10-Man Chelsea and a Will of Fire (Chelsea vs Barcelona 2nd Leg)
The Sound of the crowd is deafening, outside of the Camp Nou as the 2nd leg of this critical semi-final gets underway. I, however, am not outside of the stadium but on the other side of the world. I am sitting in my Japanese class staring at the clock as it ticks past the 11:45am mark and the kick-off ensues. At 11:55am the class is dismissed and I rush out of class, an enraged girlfriend in tow and get home as the 26th minute of the clash highlights Barcelona’s passing brilliance.Watch video highlights at bottom of the page
UEFA Champions League Chelsea vs Barcelona 2nd leg review
I sat down at my computer and cranked the volume as Barcelona mesmerized the crowd with their hypnotic passing abilities. My eyes transfix on the ball as the ball is sent out wide by Dani Alves to Cuenca, who squares it to a waiting Busquetes who has the easiest of tap-ins to tie the 2nd leg in the 35th minute. The Catalans may have a way into the final!
Chelsea was let down by poor defensive clearances but if they can score then they can still take this tie. The ball is put back into play and Chelsea still look to be back-pedaling out of this competition altogether. They need to stay compact and keep their heads in the game. Of course, a minute and a half later John Terry, the captain, kneed Alexis Sanchez in the lower back and was shown the Red. Chelsea go down to 10 men and are now forced to defend against the best passing team in the world for over 50 minutes. Where are you Chelsea fan now? I hope he hasn’t stumbled into another Barca dominated restaurant, and if he has. Good luck!
Barcelona fans are used to winning and therefore tend to be very “in-your-face” about the games. Now, down to the end of the first half and Chelsea look like they may take the 1-0 into halftime. Unfortunately for them, Andres Iniesta, the giant-killer recieves the ball from Messi, by the touch of genius that is Messi, and tucks the ball into the far corner of the goal, beating Peter Cech for Barcelona’s second Goal!!! Wow, when they are doing well, they make it look easy. Iniesta gives The Catalan giants the (two legged) lead in the 43rd minute. Chelsea didn’t get this far because they were weak though. While the Barcelona fans are still jumping up and hugging each other Ramires is touched through, in behind Busquets and chips, the flat-footed Victor Valdes in for Chelsea’s first goal of the game. Magnificent!! Pure class shown in the 45th minute by the Brazilian, who gives Chelsea something to go into half-time with and the lead in the tie against Barcelona.
Half-time sounds and Chelsea is followed, this time, by jeers as they head to the locker-room. Somewhere out there, the lone Chelsea fan is toasting a new set of fans. The second half begins and once again Chelsea has sunken into a defensive shell, holding the roaring Barcelona attack at bay. Even Drogba is back defending, which may not be a great idea but is maybe their only hope. Barcelona push the ball around the box, probing for an opening in this English defense. An opening appears and Fabregas is sent through were Drogba takes him down. Penalty! Will Messi score his first against Chelsea or will Cech continue tradition and keep Messi out. A bundle of concentration builds on Messi’s brow as he lines up to take this. He shoots! He hits the bar! Messi kept himself out! Barcelona still must score as their clutch player misses from 12 yards out!
As the Barcelona 11 continue to press against the 10 men of Chelsea, Chelsea smartly compact themselves into a tighter box. It looks almost like an offense-defense drill. So while coaches preach practicing short-side drills, Chelsea are executing exactly that to perfection as the time continues to wind down to the conclusion. Eighty five minutes down and Chelsea are clutching to this slender lead. Torres is brought on by Di Matteo and the game suddenly opens up. Will this prove to be Torres’ day or Di Matteo’s bad decision?
Messi seems no to be able to crack open this defense. Chelsea is playing remarkably as they continue to keep Barcelona out! The 90th minute and Chelsea still hold the advantage based he two games played. What will happen in the next three minutes? Torres chests the ball down in the box and pushes it ahead, losing it to Mascherano. He doesn’t turn around to defend, as if he’s forgotten their man disadvantage. Mascherano sends it in and Cole sends the ball to the halfway mark. What! Torres was still up the field! He’s all alone against Victor Valdes and he touches it around Victor Valdes and slides it into the net! All of those misses and he erases those with this ever-important goal! Chelsea have done it. In the 92nd minute Fernando, the Spanish assassin, perseveres and scores the goal that sends them through! It’s all Chelsea from here and who will they meet in the final.
Who of you thought this would happen and where is that Chelsea fan now? Probably toasting another group of deflated Barcelona fans as he walks out into the sun once again!?
*Sources: Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images
Robert Dixon was born December 31st, 1985 in beautiful California and has been avidly playing soccer since he started high school. Having played in tournaments overseas and for multiple adult and semi-professional leagues, he has spent the greater portion of his time training while dedicating the rest to work, his family, and writing about the beautiful game. Currently residing in Los Angeles Robert hopes to further his career as a writer and a player and share his view on the wonderful world of football with his readers. Whether player or fan, the world of football (soccer) is filled with life and dedication. Show your colors, bleed for your team, and get involved!