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Chelsea can prey on Barcelona's weaknesses

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Alistair Magowan - BBC Sport | 17:00 UK time, Monday, 23 April 2012

Chelsea midfielder Ramires was rightly lauded for his display in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona where his determination and energy helped him track right-back Dani Alves.

Their battle on the wing was a key feature of the game as Chelsea attempted to narrow the Catalans' attacking options and funnel them towards the centre of the pitch.

The versatile Brazilian will have an even bigger role in the return leg when Pep Guardiola's team will look to exploit the wider Nou Camp pitch, and it was no surprise Ramires was given a day off for the Premier League draw at Arsenal on Saturday.
Frank Lampard, Raul Meireles, Didier Drogba and Barcelona's Xavi were the only players to cover more ground than Ramires at Stamford Bridge, but he will have to be more disciplined on Tuesday.

Glancing back to Arsenal's efforts in the Champions League last season, when the Gunners' took a 2-1 lead to Barcelona for the second leg of their last-16 tie which they eventually lost, they were hindered by Samir Nasri's failure to shadow Alves.

 

Each time Barcelona gravitated towards the left in that game, a quick switch to the Brazilian on the right meant left-back Gael Clichy was up against his opposite full-back - leaving the Arsenal back four stretched.

And, after such a sterling and compact display by Chelsea's defenders in the first leg, they will not want to spread their players as the hosts aim to find the narrow holes in the middle of the pitch en route to goal.

Former Chelsea winger Pat Nevin said Roberto di Matteo's tactical plan was close to a "masterclass", but the 1-0 scoreline was as much down to Barcelona's poor finishing as it was the Londoners' approach.

"It worked a treat and the space behind Alves even led to the goal," Nevin said. "It will be more difficult going to Barcelona, but I think people have lost the fear of Barcelona, they still have massive respect, but they know they have weaknesses."

In planting three disciplined midfielders in front of the back four to deny Barcelona space, the biggest benefit was watching Lionel Messi withdraw deeper and narrower in order to pick up the ball.

It was a similar ploy to one used by Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid in recent El Clasico encounters, with centre-back Sergio Ramos taking the eye in Saturday's 2-1 win at the Nou Camp by quickly bursting from defence to confront Messi when the Argentine squeezed past the midfield block.

Forcing Messi high up the pitch played a vital part in Chelsea's goal, too, as Lampard's tackle on Barca's top scorer led to Drogba's solitary strike.

But in recent games against AC Milan, in the last round of the Champions League, Chelsea and Real Madrid you can see how the areas in which the Argentine operates have been clipped.

Concentrating on space rather than the ball was part of Chelsea's strategy as Fernando Torres, a watching substitute for the first leg, revealed this week.

"Many teams who play Barcelona think you have to steal the ball from them, but I don't think that's possible," the Spanish forward said.

"You have to use different weapons against them. If you want to steal the ball, you won't manage it and you'll get tired, and then create more space for your opponent."

Real Madrid, Inter - under Mourinho - and now Chelsea have had success with this ploy and it has drawn criticism as "anti-football" in some quarters.

But if a manager opts to go toe-to-toe with one of the best sides in football history, allowing Messi time and space to play his quickfire one-twos in front of the penalty box, there is likely to be one winner.

Defending is as much a part of football as attacking and, although Chelsea rode their luck at times, their team-work and dedication to a game plan was equally as impressive as some of Barcelona's attacking showings of the past.

There is still room for improvement in Chelsea's game and, in watching the Real victory on Saturday, where Sami Khedira scored a scrappy opening goal after Barcelona failed to clear a corner, Nevin says the spirits of the Chelsea players will be lifted.

"They have John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill and Drogba, who are far better in the air than anything Barcelona have got," the Scot added.

"Chelsea did go a bit Stoke City in the first leg, with Ivanovic throwing the ball long on several occasions, but it led to chances in the first half."

Whatever your views on those tactics, what cannot be faulted is the spirit and concentration shown by Di Matteo's team.

And with Barcelona beaten twice in the space of four days, were there signs on Saturday as they trudged off the soaking Nou Camp turf that perhaps they have lost a touch of their self-belief?

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Comments

Page 1 of 6

  • Comment number 1.

    Chelsea were perfect in the first leg, they just need to contain. People seem to have forgotten as well that if they get an early goal, Barca have to score 3. That will be a difficult task even for them.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    I really hope Chelsea win, just to stop soul patch saying how great Barca are and how bad English players are. C'mon the Blues

  • Comment number 4.

    If Chelsea score.. They will go through.

  • Comment number 5.

    I would still make Barca big favourites. Crowding Messi could just give space to equally dangerous characters. Chelsea definitely have the edge in the air if they can get any ball to use, and an early goal for them would definitely make things interesting. But I can't help thinking that they are the least likely of the semi-finalists to make the final.

  • Comment number 6.

    We have to defend the 18 yard box and hope we get lucky. Our main threat will be from set pieces where Cahill, Terry and Drogba are pretty prolific and Barca are at their weakest. I'd consider playing Sturridge up with Drogba in a 4-4-2 with 2 banks of four to stifle Barca and Drogs And Sturridge to provide pace and power on the counter, though Sturridge isn't in great form.

  • Comment number 7.

    Chelsea don't always play this way, some of their play this season has been as good as anything spurs have done, e.g the first hour or so against United at the Bridge. Yes, Barcelona are possibly the greatest team ever,so surely if Chelsea can manage to beat them over two legs then they do deserve to be in the final. And just for the record, I would rather Barca beat Chelsea tomorrow, but if they manage to keep them out again I would applaud their efforts.

  • Comment number 8.

    You can say what you want about 'ugly football' but that is the only way anyone can ever hope to beat Barcelona over 2 legs realistically. Only the master tactician mourinho, with his wonderful squad can outplay Barca as we saw on saturday, but even then, that is only the first time hes beaten guardiola in the league. Fair play to chelsea, come on the blues!

  • Comment number 9.

    On Football Manager 2012, my main tactic for this type of battle would be to do exactly what Chelsea have done with a slight difference...

    Using a very advanced formation:

    6 - 2 - 2

    LFB, CB, CB, CB, RFB, RWB
    RM, RAM
    ST, ST

    Focus all possession down the right hand side of the field and turn counter attacks on. It's not guaranteed to work but it's as good a tactic as any against a team that genuinely overpowers you all over the park.

    What Chelsea must do is similar. Strengthen one of their wings and focus all passes down one of their wings while putting your best full back on the weak side so you aren't consistently being broken on that side. Barcelona don't like it when you can pass. If you find a way to pass around them, they concede chances and even with top quality defenders and a world class goalkeeper, they aren't used to being out-passed and you are likely to score.

  • Comment number 10.

    RE 2. "barcelonaarethebest" I guess that's a slightly biased opinion...

    The above blog hit the nail on the head. If you try to play the best team in the world at their own game, it's not going to work. It's best to leave Barca with possession and wait for them (eventually) to make a mistake. Real showed the world how it should be done at the weekend and fully deserved the win, whilst only seeing 22% of the ball.

    I couldn't care less what kind of football my team played, as long as it is winning football. One touch passing is pleasing to watch, but winning (I'd imagine for the vast majority of fans) is more important.

  • Comment number 11.

    Park that bus and make sure it's a double decker!

  • Comment number 12.

    I have to disagree. If Chelsea play the exact same way as they did in the first leg, they will get well beaten. Barca will not be as charitable as last week in front of goal.

    Chelsea will need to play more proactively than last week: Mascherano in central defence, for instance, has a tendency to be rash and can be targeted.

    Drogba needs to sit on biscuits.

    And, above all, keep Messi as far away from the 18-yard-box as possible.

  • Comment number 13.

    #2

    Sounds very bitter to me. When your team reaches a CL semi-final against Barca, you show everyone how it's "supposed" to be done, ok?

    I'm no Chelsea fan, but you have to commend their defensive effort and commitment last week. Good luck to them tomorrow night.

    Scoring > Passing

  • Comment number 14.

    If Chelsea simply crowd Messi, other players such as Alexis Sanchez or Pedro will just drift in and apply the finish, Barcelona are by no means a one man team

  • Comment number 15.

    4- 0 to Barca. No bother.

  • Comment number 16.

    It was nice to see Barca get beat (twice in a row) - I'm sick of the hype. As for Drogba's antics, well it was no worse than Sergio Busquets rolling around everytime some one gets near him. But of course, it's Barca so all is forgiven!

    I laugh at the "anti-football" claims. Greece in the Euros was anti-football because they had no other style. Chelsea can at least play, but if you have the perfect counter to Barca's boring pass-the-ball-to-death tactics then why not use it? I'm no fan of Chelsea but I would much rather see them in the final, at least the commentators would focus on the game and not wetting themselves over Barca.

    And Messi the best player in the world or the best player ever? He doesn't seem so great playing for Argentina, he still hasn't won a world cup!

  • Comment number 17.

    @2

    We tried to play football against Barca in the final last year.....it didnt work!
    You have to get amongst them,keep the distance between midfielders and defence as small as possible. The only chance Chelsea have if they sit back and take there chance/chances(If they get any!). I think Chelsea will need atleast 1 goal to advance though. My feeling is 3-1(3-2agg) Barca,with Barca scoring a late winner.

  • Comment number 18.

    #2 - Nothing worse than a football fan (well there are worse things, but you know... : ) ), telling other football fans what a "true fan of football" is or worse "how football should be played".

    Politicians tell me what I should do and think, and I don't think much of them either...

    Football is as diverse as it is interesting.

  • Comment number 19.

    Without taking anything away from Real Madrid or Chelsea i dont think Barcelona are the team they were last year, its very hard for a layperson like me to actually pin point what it is. Real and Chelsea played a very similar tactic, defend well deny space and break on the counter, its not negative play its just the way to bea such a amazing team like Barcelona. bUt still something is missing, they look a slightly agitated when attacking almost as if they are forcing it to much, Messi is forcing the issue, and that spells some sort of not handling the pressure.

    There will be a time and it seems to be coming that teams will be just be tactically out witting them.

    But take nothing away from Barcelona or Real and Chelsea for that matter as they are all big game teams.

    Barcelona are very very dangerous and even a slight mistake they will be punished, there will be alot more pressure on Barcelona than there will be on Chelsea, and the longer the games goes on with a goal from the home team then the pressure will mount more and more, Chelsea just have o be aware at all times make little or no mistakes then they have a chance.

    2 weeks ago i wouldnt have given Chelsea a prayer, but as i see it now its a straight 50-50 game of football.

  • Comment number 20.

    Comment number 2 just about sums up the current mood at the Nou Camp, yes you have been the best and have played some of the best football ever, perhaps and only perhaps the only way to play football, but whats all this rubbish about a true football fan, football fans support there local teams with passion, that can mean a sunday league team or Spain as world Champions. As comeEnglandaway said that football is diverse, and the true heart of football is watching your home team from teh stands if possible and jeering them onto a win, and if the lose you still support them, i just wonder is number 2 comment is from Barcelona or just another glory seeking anti football fan who can only see football as a game played by the best in the world.

    And if his comment is true that Chelsea did nothing at all, how come they won, and why did Bracelona not win 25-0.

    Success bread contempt, arrogance and ultimately failure if the spirit of the game is forgotten.

    Barcelona huffed and puffed but couldnt blow down the lion that stood in front of them and with a quick flex of muscle brought Barcelona down to a defeat.

  • Comment number 21.

    no. 2 you are being anti Chelsea not anti, anti football. I believe it is a myth about Chelsea's average age being high also.

    no.17 I have a sneaky feeling it'll be 3-1 to Barcelona as well. Chelsea need to have more possession tomorrow but they will struggle as ultimately they are a couple of players short who have a great first touch.

  • Comment number 22.

    I for one will be supporting Chelsea all the way against Barca. I'm no Chelsea fan, they are one my most disliked teams in the prem, partly due to JT but thats another issue, but I will always support any english team in europe, especially against Barca.

    I am getting sick and tired with this barcelona love-in from the media and a lot of other fans. Frankly, this isn't really the english way. We love an underdog, and when a team gets arrogant and moany when they are at the top, regardless of their individual or collective talent, we don't like them. I get very bored by Barca football, also by Spanish football, I would much rather watch a team like Bayern or Milan in Europe than Barca. I would love it if Chelsea parked the bus, frustrated Barca and grabbed it.

    As for those people critisicing chelsea's tactics, a good team will play with their own strengths, but more importantly, against their opponents weaknesses. It is up to Barca to change the game plan if it is not working, maybe they should try a more direct style, with a big man up top and messi recieving the flicks. Of course this isn't "the barca way" and so they wouldnt consider it.

    As for Pep Guardiola, surely the easiest job in football?

  • Comment number 23.

    Chelsea have a chance and they are lucky to have even that Barcelona were not great by their standards and yet they still hit the post twice not even Mourinho can stop Barca scoring at the Nou Camp and the idea of trying the same tactic as Mourinho with players who use a different formation and are not as good as Ozil, Ronaldo etc I do think that the game will be close though with Chelsea buoyed by Wednesday's results but I think Barcelona will be angry to have lost 2 on the spin and will be desperate not let it be 3

  • Comment number 24.

    @2, your clearly trying to wind up everyone on this site, as the majority of English based club supporters are hoping Chelsea go through. What I will say is yes Chelsea were lucky but who were the last team to beat them without any form of luck? Yes Madrid were the better team but even they needed Puyol to be slow clearing the ball and Valdez to position himself incorrectly to beat them. Don't get me wrong that is by far the best display against Barcelona I have seen for a while, but even so a bit of luck is required.

    A Chelsea team that is clearly in need of transition, beat the best team in the world (Possibly ever). Clearly the way that Jose Mourinho set that team up, whilst not the prettiest style ever (but actually can produce great football if they want- quite a few 4-0's in that first season under Jose) is surely the most effective style ever devised? They are so staunch in defence, and actually with Jose we had Robben and Cole who offer a lot bigger threat than any of our current players, and we are playing with a CF who had Malaria and is 34...

    Jose's way is the better (if uglier) way.

  • Comment number 25.

    no. 6 Sturridge could be an answer if possession is scarce but at the moment he's lost all that cockiness for some reason

  • Comment number 26.

    Chelsea are doomed, barcelona will win easily 4-0 or 5-0, pitch is far too big for chelsea to play the same way they did at stamford bridge and they were very very very very lucky to not concede a few goals. They simply can't be so lucky again!

  • Comment number 27.

    @19

    I think Barca havent played a settled team all season,and Pep doesnt know which is his best starting 11. Thats the problem for me.
    But if they goto there trusted same 11 that played against United last season(Sanchez instead of Villa,and Adriano instead of Abidal),then i would worry for Chelsea.

  • Comment number 28.

    The first goal in this game is absolutely huge. I don't think many people actually expect Chelsea to win this game, but should they get the first goal, their progress through to the final would seem ever more likely. If Barca score first, i think they will definitely progress. I'm genuinely interested....what instructions would you give if you were Di Matteo to Chelsea if they were to concede first? Go out and get a goal in reply leaves more space for the Messi/Xavi/Iniesta trio to tear Chelsea to shreds and defending deep as a way of ensuring they don't concede another would surely not be enough!

  • Comment number 29.

    #28

    If Barca score first, Chelsea can't afford to sit deep, they dont have the stamina to chase the ball for 120 mins at the Nou Camp. If Chelsea do concede early on, they should just gamble and go for it, you never know it might take the Barca back line by surprise!

  • Comment number 30.

    2
    I disagree with you. I like watching Arsenal, and Tottenham earlier in the season but not Barca. I cannot stand watching their trundle passing style of play. They are that dominant against every team in possession that it is really tedious, there is no excitment, because week in week out against poor spanish sides the result is the same. I actually also like watching teams like Chelsea aswell. Rough, long ball, and quality defending is sometimes alot better to watch than players walking around pushing the ball to each other at a very slow pace.

  • Comment number 31.

    26
    The pitch is one metre wider! I actually think Barca will struggle even more to create chances if Michael Essien plays instead of Raul Mereiles. He had a very good game against Arsenal.

  • Comment number 32.

    #28

    Yes, i completely agree, but i wouldn't say it's a case of questioning Chelsea's stamina. Look at Inter Milan in their second leg tie at the Nou Camp a few years ago. They personified the term "park the bus". They didn't particularly do much chasing, just erected a human wall outside of their penalty box. I do agree though that by gambling and going for it, they are giving themselves a much better chance of progressing.

  • Comment number 33.

    Man United fan again ha ha! I'm going to back Chelsea with all my soul here honestly I'd love to see an Englishman lift that cup, I have the utmost respect for Terry, I want to see him do well for the sake of our country, when it comes to Europe you have to put your rivalry aside and back England!
    Chelsea have a great chance, in fact they won't ever have a better chance, Barcelona have run out of steam at a pivotal moment, Chelsea won't need to attack, they could afford to play in the same way as at Stamford Bridge, and counter attack. Barcelona are very fragile at the back, Drogba proved a real handful and he will be fresh. I'm tipping a draw here. Common if you're English you have to back Chelsea, don't forget Chelsea's defense is England's backbone, so you want to see them do well against Spain's midfield!

  • Comment number 34.

    Pretty sick of people saying Barcelona play football the "right" way. Or that a possession game is the right way to play at all. Its not in the rules and different players have different strengths.

    If everyone had to play the same way that Barcelona do then there would be an even bigger gap between the top teams and the rest than their already is. Yes, its nice to watch when it comes off. But how is anyone supposed to beat these teams if they have to match their tactics? Arsenal would probably win the league every year if thats the case.

    Football is about playing it the way that suits what you've got at your disposal and finding a way to counter-act the way the opposing team plays. If this means crowding the midfield, pressing the game, keeping the ball, whatever. As long as it gets results.

    Watching Pique and Puyol pass the ball between themselves for 10 minutes at a time is just as boring as watching someone put 10 men behind the ball. So good luck to Chelsea and whatever gameplan they take up, if it gets the result then its a good one.

  • Comment number 35.

    24
    I actually recall Barcelona getting romped 4-2 against Chelsea in 2004.

  • Comment number 36.

    I have to be honest i don't want Chelsea to win the Champions League I find it extremely enjoyable every year that Abramovitch's Holy Grail as the media term it still eludes him each time

  • Comment number 37.

    Anyone who snears at another person accusing them of either not being a true fan or playing true football tends to do it from the comfort of their own armchair. It's easy to support a club with billions to spend but try supporting the likes of Darlington and see how your view of football changes.

    Good luck to Chelsea but I suspect they'll need a little more than luck if they're going to be playing at the Allianz Arena next month.

  • Comment number 38.

    I see Mikel scoring tomorrow or assissting the Drog greatly..Whichever , Its Chelsea all the way.

    And for all Barca's possession, the truth is those passes are one touches in the middle of the park aimed at frustrating opponents till they lose concentration. That to me is the real anti-football. The Man U's and Madrids come straight at you, not dilly dally till opponents get irritated.

  • Comment number 39.

    Somebody said that "the most beautiful thing in football is the final score" and the score is the only thing I will personally care about when the game on Camp Nou is finished. It don't matter how "ugly" Chelsea will play as long as they go through.

  • Comment number 40.

    22
    "I am getting sick and tired with this barcelona love-in from the media and a lot of other fans. Frankly, this isn't really the english way. We love an underdog, and when a team gets arrogant and moany when they are at the top, regardless of their individual or collective talent, we don't like them. I get very bored by Barca football, also by Spanish football, I would much rather watch a team like Bayern or Milan in Europe than Barca. I would love it if Chelsea parked the bus, frustrated Barca and grabbed it."

    Agree with every word.
    Funny how people never critised England's performance against Spain, when they did exactly the same thing.

  • Comment number 41.

    2, cast your mind back 8 days or so, chelsea 5 spurs 1, didnt seem to sit back much that game, and against napoli when required, 4-1. sugest you comment on something you know a bit abt.

  • Comment number 42.

    2
    I'm so sorry to say, but does Drogba get his 'antics' from the Barcelona players. The diving in Barcelona is shocking and it wouldn't suprise me if Guardiola had his own academy.
    I also hate it how Messi is portrayed as a 'humble' and pure characyer by the media. It is very easy to be portrayed as such a thing when things are going well. It was funny to see him mouthing at the ref etc when things were going wrong at Stamford Bridge and at the Nou Camp on Saturday.

  • Comment number 43.

    Chelsea had a perfect start to the two legged tie, exposing Barca's weaknesses rather than trying to emulate Barca's strengths. It's more than just 'park the bus' when you consider the need for direct counter attacks with strong hold up play at the top of the field. To be honest I found Barca really boring to watch, theyre so indirect in their style its untrue. Xavi received the ball 133 times, and he's not exactly playing high up the pitch with Mascherano at CB.

    Anyway Barca were unlucky to be fair (no more so that CHelsea in that game in 2009) and I feel its there for them to win if they turn up. I dont know if they can handle Drogba though, thats a big question mark.

  • Comment number 44.

    @33. steffy78,

    You see that is my view also. I remember watching ManU against Bayern in the final (99 I think) when they scored twice in stoppage time. I cheered that night, I cheered the night Liverpool came back from 3-0 down also. Sadly I cried when JT slipped taking that pen:(

    I have a rule.. I always support the team closest to me, I'm not into team rivaly, I like the banter and taking the p* singing from the terrace, but I will always support a English club in Europe..

  • Comment number 45.

    If Chelsea get a draw, they will go through.

  • Comment number 46.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 47.

    shilia is absolute jokes
    if chelsea draw they will go through...duh!!!!

  • Comment number 48.

    Comment number 2.
    At 19:09 23rd Apr 2012, barcelonaarethebest wrote:

    "True fans of football love watching teams like barcelona, arsenal, real madrid (except when playing barca), tottenham and man united - teams who play football as it should be played. There is no joy in watching a team like Chelsea who just sit in front of their goal and absolutely do nothing for the majority of the game"

    You're the equivalent of a man that likes the bleached blonde with the big implants. Those of us who can see beyond the obvious can appreciate the finer virtues: discipline, strategy, tactics, planning, organisation, tenacity, determination. You only see what's straight in front of you, you can't see the big picture.

  • Comment number 49.

    lets be honest pique is poor, he is nor world class, and yes i am serious. Pique is a man utd reject, man utd reject, that says alot.

    alvez can attack he cannot defend, pyuol his good, i like him, his a real defender, no non sense, and a hard defender.

    The point is pique looks good, why because have 70 % of the possesion, and the other 30% is the other team passing about on their half, where does the defending happen. As i said messi is not invincible or as good as ronaldo, it is simple, ronaldo is proven player in two leauges, at that time the epl was on sky high, four or 6 team in either qf or sf in cl. messi is not proven in two leauges, he mastered only la liga, and it only shows how weak it is, ronaldo scored more than he starts.

    my prediction is chelsea can hang on the first 20 mins, and maybe get a goal arond 35th or 43rd min they win, if barca score in the first 20 mins game over. mark my words

  • Comment number 50.

    Yawn.

    the answer is quite simple

    Just park the Bus, hit and hope, hoof and chase if that fails just get Drogba to roll about on the floor.

    Chelsea have no chance.

    simples.

  • Comment number 51.

    who thinks torres hat-trick? i can see it coming:)

  • Comment number 52.

    The guy at number 2 is very biased and i have submitted a complaint.

    So, to Chelsea V Barcelona. I think as the pitch is much wider than The Bridge Chelsea will have to play 5-4-1, with 3 centre backs. I also think we should play Ramires with Lampard and Mikel, and maybe Essien or Meireles if you are brave. Essien as a DM or Meireles as a more attacking option. Of course Drogba upfront as he holds the ball up well and can finish.... unlike others. So:
    Cech
    Bosingwa Ivanovic Cahill Terry Cole
    Lampard Mikel
    Ramires Meireles
    Drogba
    And have Ramires and Meireles come back to help defend aginst Barcelona attacks. Chelsea need to make the most of corners and throw-ins as they can create goals against Barcelona, who are a more attacking team. Remember, with Valdes in goal, an ageing Puyol and shakey Javier Mascherano, I think Chelsea have a great chance.
    But we do need an early goal, before HT let's say. I think if Chelsea go 1-0 up Barcelona are finished, even better if we do it in the second half.
    I reckon a draw or maybe 2-1 Barcelona, which would put us, maybe not deservedly, into the final..... then anything can happen!

  • Comment number 53.

    Th beautiful game VS a gritted and dogged team reminds me of Arsenal Vs Birmingham in the Carling cup Final.

    Arsenal are all hands down in probably every position far superior to Birmingham, but when a team fights for every ball, throws his life on the line to defend and then take there chances then the result is the only thing to talk about.

    I am still not sure about not trying to play football against Barcelona, that begs the question what is football, for me at the highest level its about tactics, players knowing their roles and sticking with it. Obviously on a much lower level i have played against superior teams and still we have had results, but if anyone has ever been in a game when possesion was with the other team and there is a constant wave after wave of attack its the hardest style to play against and anyone who thinks that there is no skill involved in defense then counter has never played football.

  • Comment number 54.

    i know there are non chelsea fans out there but this is your last hope
    if chelsea dont win it , no other english team will win again
    BELIEVE IN BLUES!!!!!!

  • Comment number 55.

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  • Comment number 56.

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  • Comment number 57.

    Going for a 1-1 draw. Won't be boring, as long as you keep your eyes fixed on the home side.

    Didn't know Buses could score till now. Oh well, Barca will be back next year with a traffic warden brigade.

  • Comment number 58.

    I remember 26 years ago a "small" Scottish side (Dundee United,) being drawn against Barcelona in the quarter final of the UEFA cup. Barcelona contained "world class" players such as Gary Lineker etc. and was managed by Terry Venebles the media wrote off United, Barcelona were going to push us aside we couldn't compete etc... After we beat Barcelona 1-0 at Tannadice Park Dundee in the first leg, it was a fluke and we would be destroyed in Spain they said.. Final score Dundee United 2, Barcelona 1 - my point, Chelsea can do it!
    Also, to my knowledge Dundee United remain the only team with a 100% competitive record against Barcelona with 4 out of 4...

  • Comment number 59.

    Its going to be a very interesting reaction from Barcelona they are now under so much pressure, and if things dont go there way early then as most Spanish supporter s do they turn on the team.

    No one gave Chelsea a chance last game, but they won.

    Everything about me says that Chelsea are gonna get thrashed, but i thought that this time last last week.

    Anything can happen....

    I just hope the officials dont ruin it, lets just hope its a fair and square game, cause if memory serve me Arsenal were in a good position until RVP got sent off for being offside .....

  • Comment number 60.

    barcelonaarethebest, and you think the way Barcelona play is exciting doing four hundred short passes every game and back to the goal keeper once in a while, there's no right or wrong way of playing the game because if there is show me where it says in the rule book and as for the way Chelsea played they did well the way they defended and we wernt going to play Barcelona at there own game and get beaten lol think again they got beat fair and square and good on them and well done to Madrid for beating them as well.

  • Comment number 61.

    this has smatterings of the CL final last year where all the masterminds on this site said how United should win the game. Now it's Chelsea. Lets face it I'm a United fan and i reaally want Chelsea to win. But its hardly easy defending brilliantly for 90mins and not conceding and then creating a couple of brilliantly executed counter attacks.

    United couldnt use defensive tactics cos they didnt hav the midfield players. Chelsea have but on their day Barca can till find a way through. For Chelsea to win Barca need to squande as many chances as they did last game against chelsea.

  • Comment number 62.

    50
    I wouldn't say they have no chance at all.
    55
    They have Liverpool in the FA cup final. Liverpool may be a cup team at the moment but Chelsea will be favourites.

  • Comment number 63.

    @ 55

    Just like no one could care less about the glory seekers getting knocked out the group stages or throwing away a 2 goal lead with 10 minutes to go.

    If they dont do what they are supposed to this year then they will just spend again.....

    Why not have a more balanced football mind, just cause United were taken to teh cleaners in Europe buy average teams this year doesnt mean you have to hate ...

    Sad....

  • Comment number 64.

    why are all these antifootball comments poking around. everyone admits barca are the best team around at the moment with the best player (messi) and so to play football against them is a hard task and lets face it you'll probably lose but to call it anti football is ridiculous. chelsea deserve a lot of credit they had a game plan and they won. any team that beats the best team in the world, whatever way necessary, deserves credit and drogbas goal whilst kind of lucky was very nice football.

  • Comment number 65.

    HAHA CharadeYouAre, so your a Man United fan and you have the cheek to come on to this thread and say that after how your rubbish team has performed this season, Man City will beat Man United just like they did at Old Trafford lets see how many goals Man City can score.

  • Comment number 66.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 67.

    @ 52 ''The guy at number 2 is very biased and i have submitted a complaint.''

    i hope you're joking?
    If not I love Liverpool and really really really don't like MUFC. Complain about that too.

  • Comment number 68.

    I was very upset when Terry missed that penalty, but I hate the fact that YouTuber's rub it in and people boo. Sure John has done things bad OFF the field but he makes things right on the pitch. Nobody should boo a world class defender, he is better than Sol Campbell!
    I think everyone tomorrow in England or any Chelsea fan should put there opinions on CFC to one side for an little while and watch 'the best team in the world' fall apart by an average Chelsea side (really).
    Good luck to The Blues, I really hope you go through. This maybe your last chance!
    ♥ CFC forever

  • Comment number 69.

    @65

    i bet you feel a real plonker now.

  • Comment number 70.

    Suggested formation for Chelsea: 10-0-0

  • Comment number 71.

    Maybe if I was the supporter of the same team as you I would but I am not so no I dont.

  • Comment number 72.

    Everything screams that tomorrow will be a Barca victory and probably quite a comfortable one too, but this is football so writing Chelski off tomorrow would be madness.

    I hope Chelski pull it off, yet another Barca final wouldnt be my cup of tea.

  • Comment number 73.

    I liked it more when we were written off. Where have all these Chelsea-likers come from? Jinx much? Makes me uncomfortable. We'll still probably lose, but we've given it a go, and frankly as a longtime Chelsea fan, the fact that a semi-final is now familiar territory is a great feeling in itself.

  • Comment number 74.

    @65

    seeing as you, along with a few other chavettes have just decided to join a debate about football may i advise you;

    i support

    Londons Finest Club which is certainly not chelsea ( note small c ) nor is it spurs ( note small s )

    Arsenal !

    i hope I've made myself clear.

  • Comment number 75.

    19.
    At 19:39 23rd Apr 2012, shadow warrior wrote:
    i dont think Barcelona are the team they were last year, its very hard for a layperson like me to actually pin point what it is.
    ____________________________

    I agree with you , I am no expert but I watch a lot of Barcelona games. I think they made some tactical changes and they have not really come off.

    Last season the had mainly Pedro on the left , Messi on the right, and Villa down the middle.
    Xavi , Iniesta, and Busguets in central midfield.

    This season the central midfield partnership of Xavi and Iniesta has been broken up and is rarely seen now.
    In a lot of games one of them will play while the other is a sub , and when you do see them on the pitch together Iniesta is usually on the left wing not in the centre.

    Messi seems to stay more in the centre as an attacking midfielder , and Guardiola seems to rotate players for the left and right side of attack with no settled formation.
    I think they miss Villa and Abidail a lot , Sanchez blows hot and cold , and Fabregas is found wanting when he plays in the midfield.
    Also Pedro and to a certain extent Pique are out of favour with Guardiloa which also does not help matters.

  • Comment number 76.

    Incidentally HaHa-Charade, the brass band will still be far too limited this summer, but if you want good brass, listen to the swan-call motif by the Finnish wonder Sibelius, about a minute and a bit in - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAbuOQRdXkQ

  • Comment number 77.

    what has a Burnet Moth and chelsea got in common ?

    answer:

    both have six spots.

  • Comment number 78.

    I think if Chelsea score early were through this is likely to come from set pieces the first leg showed we had complete aerial dominance. Also Barca arent the team of last year they miss the clinicalness of Villa and waste Fabregas or Iniesta wide left rather than in the middle. Finally people saying the pitch is much larger done some research its only 2m longer and 1m wider so not perhaps as big a factor its made out to be.

  • Comment number 79.

    HAHA CharadeYouAre, we knocked out Arsenal in the Champions League how did that feel lol? and as for Arsenal I can understand why you are so negative towards Chelsea because Arsenal have not won nothing for the last 7 years, how did it feel getting beat by Birmingham in the Carling Cup final?

  • Comment number 80.

    @76

    ohh superb !! thank you very enjoyable.

    decent taste as well fella

    much obligued.


    and top notch composer as well !

  • Comment number 81.

    I know how it felt in Birmingham when the carling cup was heroically guided back up the M1 ;)

  • Comment number 82.

    Read @78 : I agree, people say 'it is much larger' but is is only by 2 m in width and 1 m longer, that's not exactly 10 meters.

  • Comment number 83.

    I think Barca will just about go through, maybe 2-0 on the night, but I disagree that they're a fantastic team to watch. They do pass it around but it often is at a really slow pace, it's more the case that they grind teams down rather than zip it around, make devastating runs and have a high-tempo intensity. In my opinion Madrid are much better to watch, seriously quick on the counter attack , as soon as they get the ball they are down the other end usually creating a chance or scoring.

  • Comment number 84.

    Oh excuse me then Charade haha, the finest in London, beat by working class heroes of the Midlands :)

    How many years wihout a trophy ?

    Doesn't sound that fine to me

  • Comment number 85.

    49.At 21:10 23rd Apr 2012, badfella0807 wrote:

    lets be honest pique is poor, he is nor world class, and yes i am serious.

    alvez can attack he cannot defend,
    _________________________________________

    Do you watch Barcelona ?
    Alves is a good defender , he normally has Ronaldo in his pocket when the play against each other , Ronaldo usually switches to the right side or centre to try his luck in the 2nd half of the games.
    Pique is also a very good defender , he was not rejected by Man Utd he asked to leave. I am sure SAF would take him back with open arms.

  • Comment number 86.

    HAHA Charadeyouare... I don't get it... Now arsenal has a small a? What is your point? You support a club, fair enough, but your not exactly the best club in London (NOTE FOR YOU: LONDON needs a capital L :) ). Apart from RVP I don't think there are many others that would get into the Chelsea team... Vermaelen is very good but the Arsenal back four are always interested in getting their names on the scoresheet instead of defending. Scezney could be a top keeper, but he's only just made 50 appearances in his career, hardly the world class talent arsenal think he is. Midfield wise, Song has been brilliant this year, he would get into a Chelsea team I suspect, but Walcott, no chance, Chamberlain (oh I'm an arsenal fan- hes not been heard of before he's the best player ever all hail Wenger). Not getting on his back, but as a bit of a newsflash, its sad that every player your manager deems worthy of a game is considered the next best player in that position in the world. Since the invincibles, Fabregas is the best player you have produced, who sort of isn't on the same level as Xavi and Iniesta which this blog is meant to be about.

    Not having a go, but most arsenal fans need to tone down the rubbish we get about every arsenal youngster ever to wear the shirt.

  • Comment number 87.

    @76

    enjoyed that immensely very inspirational as well.

  • Comment number 88.

    What did you make of the weekend game and Wenger's comments by the way HaHa Charade? I thought it was classic Wenger protecting his team, yes we played counter-attack, but there were a lot of changes and we still had 50% of the ball and actual chances rather than the "Zero" that Wenger said we had. Ramsay was bad again, but the worst culprit was the pitch. It seemed like the ball was constantly stuck under both side's feet. Don't know what was going on there, including Walcott getting his feet stuck and injuring himself. A dull game, I thought Bertrand for us and Song for you were the best players.

  • Comment number 89.

    shadow warrior the only thing Arsenal have been good at is wimping out when it comes to winning something lol, they are a joke that has taken them 7 or 8 years to finish above Chelsea, Van Perise will leave in the summer because they have no idea on how to win trophies any more, Van Perise is the only player to win a trophy at Arsenal in the last 7 years and that's player of the year lol.

  • Comment number 90.

    I think people are forgetting about what happened a few weeks ago in Spain. If it wasn't for some sloppy defending by AC Milan, allowing Messi to score from the penalty spot, Milan would be through. Chelsea with a much stronger defence stand a decent chance on the night. Barcelona aren't invincible and can be beaten, as we've seen at the weekend. Chelsea just need the same tactics, rely on the counter attack and set pieces, and force a mistake from the vunerable Barcelona defence.

  • Comment number 91.

    Barca 7-0 Chelsea, with Drogba being stretchered off with a dislocated shoelace.

    That's my prediction anyway.

  • Comment number 92.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 93.

    @ 91, if Chelski just beat Barcelona 1-0, why would we lose 7-0? You would say 'the pitch is wider' Answer: by 2 meters.

  • Comment number 94.

    @84

    as you seem hell bent on not changing the cd:

    perhaps you need reminding of chelseas ( note small c ) place in the Grand Order of things.

    like you, i will i also play a cd only with a slightly different tone and somewhat more imaginative, and in chelseas case this cd is full of " brass "

    in fact, if it were not for a serious injection of " brass " your team would have joined Wolves by now ( note capitol W ).

    your success was brought, some say, by dodgy money, if it were not for your benefactor, you would have no history worth speaking of.

    by all means take some pride in the fact, you have managed to win something, however, you will always continue to Look Up to Arsenal, if you study the table, you will indeed find this is the case even to this day.

    and like liverpool ( note small l ) i hope your enjoying the view.

  • Comment number 95.

    87. It's a fantastic piece piece of music isn't it? I was lucky enough to see that with Mendelsohhns's Violin Concerto and Vaughn-Williams' Lark Ascending at the Brighton Dome on my birthday recently. It was so good. Then I got to see Beethoven's 9th at Snape Maltings in Suffolk the other week, I've been very lucky. You listen to things like that and a Brass Band playing "Self-Preservation Society" by Quincy Jones, quite badly, makes you very annoyed that a Brass Band in the England stands can't do better.

  • Comment number 96.

    If Barcelona are going to be beaten any time soon then this is the season. In comparison the to the last 2-3 seasons this Barca time is simply not as good. It's Messi magic or bust in every game.

  • Comment number 97.

    i am not a Chelsea fan but i want them to win, i do not like the way Barcelona play because a 30meter pass is always more spectacular than a 3 meter one. I get bored watching Barcelona play...come on Chelsea you can do it.

  • Comment number 98.

    @ 88

    i think it was a fair result to be honest.

    I'm not sure where Wenger got his " locked the game up " perspective from and you were ably assisted by a certain Ramsey, who IMO as each game passes, shows he really should go back to wales ( note small w ).

  • Comment number 99.

    Have posed this question before - is it possible to beat Barcelona by playing 'sexy' football?

  • Comment number 100.

    94. The Cup finals against Leeds, the Cup Winner's cup the year after, Di-Matteo's wonder strike in 97, us coming from behind to beat you with Hughes and Poyet and winning the League Cup in 98, plus Zola's strike against Stuttgart in the Cup-winner's cup, Di-Matteo again for the FA cup against Villa (though it was a crap game), and even the Ranieri's final where Parlour scored a wonder-goal (for him) are history enough for most teams before our recent success thankyou very much.

 

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