Can FC Barcelona Prevent Another All-English Final?

On paper, FC Barcelona could be the world’s most formidable attacking side. Messi, Henry, Eto’o, Xavi, Alves, Iniesta, Abidal. Some of the most prestigious names in world football and are among the great wealth of talent in Barcelona’s ranks. They have been a dominating force this season with 24 wins, 3 draws and 3 losses, and while they only enjoy a 6 point lead over second place Real Madrid, they have an 18 point lead over third place Sevilla FC. Like Real, Barca remain an absolute giant in Spain.

But when Barca face Chelsea on 4 April and 6 May in the Champions League semi-finals, it will be a clash of league styles. EPL v. La Liga. And the change in context could be all the difference. Just as we saw an in form Real Madrid crumble against Liverpool, FC Barcelona may be in for a thrashing against Chelsea if they can’t stand up to the English pressure.

While Barca have played well throughout the Champions League so far, they have yet to face an English side in the current campaign. Playing Chelsea will be the ultimate test this season. If they get get past the London giants, they can certainly challenge for the trophy against United or Arsenal. But Chelsea could prove to be the hard wall upon which Barca’s European campaign crashes.

Barcelona’s flourishing attacking play relies on a greater allowance of time and space. In La Liga this is available. In the faster paced Premier League it is often scarce.

Chelsea’s players are big and hard and will dominate on and off the ball. There will be less time and room for fancy moves and beautiful footwork. Quick passing, clear vision and strength are keys to breaking down a top English side. Barcelona generally like more time on the ball than Chelsea’s domestic opponents tend to enjoy.

Barcelona also leave a great deal of space in their wake, with midfielders and wide defenders constantly pressing forward, there is a lot of room in the back for Chelsea to exploit with counterattack.

Barca’s best weapons to overcome the Blues are Henry, Puyol, Xavi, Eto’o and Messi.

Henry’s skill is undeniable, but his experience against Chelsea after so many years in the EPL is of the utmost importance as well. He’s used to EPL tactics and he could spot the opportunities and spark a lot of chances.

Defense is probably the weakest aspect of the attack-minded Barcelona’s game, but Puyol has the experience and vision to see problems coming and break them up before they turn into a goal.

Xavi is able to play as a more defensive midfielder while being the consummate playmaker. He’ll play an important role in Barca’s fight for possession while he looks to set convincing attacks in motion.

Eto’o is simply a goal-scoring machine. He’s only put three away in the Champions League so far, but he’s scored 26 in La Liga with eight matches still remaining. One of the world’s finest finishers, he’ll have a keen eye for goal and be eager to cause Chelsea as many headaches as possible.

Messi is one of the most exciting young players in the modern game. His dazzling skills, quick mind and fearlessness all make him an eternal attacking threat. He’s one Barcelona player who may not suffer from the reduced amount of space and freedom that comes with playing against an English side as he’s unafraid of charging into traffic and can create deadly chances under the most intense pressure.

Barca’s best chance will be to maintain decent possession and create as many chances as they can while they have the ball. They certainly have the talent to score goals off the faintest of opportunities.

I fully expect Chelsea to score goals on the Spanish giants, but if Barca can keep Chelsea off-balance with persistent attacking, they may score enough themselves to compensate for their own defensive porousness.

27 thoughts on “Can FC Barcelona Prevent Another All-English Final?”

  1. Worst analysis of a football match ever. Period. Barcelona have been able to hold chelsea before, so why not this time? After all this barcelona team is far more superior to any barca team ive see in the past few years and even then they were one of the most dominant forces.

  2. I would be shocked if Barca went through.

    That having been said at this stage anything is possible. A sending off or a bad penalty call could change things quickly.

    But on the surface Chelsea should slaughter them. Hiddink is the best tactical manager on the planet and he is going up against an amateur.

  3. Barcelona knocked out Chelsea and Arsenal in 2006, but in the campaigns since Barca been ousted by Liverpool and Manchester. I argue that the English league has become tougher and the top English sides more dominant. This will be the fifth final in a row that has at least one English side in it. I think this is a trend that’s likely to continue.

    I wasn’t trying to make a point about who would go through as much as trying to point out that Barca have not had to face an English side this season and Chelsea will be the ultimate test: can they stand up to one of the best sides from the fastest paced, most intense leagues in the world? Up until now Barca have looked fairly unstoppable. But the true measure, in my opinion, will be when they face an English side.

  4. Kartik Krishnaiyer its obvius you don’t know shit about footbal. its tru that guus hiddink is a great coach butt didn’t you see how pep showd so many times that experience isn’t a factor whit him. i mean klingmans is a great coach too , oke not this term but if you look trough the rest off his carreer you can cal him a good coach. and stil barca crushd byern. barca will win for shure. and people come on whit alves puyol an abidal the have a devense that can hold on chelsea’s attack, only lampard could be a problem.

  5. Very poor analysis. First of all, you’ve stated that you expect that, like Real Madrid, Barcelona could be ‘thrashed’ by Chelsea. Do you even know the meaning of the word ‘thrash’? It’s OK to suggest that Chelsea might defeat Barcelona, but thrashing?!?! Are you out of your mind?

    Chelsea’s defence, on current form, is as ‘weak’ as Barcelona’s. How you make the analysis that despite less space, Chelsea will score a lot of goals against Barcelona is beyond measure.

    Secondly, you say that Messi is one of the finest young players on the planet. Have you even watched him play? He’s not the finest ‘young’ player on the planet. He’s the best player in the world, in any age category.

    You even start off with such a stupid, dumb, juvenile comment – On paper?!? On paper. Have 129 goals by Barcelona been scored on paper or in Football Manager!?!

    However, what better can one expect on EPLTalk? The bias is overflowing….

  6. Take it or leave it, Home and Away Barca will beat Chelsea! The attacking power of this current Barca is too much for Chelsea to contain (if really you are following Chelsea and Barca games). The trio of Messi-Eto-Henry plus the midfield brilliance of xavi and Iniesta will do the needed job for Barca (mark my words). I don’t see Chelsea surviving this time around.

  7. Barca is a very good team no doubt about it. They have very skillful players and their strenth lies in the fast pace and messmerising moves of messi and overbearing midfield prowress of iniesta. Generally, the team lack strength and pace that can cortail any of the big four in the premier league. I think in two legs chelsea fc should go through. Chelsea’s team is complete, they might not be entertainers but play result oriented game. with their strength from world class midfield players like lampard, ballack and essien. simply too much for any barca midfield.

  8. I am really surprised by the sentiment that there are doubts over Barça. They have always been the team to beat in my eyes this entire time. Cashley Cole is also unavailable for first leg so their defense as mentioned is just as vulnerable and I am not convinced despite their stifling of my club in the FA Cup (If you did not catch the Cole reference beforehand) that Cech has his groove back. I expect entertaining matches but I take experience over mercenaries.

  9. Barcelona have played against english teams plenty of times, especially chelsea. Last yeat Man U display of football against Barcelona was embarrasing. Even when they played at Old Trafford, they just defended while hoping for a counter-attack (that’s why so many people hate english teams, when they play a better side than them they look like serie A teams). That tactic will not work again against a much better Barca team. It’s goning to be a great match and whoever goes through will win the CL

  10. Ethan you’re not telling us anything we don’t already know!
    I believe there will be a lot of goals, reminiscent of their previous encounters but I think that if Barca score first in each leg, they’ll go through.

  11. This is nothing but a prejudiced analysis of barcelona FC. Barca is capable of beating Chelsea. People keep saying Barca lacks defence yet it is one of the teams which has conceded the least number of goals anywhere. Football analyst should realise that the best way to defend is to attack, and this is what Barca does. Barca will certainly not fall to Chelsea like Madrid because everyone knows Madrid started on a wrong foot. barcelona does not thrive on allowance of time as postulated here but creates allowance to utilise in scoring. Chelsea formation usually with one man up-front are poor finishers always struggling to put the ball inside the net. Possession is the best asset of Barca which the world will see. Barca will defeat Chelsea.

  12. There’s some fuzzy logic going on here. Yes, the top four teams in the premiership are very strong, despite the sharp dropoff afterward. but that doesn’t mean those teams are automatically better than Barca, who have less competition domestically, as a result.

    One of the most surprising aspects of this tie (to those with premier-league blinders) will be the speed, of mind and foot, at which Barca plays, and each individual players’ ability, including the defenders, to play in and out of incredibly tight spaces.

    Have you ever tried to catch a rabbit or squirrel on foot? The same principle is in place when it comes to Barca.

    Although not as tall or as strong as others, including Chelsea, Barca players have a distinct advantage when the ball’s at their feet, and their ability on the ball is why they’ve dominated possession and controlled the pace of every game so thoroughly to this point.

    Real Madrid don’t have this ability. They’d like to think they do, and premier-league pundits seem eager to assert this as the case, but Schneider, Gago, and Lass in midfield are nothing near the string-pulling prowess of Xavi, Iniesta and Yaya. Toss in Messi, Dani Alves, Henry, Eto’o, and add Marquez, Pique and Puyol’s comfort on the ball, and you’ll see they have a lot of capable outlet options before having to play hopeful balls forward — which they almost never do.

    Lastly, and with all that said, what separates this Barcelona from its past versions, is the hard work and effort they put into recovering the ball once they lose it, and the steel they have mentally. Last year’s team could be frustrated by the negative tactics of Man U and others, and let their collective heads fall, but this team keeps pushing with a pace and overall class on the ball that even English fans will soon be able to appreciate.

    Good try, my fellow Ethan. But you’ve gotta know a team in order to write accurately about them.


  13. In two weeks period there is going to be good thing to talk about after chelsea beats Barca-FC. .Mark my word ,Chelsea is dangerous now and ready to make it through at all times.

    Thanks ,see in two weeks .
    Bye for now.

  14. yes barcelonia can do it because now god is doing our own i love love you and i knewn everythings is possible i agree will will make it in this semi with chelsae. from abiola

  15. yes will can do it, it depends on our boyz and there perfomance because if they work hard i know will will successed because god help those who help themself, my prayer for our player is that none of them will not have injuired and i pray that on that day of first leg with chelsea god of soccers will be in ourside. my dream for my club is that will are going to the final of champion league because will have enough player who deserve it such as lionel messi xavi bojan eto henry and so no i pray that god will let it workout.

  16. I am glad this post has sparked a lot of conversations, but am taken aback that I’ve been accused of being naive and biased in regard to Barcelona (and, by implication, in regard to La Liga).

    While the EPL is my favorite league and the one to which I devote most of my viewing and writing time, I love watching La Liga as well and take it in as much as possible and Barcelona is one of the most broadcasted Spanish sides for American viewers, so I watch them quite a lot.

    I feel the Barca supporters who have responded to my article have gone too much on the defensive. My intent was not to belittle or berate Barca. Far from it. I have the utmost respect for the club and their approach to football.

    My main point was that Barca have not had to face an English side this year and that the style of play of the English league has a more physical and aggressive nature and that Barca will likely look a much different side compared to the way they’ve played against Spanish sides (and even the likes of Bayern Munich for that matter.)

    The Real Madrid comparison was valid in that Real were in great domestic form before they faced Liverpool and Liverpool scored five unanswered goals.

    This raises legitimate questions in the idea of La Liga sides facing EPL sides and I was merely pointing out that Barca, who have looked unstoppable in their footballing year so far, could be in for a rude awakening.

    And I will say here, I actually would prefer Barca to go through just so it isn’t another all-English final. And my points at the end about Barca’s best weapons were made in that spirit. Not me being wishy-washy or saying “Barca may go through or they may not”.

    Barca seems to be considered the best team in the world, but they haven’t beaten an English side in recent memory, and, in my opinion, the English League is producing the teams to beat.

    No writer can confidently predict the outcome of this leg. On the day, anything can happen.

    But I say Chelsea should be deemed the favorites based on the league styles of play. If Barca knock them out, I will be happily surprised.

    It’s a matter of context. Not bias against one league or another.


  18. Chelsea has the abilty to beat barca over the two legs. Forget about fancy football, barca can have two thirds of the ball possession if they like! Players like Frank Lampard and Ballack give out very good long balls and Drogba knows exactly what to do with them so it should never come out as a surprise when they are knocked out.

  19. To all those who thought Barca were going to trample all over us, well, they’re obviously dissapointed. Yeah, I know how you guys will be going on and on about the ball possession Barca had, how Chelsea defended for majority of the game, blah blah blah…… but that’s just football! Discipline to the core, and was displayed by each and every Chelsea man. We really frustrated them and its quite unfortunate that’s not going to happen in our home tie. We’re going to show Barca (and the world infact) “Football brewed in an English Pot” for all to judge the best league in the world. There’s more to football than “champaign soccer”.

  20. The best display of anti-football in a while. Well done Chelsea! Keep that up and youll just get destroyed on penalties. They shot themselves in the foot because now Chelsea have to attack at the bridge and as soon as they do that Barcalona will carve them up. You could see it yesterday. Even though they didnt score Barca looked the better team. he only way Chelsea will in is by Barca’s defensive mistakes rather then Chelsea’s skill.

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