UEFA Champions League

April 28, 2009



0 - 0


UEFA Champions League

18:45 +00:00, April 28, 2009

Camp Nou

Referee: Wolfgang Stark

  • 95'

    Chelsea will fancy themselves at home, but because they need to score, Barca will have much more space in which to examine their defence. I'd still back Barca to progess for that reason, but if Chelsea play well then they'll have a good chance.

  • 95'

    Well wasn't that a disappointment. Chelsea shut Barca down well and neither team took the chances when they came. Chelsea's tactics prevented any real sort of spectacle - the game had no rhythm or pace - although there were some pleasant moments.

  • 95'


  • 95'

    Alves is once again writhing on the floor. Barca regain possession and he suddenly recovers.

  • 95'

    Anelka comes on for Ballack.

  • 94'

    Alves crosses well, but Bojan can't get there.

  • 92'

    Another great chance. Hleb is played through while Ballack fiddles with his socks and Cech saves well before Hleb slices the rebound well wide.

  • 91'

    Iniesta threads the ball in and Xavi steps over it, but it rolls through to Cech.

  • 90'

    Terrible miss from Bojan who may be hiding under his shirt, but we can still see him. Great ball in from Alves, and all he has to do is steer it on target, but gets underneath instead and heads it over the top.

  • 90'

    5 minutes of added time will be played.

  • 90'

    Poor delivery and Barca clear.

  • 90'

    Pique fouls Drogba and Chelsea have a free kick.

  • 89'

    For the gazillionth time, Barca are crowded out centrally. They haven't ganged up on Chelsea's wide players as often as perhaps they should.

  • 88'

    Essien finds Drogba, but Pique keeps calm and confiscates the ball.

  • 87'

    Henry is replaced by Hleb. He has a lot of time to count his money, given that he never plays.

  • 87'

    Free kick to Barca 50 or so yards from goal, and Cech punches clear.

  • 85'

    This game has been remarkably similar to the one at Camp Nou at this stage of the competition last season, when Manchester United bored a goalless draw out of a Barca side that didn't have the nous to break them down.

  • 85'

    Xavi's ball is cleared by Drogba.

  • 84'

    Free kick just outside the box. Iniesta plays a one-two with Messi and as he runs for the return, Ballack obstructs him.

  • 83'

    Ballack can't take Malouda's pass, which is behind him, and Barca break, but Ivanovic halts them.

  • 82'

    Bojan replaces Eto'o. Talking of him, there are reports that Barca are thinking of selling him to Manchester City. I wonder what he can have done to merit such a terrible sanction.

  • 81'

    Cech punches clear.

  • 81'

    Barca break and Cech has to parry Iniesta's cross behind.

  • 81'

    Poor delivery from Malouda.

  • 80'

    Malouda chases Terry's long pass, takes it well, and wins a corner.

  • 79'

    This is all set up for Chelsea to nab a late goal.

  • 79'

    Bojan is about to come on.

  • 79'

    Drogba wins a header that Malouda chases down, but Barca clear.

  • 78'

    Drogba is writhing following a tackle from Puyol. If it were still the 80s, he could have a second career as a body-popper.

  • 75'

    Puyol is booked. He'll be out of the second leg.

  • 73'

    Iniesta finds Eto'o and he transfers possession to Henry who takes it, spins, and falls, with assistance from Bosingwa. Could have been a penalty.

  • 72'

    Essien moves into Lampard's position and Belletti will play on the right.

  • 71'

    Lampard is replaced by Belletti. Looks like Chelsea will be very happy with a goalless draw. Although that leaves them open to the concession of an away goal, it's also fair to say that in order to win a Champions League semi, a team would expect a home win to be necessary.

  • 70'

    Pique gets up but heads over.

  • 70'

    Cech smothers when Alves has the ball at his feet. Corner.

  • 69'

    Brilliant run from Eto'o - turns and runs away from Alex, nutmegs Terry, comes back inside Alex, and Cech saves well when a goal looked the likely outcome.

  • 68'

    Messi runs inside and lofts a pass back over to his right flank where Alves is waiting, but he can't manage anything useful.

  • 68'

    Alves curls an effort just over the bar, to Cech's left.

  • 67'

    Lampard fouls Iniesta 30 yards from goal in a central position.

  • 66'

    Messi feeds Abidal, and he hits a dangerous low cross that Terry does well to cut out.

  • 65'

    Xavi wins the ball and plays a nice reverse pass to Alves, but it comes to nothing.

  • 64'

    Iniesta plays a sharp ball into Eto'o's feet (is that you write his name with an apostrophe?) but he can't take it and the ball goes through to Cech.

  • 62'

    Drogba is ok. Well fancy that.

  • 61'

    Cech beats Alves' shot away. Drogba has been lying on the floor in the penalty area during that attack. I wonder if he'll be ok to continue....

  • 61'

    Messi and Eto'o work some space, but when the ball is sent wide to Alves his cross is intercepted.

  • 59'

    Xavi aims at Messi on the far side of the box and his left foot volley is off-target.

  • 59'

    Messi dribbles to the by-line and wins a corner.

  • 59'

    Xavi tries to play in Iniesta, but Essien deals with it.

  • 58'

    Pique plays a lovely lofted ball to the onrushing Alves, but Cech is out smartly.

  • 57'

    Lampard has hardly had a kick today. No doubt he will find something or someone to blame it on.

  • 57'

    Malouda overruns the ball and Puyol takes it away from him.

  • 56'

    Essien wins the ball and doesn't know what to do with it, nor does he have any options, so he slings it back to Barca.

  • 55'

    Alves has been winding up a running feud with Malouda and has had his foot trodden on. Serves him right.

  • 54'

    Xavi takes a knock winning the ball and ALves is rolling around. Perhaps there's a sniper in the crowd.

  • 53'

    Mikel blocks off Toure. Free kick.

  • 51'

    Puyol is about to come on. He was very poor at Valencia last weekend.

  • 51'

    Marquez pulls up with no one anywhere near. Does not look good for him.

  • 49'

    The birdseye view of his head Henry's knock affords us provides a good angle from which to enjoy the recession of his hair.

  • 48'

    Alex catches Henry in an aerial challenge, and after looking dead for a moment he struggles up to a sitting position.

  • 48'

    Drogba into Ballack at the near post, and he heads over from eight or so yards. Good chance.

  • 47'

    Alves fouls Malouda. Free kick to Chelsea down the side of the area on the left.

  • 46'

    Ray Wilkins, Chelsea's assistant manager, said at half time that he'd like Chelsea to play more football. He was nicknamed The Crab, though, before you get too excited.

  • 46'

    Barca kick off.

  • 45'

    Well that wasn't great. Chelsea defended reasonably and Barca's final ball wasn't as accurate as it needed to be. It might improve matters if Barca scored, because as long as they don't, Chelsea will have no incentive to play more openly.

  • 45'


  • 45'

    Great tackle from Iniesta, stealing the ball from Mikel, and his attempted killer ball is just too strong for Eto'o. That's the last action of the first half.

  • 45'

    1 additional minute.

  • 45'

    Iniesta shoots from distance, and it's easy for Cech - which is saying something.

  • 43'

    Henry gets space on the left of the area but his ego got the better of him and he tried to turn Ivanovic inside-out instead of passing or shooting.

  • 43'

    Oooh. Great ball from Henry into Iniesta who slips Eto'o through wide on the left, but he's marginally offside.

  • 42'

    Pique gives the ball away and Drogba runs at him, but Pique gets back to avert the danger.

  • 42'

    Chelsea knock the ball across their back four and give it to Cech to hoof.

  • 41'

    Seeing the chance again, it wasn't a great effort from Drogba - very close to the keeper and at a saveable height.

  • 40'

    Chelsea will not get too many better chances than that. Drogba got away with first half profligacy in the last round, but Barca will not cede possession as generously as Liverpool did.

  • 39'

    And there was Chelsea's chance. Drogba capitalised on Marquez's poor back pass but Valdes got out to block, and then sprung back up to stop the chip he tried with the follow-up.

  • 38'

    Alves and Malouda are also arguing with each other. The stroppiness might make this a little more interesting.

  • 36'

    Iniesta is brought down by Mikel and Toure is booked for his annoyance.

  • 36'

    Henry tries to run Ivanovic on the outside who falls in his way and is lucky that the referee gives a free kick in his favuor.

  • 36'

    Some argy-bargy going on between Alves and Drogba.

  • 35'

    Chelsea are defending deep enough so that Barca have to pick a perfect pass or shoot from distance.

  • 34'

    Messi carries the ball inside - it seems as though he's protected by a forcefield - and he chips a ball through to Iniesta on the left, who knocks it back for Henry to shoot. Cech saves.

  • 33'

    Messi's reverse backheel finds Alves but he's stopped by Bosingwa.

  • 33'

    A few collisions ensue and Barca have a free kick.

  • 31'

    Xavi sweeps it crossfield to Henry, who cuts in and fires straight at Cech.

  • 31'

    Chelsea manage to get the ball away.

  • 30'

    Marquez crosses and Essien heads it carelessly behind.

  • 29'

    Ballack clatters Henry and is booked following the collision of egos.

  • 29'

    Henry finds the overplapping Abidal and he crosses, but it's straight at Cech.

  • 28'

    Alves finds Xavi whose shot from just right of the d swings wide.

  • 27'

    Which comes to nothing.

  • 27'

    Poor corner from Xavi but it drops to Messi on the edge and his shot is deflected behind for another corner.

  • 27'

    Xavi hits it and clips off the wall and behind.

  • 26'

    The free kick is central and about 30 yards away.

  • 25'

    Messi manages to get the ball to move without exerting any force upon it.

  • 25'

    Messi, infield, runs away from Alex, who is forced to bring him down and is booked.

  • 24'

    Abidal shows Chelsea how to hit a long ball, finding Henry free on the left. He runs clear but is too wide to do anything as there's no one alongside him, and Alex is able get back in time to crowd him out.

  • 24'

    The ball zips between all the usual suspects until it's briefly given away. However Mikel returns the ball to Iniesta, who shoots wide.

  • 22'

    Drogba wins the ball well, checting it down. Chelsea knock it around a little and Lampard lifts a pass through to Malouda in the inside left channel, but he's offside.

  • 21'

    For all Barca's dominance, they have yet to create a proper chance. Cech belts the ball downfield nowhere near anyone.

  • 20'

    Henry lays it back to Messi centrally, but he shoots high and wide.

  • 19'

    Lovely play from Xavi - about whom there is something achingly cool despite how uncool he looks - but it comes to nothing.

  • 18'

    Eto'o shoots just wide from 20 yards.

  • 18'

    Chelsea have yet to manage three consecutive passes.

  • 17'

    Messi feeds Alves and his low cross is only just cut out.

  • 16'

    Eto'o drops deep and is tackled by Ballack. The sheer effrontery of someone deigning to challange him seems to have offended him a little.

  • 14'

    Alex robs Eto'o and keeps going, but can't reach the return pass and lunges in on Marquez instead. He rolls around for a while before realising that he's acting the ridiculous hypocrite, so jumps up sheepishly.

  • 14'

    Messi bends it wide from wide on the right.

  • 13'

    Messi runs at Bosingwa for the first time, who is adjudged to have brought him down. Free kick in a dangerous position.

  • 12'

    The game has already taken on a pattern. Iniesta and Xavi pass and move through midfield and find their forwards, who try and work an opening against a deep defence. They fail, and Chelsea hoof it forward to Drogba.

  • 11'

    Iniesta fed by Henry, Cech fumbles the cross, but Terry is on hand to cross.

  • 10'

    Iniesta breaks, feeds Eto'o who moves it on to Henry, back into Messi who's wandered in off the right flank, but he is too hasty with his shot.

  • 8'

    Iniesta to Xavi, out wide to Alves, who plays a one-two with Messi but is then crowded out.

  • 7'

    Lampard gets the ball in space, and it's notable that his teammates guts remain unbusted in terms of their desire to support him.

  • 5'

    Iniesta, who is like Paul Scholes with acceleration, shrugs off Lampard, finds Alves, and he wastes the cross by hitting it behind.

  • 4'

    Lampard tries his usual long shot that's not far wide, unaided by the 17 deflections that seem to carry them in so often. Essien is playing on the right with Ballack abnd Mikel siting.

  • 4'

    Messi wastes possession. Ha! There's hope for us all.

  • 3'

    Once again, though, Cech reminds us all that he's dodgier than a three day old curry with swine flu.

  • 2'

    Very close. From a free kick, Cech flaps and Hnery's header back across only juast avoids going in, but the flag was up.

  • 1'

    Chelsea roll the ball back to Cech.

  • 1'

    We're underway.


    Plus let us not forget that Barca's defence is not great and rarely receives much of an examination in La Liga. If Barca had Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac at centre back instead of Pique and Marquez, they'd have a more reliable feel about them.


    In any case, genius though Messi is, the tie is more likely to hinge on how close Chelsea can get to Xavi and Iniesta in midfield. It appears that Essien may play further forward than usual with this in mind, with Ballack - not given to exerting himself - sitting deeper. To further suffocate Barca's creative axis, Hiddink has also picked Mikel, rather than a second striker or winger.


    Much has been written about how Chelsea contain Messi, but actually Ashley Cole's suspension, as well as gladdening the hearts of one and all, might have done them a favour. Bosingwa is quick enough to keep up on the outside and if Messi cuts inside - as he tends to - then he'll be doing so on Bosingwa's stronger foot.


    Which is a long-winded, self-indulgent way of saying he isn't very tall, and Chelsea's threat at set-plays could be crucial.


    So the major surprise in Guardiola's selection is that captain and Catalonian totem Puyol is on the bench. He is a booking away from a suspension, and it does seem unlikely he'd avoid one over 180 minutes. More probable as a reason, though, is that you'd be unsusprised to see him in your garden wearing a pointy hat and holding a fishing rod dangling into a pretend pond.


    Subs for Barca: Jorquera, Puyol, Gudjohnsen, Bojan, Keita, Sylvinho, Hleb (serves him right for getting ideas above his station). Subs for Chelsea: Hilario, Di Santo, Kalou, Belletti, Anelka, Mancienne, Stoch.


    And tonight's teams: Barca: Valdes, Dani Alves, Marquez, Pique, Abidal, Xavi, Toure Yaya, Iniesta, Messi, Eto'o, Henry. Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Alex, Terry, Bosingwa, Mikel, Ballack, Essien, Lampard, Malouda, Drogba.