It was a sad exit for Barca last night at the Nou Camp after drawing 2-2 with a pugnacious Chelsea team. Chelsea now go through to the Champions league final next month in Munich where they’ll meet either Bayern or Real Madrid who play their second leg tonight at the Bernabéu.
You cannot take anything away from the Barca side, though. They played their hearts out and played sublime football which, on a few occasions was quite mesmerizing to watch. Nobody can believe that Roberto Di Matteo’s side, who he has been in charge of for about a month, could knock out the current holders of this coveted trophy.
Chelsea did it with ten men, too. Just after 37 minutes John Terry got his marching orders after a knee in the back of Alexis Sánchez. In the first half the game was more open and it looked like a walk in the park for Barca with goals coming from Busquets (35) and then Andrés Iniesta (45). Just when everyone was ready to go into the break, Chelsea stunned Barca with a goal from Ramires. Frankie Lampard put one of the cleanest passes you’ll ever see through to Ramires in between two Barca defenders for Ramires to latch onto and cheekily chip keeper Víctor Valdés. it was a superb goal and brought Chelsea back to life as Barca now needed an extra goal to obtain their ticket to Munich.
The second half started and Barcelona needed that extra goal and nobody doubted that it would come. Drogba brought down Fabregás in the penalty area and although it wasn’t clear for me, the ref pointed to the spot. Messi stepped up to the plate and the ball struck the crossbar. Then a goal was quite rightly disallowed for an offside from Dani Alves. any of those two goals would have given Barca victory.
With ten minutes on the clock remaining, Barca desperately tried to open up the can and clinch a winner but the West London club was hanging on. With just ten men on the pitch and defending like rabid dogs they reminded me of when Inter Milan beat Barca in pretty much a carbon copy of last night’s game. Chelsea, like Inter, let Barca have the ball and said “come and get it”. Barca did just that but it was very complicated. Drogba was changed for Fernando Torres and it was the Spaniard who received the ball on the break who put the ball past Valdés to seal Barcelona’s fate.
This was the danger lurking in the shadows of last night’s game. A quick break on the counter attack and Barcelona was left for dead. Torres received the ball in the middle of the park and just had to round Valdés and he did it in merciless fashion. That was it, Barcelona were out of the Champions League final and Chelsea, the underdogs, were left to rejoice.
Guardiola has said that he will now think about his future at the club and will make a decision soon. Barcelona leave this year’s competition with their heads held high. I know it’s a bitter blow for the Champions but as Fernando Torres said after the game:
“It’s not always the best team that wins”.
Tonight’s semi final is Real Madrid and Bayern Munich and we are also in for a thriller as Bayern lead 2-1 at the moment. It’ll surely be a tough game for the Germans at the Santiago Bernabéu and the winners will go on to meet Chelsea in the final.