripping over his own legs. While the London side complained heavily about the officiating, it, like always, balanced out.
Then, out of nowhere, Barcelona scored in the final minute of extra time, setting off an amazing celebration that bordered on delirious. I was shocked and happy to have watched this. Now it is on to Rome where Barcelona will face Manchester United for the big game on May 27th. It has a lot to live up to, but after today anything is possible!