Chelsea Faces Mission Impossible Against Barcelona in Champions League Semi-Final

mission impossible Chelsea Faces Mission Impossible Against Barcelona in Champions League Semi Final

Chelsea’s win Wednesday night against Benfica in the UEFA Champions League was a victory for the club, Roberto Di Matteo, the Premier League and England. So much was riding on the line. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t impressive, but Chelsea held on for a win against all odds — especially given the forgettable season they’ve had under the management of Andre Villas-Boas.

If Chelsea’s Champions League run ends in the semi-final with a loss against Barcelona, the club will have nothing to be ashamed of. Even if they were able to beat Barcelona, an almost impossible feat, they would face either Real Madrid or Bayern Munich in the final — two teams who are equally capable of crushing Chelsea. Let’s be honest. Chelsea is playing remarkably better than they were just several weeks ago under Andre Villas-Boas, but this Chelsea squad — even if the team was firing on all cylinders — is not in the same league as a Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich.

Having said that, Barcelona looked vulnerable against AC Milan. The Barcelona defense were particularly weak whenever Milan got in behind the flat-footed back four especially when a first-time ball was crossed back into the box from the by-line. In recent games, Fernando Torres has been dangerous when he’s been cutting in from the right wing, into the penalty box. If Torres can play to his best abilities, the Spaniard may be able to unlock Barcelona down the right side. On the other side of the pitch, Kalou offers little threat down the left wing. Maybe moving Mata back to the left could work?

Despite Barcelona’s vulnerabilities, trying to defeat the Spanish side is out of reach for Chelsea, in my opinion. The Blues will be helped by having the first leg of the semi-final at Stamford Bridge where, if they’re lucky, they may be able to keep Barcelona to a draw. But to go to Camp Nou and expect anything other than a convincing defeat is unrealistic.

No matter what happens, Di Matteo has transformed this side and deserves to be given the role of manager on a permanent basis. The Italian has reinvigorated this side by bringing back the veterans (Lampard, Drogba, Essien and Kalou), improving team morale, and helping the team get back to winning ways. He deserves to be given the chance to make changes in the summer transfer window and to rebuild this Chelsea squad slowly, but surely instead of the helter-skelter ride that Villas-Boas had them on.

What do you think? Can Chelsea beat Barcelona? If so, how? Share your opinion in the comments section below.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013. View all posts by Christopher Harris →
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50 Responses to Chelsea Faces Mission Impossible Against Barcelona in Champions League Semi-Final

  1. Ryan says:

    AC Milan was able to trouble the Barca back four, but Chelsea doesn’t have the same kind of or quality of players to do the same task.

    Zlatan is a handful and Robinho’s pace is hard to match. Besides, it is CHELSEA’s back four that need to be worried.

    Chelsea, while better, haven’t been capitalizing on chances and have looked a little too lazy for my taste. Barca FTW.

    • nikeer says:

      Robinho is crap. He was crap at Madrid, crap at City and crap at Milan.He was only good when he played against lesser players in Brazil.

  2. San Franciscan says:

    Chelsea I believe will trouble Barcelona, but Barcelona will destroy Chelsea. Chelsea’s defence is horrible and won’t handle the likes of Messi and co.

    I hate both teams so all I could say is good luck to Bayern Munich.

    • Fernando says:

      So in troubling Barcelona, Chelsea will be crushed. How does that even make sense?

      Barcelona’s defense is not that good either.

      • Efrain says:

        Barcelona’s defense is not that good either?????? Um, they have allowed the least number of goals than any team in La Liga and EPL.

  3. CH says:

    Chelsea has always and will always match up well vs Barca because of how their team was constructed. To my american friends its like how the NY Giants usually are average but still beat the superior NE Patriots. Remember in 09′ Chelsea played Barca better than Man U did, even though Man U was better that Chelsea.Its a game of match ups. I believe Chelsea can win and they will put up a huge challenge but lose 3-2 on aggregate.

  4. vin says:

    does Makélélé have two games left in the tank?

  5. nikeer says:

    Real Madrid fan here and Mourinho put it best when he subtly put that UEFA won’t allow Barcelona NOT to qualify. You have to be delusional not to see that every year they have calls go for them and the calls are not even tiny decisions but huge ones that impact not only that game but both legs.

    • Efrain says:

      Admittedly, Barcelona have had questionable calls go for them….. but this happens to many teams, RM being one of them. Barca is just singled out because, well, they rock.

  6. Fernando says:

    Chelsea have a chance at victory over two legs. However the key is that Chelsea need an advantage heading to the Nou Camp.

    We should accept the fact that Chelsea will lose the 90 min game in Spain but still have a chance to progress to the Final. That’s the scenario Chelsea should aim for and quite frankly it’s the only one where they have a chance.

    Barcelona are a great team but there is a reason they’re not first in La Liga. On the other hand there’s a reason Chelsea are fifth right now.

    The old guard for Chelsea have one shot left and the efforts in the Napoli game is the bare minimum amount of effort needed to defeat Barcelona.

  7. davey says:

    I think UEFA rather Chelsea and Bayern not take part in the final. A Real Madrid-Barcelona final would be the most watched television event EVER. NOT millions will watch but BILLIONS. I would not be surprised if twitter and other websites just plain crash on the day of the final if it was an El Clasico final.

  8. Andrei says:

    As strange as it sounds I do believe that Barcelona is a better match-up for Chelsea than Real or Bayern. Barcelona are not particularly speedy in the attack and rely primarily on on ball possession, precise passing and patient buildup. Chelsea have a chance to disrupt Barcelona domination in the midfield by staying aggressive and disciplined and taking advantage of the experience of their core players. It will come down to officiating to be honest. It depends on if referee allows Chelsea to impose their physical style of play or caves in to Barcelona diving tactics – their typical Plan B in dealing with stubborn and aggressive opposition.

    • CH says:

      Come on Andrei you make it seem like Barca is not that good of a team. Your basically saying that if things dont go well they start diving. Well every big team does this too. Id like to see drogba vs busquets in a diving competition, both teams do there share of acting not just barca.

      • Andrei says:

        I never said that Barcelona is not a good team or the only team that dives. The point is that if the opponent is able to neutralize them in the midfield by applying aggressively physical tactics they have nothing else to offer. Barcelona cannot switch to playing long balls or sitting back and hitting from the counter attack. Granted that not many teams can counter them in the midfield and Chelsea is one of those few who were able to do that in the recent history. When they met in 2009 CL semifinals Chelsea were the better team. Chelsea completely neutralized Barcelona at Camp Nou and dominated at Stamford Bridge. Only atrocious officiating prevented Chelsea to finish off Barcelona and get to the CL final. Nobody is denying that this year Chelsea is weaker version of that 2009 team. But it is essentially the same core players and if allowed by the refs they are quite capable of making life extremely difficult for the Catalonians.

        • Efrain says:

          Andrei, the same tactics you mention being used against Barca have been used by RM. And we know how that story ends :)

  9. morgan says:

    I’m not a supporter of either of these teams. Barca may be a better matchup for Chelsea, and I agree with most of the strategic logic put forth by other commentors on Chelsea’s behalf. But do Chelsea really have a shot? I give it less than 5%. They’re not clinical enough in the few chances they will create (Torres), and their back four is shaky. Benfica picked Chelsea apart playing the beautiful game. I can only imagine what Barca will do to them.

  10. morgan says:

    One goal yes, and they played like crap at home, which Barca will not do. When Benfica played well, they dominated. If Benfica can score one goal, with ten men, playing Spanish style, imagine the damage Barca will do.

    Bye bye Chelsea. Bye bye Fernando the blind Chelski fan.

    • Fernando says:

      I don’t know who that team is so on just that basis and the fact that you don’t capitalize the first letter of your own name I’m not sure how to take your last statement very seriously.

  11. RVPFan says:

    Bad news for Chelsea is that the second leg is in Nou Camp. It’s a task that I give as previous user, less than 5% chance of succeeding. Possession wise and chance creation wise, Barcelona will thump Chelsea. However, we have seen ridiculous things happen in our beautiful game, and who knows this could be one of them. Just don’t concede at home and give yourself a chance in the second leg.

  12. morgan says:

    I believe your last comment is lacking rhetorical substance. Just like if I was to point out the fact that you don’t know how to use punctuation and instead prefer the run on sentence.

    Chelski is a reference to Roman the Russian. Roman is the owner. Cmon now. Step it up.

    • Fernando says:

      Well as we’re not in English class I’m not here to debate grammar etc.

      On the merits of your football insight, you summed it up with the word “Chelski.”

  13. morgan says:

    Cmon Gaffer. That’s my real name. I post every now and again. Check my email address.

    • The Gaffer says:

      I think one of the readers was thinking that you were the author of the article, which is why I pointed out that you were a different Morgan (a good Welsh name)!

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  14. morgan says:

    I believe it was you who called out my grammar. Let’s face it, you don’t like my opinion because you’re a Chelsea fan.

    • Fernando says:

      Look, you made a silly comment. Benfica played a good first leg and they didn’t score. Chelsea played a good away game, kept a clean sheet and got an away goal.

      Benfica failed on the clean sheet in both legs and if they hadn’t shown open dissent to the ref at Stamford Bridge, things might’ve been different. You can’t dominate a team over two legs and score one goal and give up three. That’s not how it works. My issue is that your comment made no sense.

      Barcelona’s defense is their biggest weakness and is being overlooked by everyone. Milan missed a lot of chances and I’m quite sure Chelsea will have the same amount on the counter.

      • Efrain says:

        Fernando, why is Barcelona’s defense their biggest weakness? Puyol is healthy again, Pique seems to be in form, Macsherano is just rocking. Shame they are missing Abidal, but for a lot of short players, I think they defend well… even against tall teams with long balls…. like RM.

        • Fernando says:

          Milan had plenty of chances to score in each leg. It’s a matter of finishing.

          The chances will be there for Chelsea it’s just a matter of how many of them they finish.

          Simple as that. These ties will be closer then everyone thinks.

  15. Ivan says:

    Spanish sides are dominating Europe this season; 2 of 4 in the semis of the Champions League and 3 of 4 in the semis of the Europa League are from Spain. That’s 5 of 8 clubs left in Europe from La Liga.

    Nicely done, La Liga, nicely done!!!

  16. Muna says:

    I totally agree with Fernando. Well done mate. Chelsea will upset Barcelona in one way or another, Puyol and Pique are just not fast enough to handle the likes of Torres or Drogba. Torres is slowly but surely improving, Drogba’s just a powerhouse and Mata links up with Torres superbly.
    My prediction:
    Stamford Bridge: Chelsea 2 : 0 Barcelona
    Camp Nou: Chelsea 1 : 3 Barcelona

    Chelsea will go through on away goals like Barca did 3 years ago.
    Agg 3-3

  17. morgan says:

    First off, Benfica publicly stated they did not play well at home. Secondly, during yesterday’s match, both commentators agreed that Benfica was picking Chelsea apart. Benfica had more total possession even with ten men!

    If you read my comments, you would see that I said Benfica played poorly at home, and dominated at Chelsea, which is what the commentators were saying as well. Are you somehow more knowledgable than the professionals?

    Muna,

    Torres hasn’t had the pace of his former self since he had back to back knee surgeries a couple years back. He was dropped from the Spanish national team, and has one or two EPL goals this year. Drogba is on the wrong side of 30 and being scouted by China. He can still score goals, but one thing he hasn’t anymore is pace.

    And of course Barca’s defense is their weakness, it certainly can’t be there offense now can it? However, it’s not as if they concede many goals is it now? Only one against Milan’s faster, better than Chelsea’s strikers.

    Both you should check out the previous blog, “how I became a bandwagon chelsea fan”

    • Fernando says:

      Where’s the part where you explain that Benfica conceded three goals and only scored one? Still haven’t touched that one.

      If you go by what the announcers that’s fair enough but they’re not always right.

      Once Chelsea went ahead there was no urgency to get another goal b/c they would go through without doing anything more. It was a poor approach that almost cost them the tie.

      Tell me morgan who do you support? If I had to guess it’d be Benfica.

  18. Felix says:

    i bet it Barcelona is the beat team in the world presently and there is no way Chelsea can win Barcelona…Barcelona will beat Chelsea home and away.. im 100 percent sure

  19. morgan says:

    I have no issue with the result of the tie. However, I’m not talking about the result. I’m talking about the performance and how Chelsea will get creamed if they perform like they did over two legs against Benfica. The facts don’t lie:

    Benfica had more shots, time of possession and corners, with ten men. Yes, Chelsea won, but they won’t against Barca.

    Barca are going to man handle your precious Blues because Barca, unlike Benfica, will play the beautiful game, which Chelsea couldn’t defend 11 on 10, for 180 minutes, and do it better than any team in the world. It can not be denied.

  20. morgan says:

    And I’m not a Benfica fan.

    • Fernando says:

      You didn’t say what kind of supporter you were morGan.

      The performance of Chelsea was as follows: Scored 3, Conceded 1.

      But don’t let those facts get in the way. You’re right Chelsea will have to raise their game

      Btw morgaN, you said Benfica played the beautiful game earlier in this thread and you have now retracted that statement with your comment at 723.

      Carefree fella…

  21. Frill Artist says:

    Ummmm…are you guys forgetting that Chelsea managed to hold Barca to a draw until the second leg which was riddled with all kinds of questionable calls by the ref??

  22. AC Milan was able to trouble the Barca back four, but Chelsea doesn’t have the same kind of or quality of players to do the same task.

    Zlatan is a handful and Robinho’s pace is hard to match. Besides, it is CHELSEA’s back four that need to be worried.

    Chelsea, while better, haven’t been capitalizing on chances and have looked a little too lazy for my taste. Barca FTW.

  23. Festus says:

    Evry has right to his oppion. Chelsea with d memories of 09 showdwn with barca, would put up a clash of titans with barca this time. Looking at the 2leg with napoli, you’ll see that they cannot afford to let barca have both side. The way i seing it, the result could turn around contrary to what many people have in mind.

  24. Festus says:

    I have no doubt it gonna be a tough game for both side. You dont write off chelsea they might turn out to be the side smilling victorously at the end. Barca has a chance so as chelsea. 180 minute of play has the final say.

  25. kamanjachaarles says:

    to me i strongly bliv that chelsea will just make it to the final despite peoples,judgements and to those say that the beautiful ones are not yet being born i may prove them wrong because chelsea is there to prove these

  26. atanga says:

    Chelsea all way!!!!!, Barcelona just a cheat

  27. Ian says:

    I don’t understand all of these comments about Barcelona’s defense being weak. In La Liga, they have let in the least amount of goals out of all the teams, including Real Madrid. Chelsea would be lucky to win at home with the way that Messi is playing right now. He just reached 51 goals in the Champions League, being the youngest player to do so, and making him the 3rd highest scorer in history. And Barcelona can’t counter? Trust me, if Messi gets the ball with 1 or 2 defenders between him and the goal, he has a very high chance of scoring. I don’t think Torres will be any risk, as he has been playing like shit. I love how Chelsea payed like 60 million for him. And there is almost no way Chelsea is going to beat Barca away. It would take an absolute miracle.

    And btw, speaking of calls going a teams way, look at what happened today in the FA cup semi-final. Chelsea’s second goal was probably the worst call I have ever seen. Terry should have been sent off for pretty much running down the goalie, and the ball wasn’t even close from going across the line.

    • RobK says:

      “I don’t understand all of these comments about Barcelona’s defense being weak. In La Liga, they have let in the least amount of goals out of all the teams, including Real Madrid.”

      They let in a low amount of goals because Barca maintain possession supernaturally well in midfield, play a high line, press very hard and quickly win the ball back. Also, many teams who face Barca give up on the idea of taking the game to them before the game’s even begun, and often make the mistake of sitting back instead which just allows Barca to run riot in the opposition half. Whenever Real Madrid have attempted to press Barca high up the pitch to stop them from comfortably playing out from the back, Barca’s defence have made silly mistakes. Great example here: http://youtu.be/afsAZF9_KyE Their defence is definitely their weak point but they are just so unbelievably good going forward that area of their team is rarely put under any significant pressure.

  28. Festus says:

    Just watch out, chelsea players are determine 2 paint both stanford bridge and nuo camp blue .fa cup semi final wit spurs has a lot of messages 2 pass across. 180minutes of play has the final say

  29. Festus says:

    Just watch out, chelsea players are determine 2 paint both stanford bridge and nuo camp blue .fa cup semi final wit spurs has a lot of messages 2 pass. across. 180minutes of play has the final say

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