Barca on the attack

Barcelona stars blast Chelsea

April 30, 2009
By Soccernet staff

Barcelona stars Xavi and Andres Iniesta have continued the Spanish club's criticism of Chelsea following their scoreless draw at the Camp Nou, claiming the Premier League club lacked ambition and did not play fairly.

GettyImagesXavi Hernandez in action against Chelsea.

Chelsea's resolute defending earned a 0-0 draw in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final and Barcelona, who had scored 93 goals in 29 games at their home ground before the visit of the Blues, have complained about their tactics and the performance of the referee ever since Tuesday night's draw.

Xavi, who captained the Catalan club against Chelsea, said: "In England they talk about fair play so much. It's a shame that they don't put that into practice out on the pitch.

"There was no fair play from Chelsea at all. We played football; they did not play anything at all. The [Michael] Ballack challenge was a blatant red card but the referee did nothing. We had them holed-up in their own penalty area for the whole game."

Midfield maestro Iniesta also attacked the performance of referee Wolfgang Stark, insisting that he let Chelsea get away with strong-arm tactics.

"Chelsea had the freedom to make all the challenges they wanted," Iniesta said. "We know that referees allow more in European competition than they do in the Spanish league, but there is a difference between that and simply letting teams do whatever they want, which is what happened.

"When I was brought down by Ballack I was in on goal and yet he was let off a second yellow card, which was clear as can be."

But referee Stark has defended his performance at the Camp Nou and insists that UEFA president Michel Platini even congratulated him on his officiating after the match.

"It was a very spiteful contest in some areas and, although I do not advocate ugly fouls or dangerous plays, I deemed that it was normal for a Champions League semi-final," Stark told German news agency DPA.

"I did not send off Ballack [with a second yellow card] simply because there was no reason to. He committed a normal foul and I awarded Barcelona a direct free kick.

"In any case, after the match, a delegate of UEFA told me and my assistants that Michel Platini was very satisfied with our work."

The second leg of the semi-final will be played at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, May 6.