Two UEFA Semi Final Upsets and The Sole Chelsea Fan
Another semi-final down, another Spanish team disappointed. We have the chance for an “all Spanish final”, but if the performances from yesterday and today are any preview of the second leg, then an “all Spanish exit in the semis” will instead be the headline.
Today I had to work. I know, terrible timing. I work at a restaurant that, fortunately for me, has eight televisions and surround sound. As the day started and the pre-game show was airing many customers meandered in tentatively. Hoping that we’d be airing the semi-final contest. “Of course!,” I would say, “We’ll always air the games when I am working!” With this I’d receive a smile and a request for seating. As the restaurant filled up and the game prepared to begin, a lone Chelsea fan stumbled in, as if lost, and found a seat at the bar in front of a slew of Barcelona fans. Bravely wearing his Chelsea top with pride he boldly ordered his meal to jeers from the small crowd of Spanish supporters behind him. The tension in the restaurant echoed the tension on the field in yesterday’s Madrid contest.
video highlights are at the bottom of the page, scroll down.
As the game started ooohs and aaahs reverberated through the restaurant as the flashy Barcelona moves dazzled Chelsea players. Chelsea though, on a rich vein of form, played powerfully driving the Catalans back into a defensive cage. Barcelona didn’t get to where they are now by defending and that being said, they soon took the lion’s share of possession and brought the attack to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Didier Drogba played impressively during the FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham, leading the goal-scoring and taking Chelsea to the finals of that competition where they will face Liverpool. Drogba did nothing but impress playing against players nearly 10 years his junior. Early on the Spanish giants found it difficult to deal with his size and strength up front. Lionel, the lion, Messi was brilliant at times, but with a slight injury in the first half, he was a player a bit off of his game. The two teams pressed hard back and forth, Barca calmly moving the ball up the field connecting pass after pass dominated possession. Chelsea, with quick and powerful counter-attacks looked dangerous every time they got forward.
The lone Chelsea fan said he had planned to meet his friends at the restaurant, but they had apparently left him high and dry.
Undeterred, he valiantly cheered his team on with a large Newcastle as his faithful companion at arms against the rowdy and rambunctious crowd behind him.
Late into the first half, at the very end in fact, Ramires broke down the left side and crossed the ball to Didier, who miss hit it completely, but beat Valdes
putting Chelsea ahead in stoppage time. The Chelsea fan, bubbling with confidence turned and cheered to all the Barcelona fans in the restaurant, quieting them down considerably. The referee ended the first half and Chelsea left the field with a roaring Stamford Bridge following them into the locker room. Barcelona was deflated. Messi pulled up, off of the ball, with a slight injury but decided to continue into the second half.
The second half was riddled with chances for Barcelona and defensive exploits from Chelsea. Di Matteo’s choice to start Drogba over Fernando Torres, inspired by the FA Cup performance, paid dividends as Chelsea held off the powerful Spanish attack to hold out for the 1-0 victory. Chelsea remained
undefeated at home in the Champion’s League and Barcelona had to return to Spain, tail between their legs.
The lone Chelsea fan, in all of his glory, proudly paid his tab, turned and toasted the Barca fans again, finished his Newcastle, and boldly walked out into the new sun. A sun where two giant teams were upset by two teams that have met with many bumps this season domestically. Chelsea will be looking to earn victories in their remaining EPL games and upset the giants of Barcelona when they travel to Spain for the 2nd leg of the Champion’s League semi-final.
UEFA Semi Final Starting Teams Chelsea vs Barcelona:
Chelsea confirmed team: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole, Meireles, Mikel, Lampard, Ramires, Drogba, Mata.
Barcelona confirmed team: Valdes, Alves, Mascherano, Puyol, Adriano, Busquets, Iniesta, Xavi, Fabregas, Messi, Sanchez.
*Disclaimer: (Photo: Reuters / Albert Gea & Jasper Juinen/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!