Chelsea last night claimed a 1-0 victory over Barcelona in the semi-final first leg of the Champions League.
The Blues were outplayed at times, who aren’t by Barcelona and rode their luck on occasions but managed to hold on to that precious lead.
Chelsea was outstanding as they managed to hold off Messi and Co. for ninety minutes at Stamford Bridge.
A goal from the away side looked almost inevitable, and it looked more like a defence vs. attack on the training ground in the last half an hour of the game.
However, unlike most teams that come up against Barcelona Chelsea held strong. They defended for their lives and now have a one goal lead to take to the Nou Camp next Tuesday.
The Blues may have had fortune on their side, with Barcelona hitting the woodwork twice but you need a bit of luck on your side if you want to win the big trophies. You also need a bit of luck when you are playing the European champions and a team considered one of the best ever.
I think they deserved their luck just for their performance. It was performance that reminded me of Chelsea under Jose Mourinho. It was like the team had gone back in time to the Chelsea team that won the Premier League and challenged for the Champions League trophy.
Chelsea have been criticised in the last few years for being an aging team but they used all their experience last night and had to at times. The likes of Ashley Cole, John Terry and Frank Lampard were superb as they managed to subdue wave after wave of Barcelona attacks.
Then there was veteran striker Didier Drogba. When he wasn’t producing amateur dramatics and lying on the floor, he was a major threat to the Barca defence. His power and strength in the air caused the Barca defence problems, on the Blues rare raids into the visitors half.
I’m sure the Ivorian can cause Barca problems again at the Nou Camp. It’s just a matter of whether Chelsea will have the ball long enough to supply the big striker.
The Nou Camp is a notoriously hard ground to win at, as the pitch is so large and Barca make their opponents work hard for anything they get. Usually the home side manage to find a breakthrough, just like they did against AC Milan in the quarter-finals. A big disadvantage for Barca though is that they didn’t score an away goal.
The game at Stamford Bridge was one of those rare occasions when Barcelona had an off-night. The European champions don’t have many of them and it’s very unlikely that they will have another one next week.
The likes of Lionel Messi and Xavi wasn’t at their brilliant best but on Tuesday I’m sure they will perform far better than at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea have the lead at half-time, in mission improbable. It will however be very difficult to hold onto that one goal advantage at the Nou Camp. Barcelona are European champions for a reason. They are also regarded as one of the best domestic football teams to ever grace a pitch for a reason, they can be simply devastating with the ball.
It will be a fantastic achievement for Roberto Di Matteo and his team if they do make it through for the final though. However I do believe that Barcelona will have the bit between their teeth in the second leg and recover that one goal margin.
The good news for Chelsea is that Barcelona have failed to recover from a first leg deficit in five European semi-finals. The Chelsea players have kept themselves in the tie and more, but I feel that keeping that lead will be a bridge too far for the Blues. Good luck Chelsea, you’re going to need it!
Can Chelsea progress into the final of the Champions League?