Apr 24, 2012

Sorry Chelsea, Barca's Superiority Will Carry the Day

Chelsea fans don't want to hear this, but today their club faces a monumental task that will in all likelihood fall short. The reference here is of course to the return leg of the UEFA Champions League semifinal with Barcelona that takes place at Camp Nou stadium.

Blues shocked just about everybody with their 1-nil victory in last week's first leg. It was a gutsy performance from Roberto DiMatteo's men and one that supplied (temporary) payback for the bitter defeat at the same stage of the same tournament three years ago.

Alas, unlike in 2009 Chelsea were not the better team on the day. Barca dominated possession and in the first 45 minutes saw one shot carom off the crossbar and another headed off the line. In first half stoppage time, almost as an afterthought, Didier Drogba put the home side up. Only through a tremendous defensive effort, fantastic goalkeeping and some good luck (missed chances by Adriano and Sanchez, a stoppage time ball off the post) were Chelsea able to hang on for the win.

Over 180 minutes one side's run of luck usually cancels out and Chelsea are simply not good enough to make up the difference. Pep Guardiola will take advantage of the additional space supplied by the Camp Nou pitch to stretch a tired Blues defense that, let's not forget, is anchored by a pair of 32-year olds. While it is true that Barca have not played up to their usual high standards lately, the Catalan side's poor run of form gives them something to prove. After Sunday's bitter home loss to Real Madrid, Barca are all but assured of losing the Liga crown to their archrivals. With only the cup final on May 25 on the agenda, resources have been freed up to defend the Champions League title with renewed vigor. So expect the blaugrana to come out fighting. And expect Chelsea to eventually -- probably in the first 45 minutes -- to yield a goal. The second half should then see the floodgates open.

A bit of a grandiose prediction, it is true. But Chelsea have struggled for much of the season. While that may not have been a reflection of their true quality, they are surely playing over their heads a bit now. Over two legs a team like that will succumb to a superior opponent. Barca, even after Sunday's humiliation, are that opponent.

1 comment:

  1. It was a crazy game and now only Bayern stand in the way of a first Champions League trophy for Chelsea