May 7, 2009
Posted: 848 GMT
For all their huffing and puffing, for all their flicks and fakes, it seemed Barcelona were going to leave London as beaten semifinalists. The so-called super team of Europe had apparently met their kryptonite...
And then, in an unexpected twist of fate, the tables suddenly turned. Barca's first shot on target whistled by Petr Cech and into the Chelsea net. It was a knock-out blow just as the final bell was about to ring. The Catalan giants were heading to the final.
Now I can sympathize with Chelsea's players and supporters, since the way in which they were denied a place in Rome was traumatic. I can also sympathize with the fact the Blues should have been awarded at least one penalty on Wednesday night. However, in my mind, the best team won.
There was only one team trying to win this tie. Only one team taking risks. Chelsea were more worried about becoming "the anti-Barca" rather than developing an identity of their own. In the first leg, the way in which they systematically placed 10 and 11 men behind the ball was shocking to me. They were bigger and better than that.
In the second leg the Londoners were slightly more audacious. But still, they spent most of the time sitting back and waiting for a Barcelona mistake rather than going for the killer blow. Even after Eric Abidal was sent off, Chelsea failed to capitalize, failed to rattle their opposition. Didier Drogba could and should have done better with a chance in the second half, however, overall Chelsea were always second best.
A couple of final notes about this tie. Michael Ballack was once again disappointing in midfield. I have no idea why Guus Hiddink has persisted with playing the German international instead of picking Jon Obi Mikel. On the Barcelona side, I was confused by Daniel Alves' attitude in both legs. Childish, aggressive, undisciplined. I think Pep Guardiola needs to find a way to control this fiery Brazilian.
He won't make the final, neither will Abidal as they are both suspended. For now, Barcelona won't worry about that. They are probably still celebrating Wednesday night's dramatic win.
Hey chicos, have a glass of Cava for me. You deserve it.