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Is Chelsea’s Triumph Against Barcelona A Victory for English Football Or A Sign Of Its Decline?

chelsea fan Is Chelseas Triumph Against Barcelona A Victory for English Football Or A Sign Of Its Decline?

Editor’s note: Is Chelsea’s victory against Barcelona a sign that English football is in a revival, or is it a false dawn? EPL Talk blogger Ahmed Yussuf takes one side of the argument, while I (The Gaffer) take another. Read both articles, and then you decide whose argument is more valid, in the comments section below. We look forward to reading your opinions.

Why Chelsea’s Win Against Barcelona Doesn’t Mean English Football is Revived

By Ahmed Yussuf

john terry1 Is Chelseas Triumph Against Barcelona A Victory for English Football Or A Sign Of Its Decline?

In the recent UEFA Champions League semi-final, Chelsea defeated Barcelona. This is a huge scalp for the west London side. However, it doesn’t pave over the cracks which are facing this team and equally English football.

English football has been in a decline of late, and the fact that they’ve managed seven English finalists in the last eight Champions League finals isn’t representative of this decline. This decline is evident in the style in which Chelsea won. It reeked of thuggery, much like the last team to beat Barcelona in the semi-finals of the Champions League — Inter Milan.

This may have won the west London side a place in the final, but by no means is this a step in the right direction for Chelsea football club or English football.

English football has built their European success on energetic, dynamic and high intensity based football, as opposed to the thuggish and Catenaccio style Chelsea has chosen to adopt.

This doesn’t mean Chelsea is expected to play an expansive style of football. The side has an ageing squad which was built to be physical, counterattacking and most importantly resilient. But, to see the veterans of this side stoop to tomfoolery to win a game is disheartening for lovers of English football and is a wrong perception for football played in England.

English football’s problems result from the lowest levels of the game. England technical director Gareth Southgate said, “We still look for the physical and athletic player.” This has been something said about English football for decades, as they produce technically inept footballers which are usually one dimensional.

Furthermore, the production of English footballers hasn’t been up to scratch, and “One of the things we’re trying to end is the stop-start style of coaching for your kids,” said Southgate. As they try to rectify it with “more games and less talk,” Southgate added.

The English FA have chosen to transcend with the times and help English football progress further. Gareth Southgate said, “We have…to study, have that research, and culturing that through into the game.”

That suggests The FA understands that English football needs a more scientific approach, more studying of the game and a more profound tactical approach. Southgate wants the new training facilities to be called “Club England.”

It’s refreshing news to see that English football may escalate to levels we knew were possible. Football played in England already has so many components. With more study and scrutiny, football in England will only progress. The upper echelons of club football elites might have an Englishman at the helm, opposed to a Frenchman, Scotsman or Italian.

Even though there are a few football manager who are English and doing credible jobs, it needs to be a recurrence if English football has aspirations of development. The likes of Alan Pardew should be educating and sharing their methods and football philosophies. That’s what Club England plans to implement — to join all of English football under one roof.

Maybe if English football continues on this new project, we’ll be talking in 10 years about how England and English clubs alike play an expansive, technical and total football — that everyone associates with Spain and Barcelona.

 

Why Chelsea’s Win Is A Victory For English Football

by The Gaffer 

fernando torres1 Is Chelseas Triumph Against Barcelona A Victory for English Football Or A Sign Of Its Decline?

Chelsea’s victory against Barcelona on Tuesday night is a triumph for English football.

For so long, especially this past season, critics — and especially the English media — have placed Barcelona on a holier-than-thou pedestal, glorifying everything that the club has done on the pitch and romanticizing about how wonderful the sport of soccer is thanks to the Spanish club. At the same time, many soccer fans have fed off the Barcelona and La Liga lovefest by criticizing and lampooning the Premier League and English football, laughing that clubs such as Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal were knocked out in earlier rounds of the Champions League, and talking about the decline of English football.

Now that Chelsea has defeated the mighty Barcelona, what does that say about English football? To me, soccer is not about how you play. Barcelona plays lovely football, but the object of the game is to win. No bonus points are awarded for playing pretty passes.

Chelsea’s performance in both legs against Barcelona was route one football from the 1970′s or 1980′s. English football at its worst, according to the critics. But there’s no rule in soccer that dictates how the game should be played. As long as the English clubs are playing within the rules, anything goes. And in order to beat a team such as Barcelona, the only way to do it is to play a system that prevents them from playing their fluid brand of soccer. That’s not anti-soccer. That’s out-smarting your opposition.

Chelsea can, if and when they want, play a lovely brand of exciting, attacking soccer. Barcelona, on the other hand, can only play one style. So when it doesn’t work for Barcelona, like it didn’t in both legs against Chelsea, Barcelona has no other option. That, to me, is a massive weakness and a lack of adaptability. Criticize Chelsea and English football all you want, but at least the Blues and most English clubs can adapt their tactics to beat their opposition.

While Chelsea’s squad is filled with foreign players, Chelsea is still an English club and still represents England and the Premier League. In the globalized world that we live in, few club teams that are on the international stage are filled with players from their own country. So, even though a Brazilian and a Spaniard scored for Chelsea on Tuesday night, it’s still a victory for English football.

While the foreign players at Chelsea stole the limelight against Barcelona, let us not forget the incredible impact that the English players had on this team. Despite his sending off, John Terry was on top of his game in both legs, giving a heroic defensive display, throwing his body into shots and knowing where to position himself to block Barcelona’s attacks and through-balls. Left back Ashley Cole was equally impressive. So too was Gary Cahill in defense before his unfortunate injury. And what about Frank Lampard? The man, who was discarded by Andre Villas-Boas just a few months ago, never gave up against Barcelona and rallied his team against all odds. His performance was spectacular, especially the beautiful weighted pass to Ramires that led to Chelsea’s first goal on Tuesday night.

These Englishmen will all benefit from the experience and thrill of playing the highest level of soccer against the best team in the world. That they won is such a massive confidence boost for them as individuals, as well as their Chelsea and England teammates.

Tuesday night’s performance by Chelsea encapsulated everything that is wonderful about English football — a never say die attitude, guts before glory, incredible defensive performances, brilliant counter-attacks and, in just 90 minutes, all of the highs and lows of the most exciting league in world soccer — the Premier League.

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31 Responses to Is Chelsea’s Triumph Against Barcelona A Victory for English Football Or A Sign Of Its Decline?

  1. Simon Burke says:

    I’m no Chelsea fan but Inter won the same way (also a man down) and won the thing. Certainly wasnt a sign of decline.

  2. Ben says:

    Anytime an EPL team beat a team from the most overrated league ever La Liga really make my day. Thank You chelsea even if I am a Manchester United fan.

    • David says:

      You mean the overrated league that had 3/4 semi-finalists in Europa League and 2/4 semi-finalists in Champions League?

      The league may not have the most parity ever, but it’s not less predicable than the EPL, and it still holds more quality, which is shown year after year in the European competitions in comparison.

      This year was Chelsea’s year over Barcelona. They played a brilliant game, and many Chelsea critics (myself included) were left with nothing but praise for them yesterday (minus, Terry as always, of course). But we’re all fooling ourselves if we think the EPL has better teams from top to bottom.

  3. MG says:

    BOTH points are valid. One isn’t more right than the other, which is odd. It’s both a decline in the sense that Ahmed describes it (which implies it won’t be replicated in much the same way, a one off so to speak, and that is unquestionably true) and in the sense that The Gaffer describes it, which is also very logical in its approach and explanation.

  4. CTBlues says:

    As a former New York Jets coach once said to the media “YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME!”.

  5. Zipperclub says:

    Kudos to the Gaffer. It was apparent as the game progressed that Barca was going to play yp the middle if it killed them, and it did.
    With an inability to cross the ball in for head work, and not being willing or able to shoot at or beyond the 18, Barca was shown to have a one dimension offense.
    The defensive display put on by Chelsea with all odds against them due to the occurances during the game was stunning.

    • IanCransonsKnees says:

      Yet when Stoke implement the same tactics as Chelsea & gain a victory it’s called anti-football. Football snobbery and two facedness at its best.

  6. Harry Cee says:

    Ok so, I guess my question is, does one game equate to whether or not English football is a triumph or a decline?

    What I saw was a team that managed to improvise and shut down a team that is used to only playing one style of football.

    Good point was made about winning. That’s all that matters, whether it’s en ugly win or a win thru finesse, Chelsea sacrificed a lot yesterday to earn the W and on paper at the end, when you read the scoreline, that’s all that counts

  7. sa says:

    “you play to win the game.”

    style cannot be a consideration when the only thing that truly matters is the objective result. credit to Chelsea for having the proper game plan and executing it to perfection. the same cannot be said for Barcelona.

  8. Ahmed Yussuf says:

    Harry,

    A win with finesse or a win without it isn’t what I’m talking about. It’s the matter they won, the negativity in which they played, and how this isn’t representative on what stage English football is at. It’s rebuilding but all dynasties need time to rebuild, Barcelona hadn’t won La Liga in six years till Rijkaard won them it in 2004-05.

    • [OPTI]Madschester United says:

      I don’t buy the “thuggery” argument. You can say they played conservative/defensive/boring football, but it was not thuggery.

  9. PaulfromMiami says:

    @Ahmed Yussuf

    what thuggery do you speak of? Chelsea didn’t set out to deliberately injure Barca player the way Real Madrid did. How come you not talking about the Fabregas dive that won barca the penalty? How come you don’t talk about Barca’s play actiing?
    Fact is Chelsea came back down from 2 goals with 10 men on the pitch. I dont understand this whole anti football thing. if Barca plays so far up the pitch with 7 players attacking, what do you want Chelsea to do? they already down 10 men, so their only optin was to defend with equal or more numbers.
    And no english football is not in decline. It is just transitioning.

  10. Chicago Yeti says:

    Luis Suarez was vilified and continually berated in the British press for racist language directed towards Patrice Evra. While this was being sorted out by the FA, I was a bit taken aback by how hard every one came down on him. For weeks and weeks I heard about the incident on The Mirror, Guardian and BBC podcasts.

    John Terry has been caught on tape calling Anton Ferdinand a “f’ing black c*nt.” Immediately there is more physical evidence here than there was with Luis Suarez. The press and public seemed to be in a frenzy to bring about a swift disciplinary decision against Suarez. John Terry’s crime was talked about much less. During March the trial was actually delayed until July after the judge considered Terry’s playing commitments for club and country over the course of the next four months! I’ve heard little to nothing said by commentators about Terry’s pending trial during the Championship semi-finals. In fact, until his stupid red card, I’ve heard them singing his praises.

    It sounds crazy, but I feel like racism may be playing a part in the way racism is being dealt with in England!

  11. dust says:

    I dont agree with the assertion that Chelski played route 1 football.
    They were forced in defending most of the game due to Barca possession and relied on the counter attack.

    I will concede the Drogba goal in London from Cech’s kick WAS route 1, Rameries goal in Barca was not. The Torres goal was luck from a clearance not a deliberate long ball using a route 1 attacking strategy, it was the result of a clearance.

    The argument of “it’s not how you play, its the result” I don’t believe either. Discernment, is a critical human attribute when analyzing the quality of anything, and, in football, it’s no different. it’s why football is called “the beautiful game” and not “the lump it forward game”.

    Not using discernment is how you arrive at the opinion Spanish clubs are better than English clubs because of a 2 leg game, or vice versa. Another opinion lacking discernment might be, “hey the earth is flat and has an edge you could fall off”, or “so wer are all agreed then, if she floats she must be a witch, if she drowns she isnt”.

    Thoughts on the game…
    Possession is Barca’s No:1 tactic, it is widely accepted as the best way to attack & create scoring opportunities and as a defensive strategy, by not giving them the ball. This may sound strange, but the fault in Barca’s execution of this against chelski was too much possession and pressure in the same area in the same fashion, it just tightened everything up.

    Like an accordion, it needs to expand to get what it needs to produce pressure on the way back in. Chelski were happy to sit there, they weren’t applying pressure back at barca, looking to burst out and attack each Barca player with the ball. Barca fell into the Chelski 10 man trap, Chelski allowed Barca to have the ball and just said “come on, get through”. QPR did the same thing to Spurs at the weekend.

    Watch how long Man U apply pressure, then get to a point and just pass it backward to the half way line and stay there until they release the pressure and loosen up defenses to attack again. I’m not suggesting its exclusive to Man U. Most great teams are masters at this, Barca have been doing it for a while too, the trick is remembering to do that in the heat of a game, to not panic, but its easier said than done when 90,000 Barca fans are just screaming at you to attack, attack, attack, and the pressure is mounting, you just lost in london, and then at the weekend at home to real madrid. It cant be perfect execution all the time, because of these variables called humans that are playing the game.

    It also doesn’t help not having bigger bodies in the box to win crosses, why they kept going out to Alves to cross in the ball to a 5’7″ Messi is beyond me.

    This game or result is not an indictment of either league, it doesn’t mean the EPL is better than La Liga, there are many other more convincing reasons for that, which i will not get into now.

    This was a great game, and just means that Chelski were better than Barca over 2 games..that is all.
    Although saying that, it could just be that Fabregas is cursed?

  12. CH says:

    This is not an accurate reflection of English football, this is a reflection of Chelsea Football Club. I told you guys 2 weeks ago that they would play Barca hard because of all the teams in the entire WORLD the match up the best versus Barca. I was wrong i didnt think CFC would win and Barca did hit the post 5 times in the series. But this has nothing to do with English football, this is all CFC and how their team is structured because if Man U, Man C, Tottenham, Arsenal, Newcastle, Stoke etc…… played this same strategy the would all get blown the F out. CFC’s team has the talent to execute this strategy. Look at CFC vs FCB over the years they always play Barca well. Last year Messi said he was surprised that Chelsea didnt make the final because he thought they were one of the favorites. Jose Morinho teams are excellent counter attacking teams. This is why Torres doesn’t play well with CFC because he is a possession striker. Since CFC has changed nothing since he left they are amazing at counter attacking. And don’t ever forget they physically are the strongest team in the WORLD. They can intimidate and out muscle Barca like no other team in the world.

    Forget this crap about English football victory… blah blah blah. Give the credit to CFC and CFC alone. Because when inter won 2 yrs ago all of us still said Serie A was a weak league.

  13. CH says:

    This has nothing to do with English football, this is a reflection of Chelsea Football Club. I told you guys 2 weeks ago that they would play Barca hard because of all the teams in the entire WORLD the match up the best versus Barca. I was wrong i didnt think CFC would win and Barca did hit the post 5 times in the series. But this has nothing to do with English football, this is all CFC and how their team is structured because if Man U, Man C, Tottenham, Arsenal, Newcastle, Stoke etc…… played this same strategy the would all get blown the F out. CFC’s team has the talent to execute this strategy. Look at CFC vs FCB over the years they always play Barca well. Last year Messi said he was surprised that Chelsea didnt make the final because he thought they were one of the favorites. Jose Morinho teams are excellent counter attacking teams. This is why Torres doesn’t play well with CFC because he is a possession striker. Since CFC has changed nothing since he left they are amazing at counter attacking. And don’t ever forget they physically are the strongest team in the WORLD. They can intimidate and out muscle Barca like no other team in the world.

    Forget this crap about English football victory… blah blah blah. Give the credit to CFC and CFC alone. Because when inter won 2 yrs ago all of us still said Serie A was a weak league.

  14. [OPTI]Madschester United says:

    Gaffer,

    how can you say something like: “John Terry was on top of his game in both legs”?? Kneeing a player in the back is about as far away from “top of his game” as you can get.

    That Chelsea managed to draw with Barca without Terry should scare Terry a bit… I think English football will be OK (in that FFP will force increase in british technical skills over next 5 years), but Chelsea will crumble next season. Terry, Drogba, and Lampard can only carry them so far before age drags them and Chelsea into midtable obscurity.

    Great win for Chelsea yesterday, but it will be a Pyrrhic victory, I am afraid. AVB was the way forward for Chelsea (birthing pains, if you must) but Abramovic wanted immediate gratification… comes at a cost, which will be apparent next season (if Chelsea do not win the Champions League) or the season after… when they fall out of Champions League.

    Was that too much like George Shreeves :D

    • Paul says:

      John Terry was not on top of his game he was just caught out for being a dirty cheat and the worst part of it is even after it was caught on camera he STILL tried to make out he didn’t knee him on purpose or in a violent manner because it’s not in his nature. What a scumbag. He’s an embarrassment to the England shirt.

      And is George Shreeves any relation to Geoff? ;)

  15. Pete says:

    English clubs went through a spell where they had 3 out of the last 4 in the champions league, so is this year a decline? Yes, but I’m sure there are lots of leagues that would love to have this kind of decline.
    Plus trying to compare teams to Barca is crazy, other teams in Spain don’t even play the same as them, the Spanish league has sucked for the best part of 10 years, Madrid hasn’t been anywhere near a semi final in the last 10 years let alone a final. In the same period 4 English teams have played in a final.

    Facts not fiction

  16. Pinto says:

    The entire premise of the debate is flawed. Chelsea’s win does NOT represent english football, talking about it being a win or lose for english football on the whole is crazy. One team playing like that in one semi-final, out of 35 epl games so far + fa cup run + carling cup run + champions league run (almost 50 matches) that they have played so far and you’re going to assert that this is how chelsea play normally? Those two legs don’t even represent chelsea’s playstyle accurately, forget about the other 19 teams in the epl

  17. Pinto says:

    Also, just throwing up chelsea’s performance and equating it to the state of english football makes no sense. By the same logic, does the way barca play normally or played in the semi equate to the state of spanish football? It certainly does not

  18. kkosher says:

    OPTI- Chelsea is in a state where they will need to rebuild their team, no one denies that. But with the likes of Ramires, Mata, Sturridge, Luiz (i think he will find his place, he is young), Torres (again, he will find it, hopefully that started yesterday) and more they are not going to crumble.

    Your argument could apply to Manchester United as well, you are just to biased to notice it. Hernandez has shown he only has a talent for poaching, Welbeck has shown he is unable to create his own shot and has a complete lack of creativity. Your midfield is lethargic, which the exception of the come (and mostly) go Young.

    If we want to base things off bias then its fair to say without the Refs as an extra player United would not even be in contention for the title. I am a Chelsea fan, but i can recognize where we need to improve, as well as give credit to Man U, who really has a sub par team (for Man U standards) but has managed to grind out the necessary results (with a little help).

    • [OPTI]Madschester United says:

      panties in a bunch??

      United’s transition team is leading the table after 35 games. Chelsea’s “transition team” (of 25 year old Ramires, 23 yr old Mata, 22 yr old Sturrigde, and 28 yr old Torres etc..) under AVB was struggling in the Premier League and still is under RDM [note: struggling implies fighting for 4th place]. Lampard and Drogba have kept Chelsea afloat in Champions League, which you cannot expect over the next season or two — because Drogba and Lampard and Terr . Keep believing Chelsea is anything close to United or that United are at all close to Chelsea, if that gets you through the season/year/day/week — or just savor this last month of “Chelsea-at-the-top” before next season will put a depression around Stamford Bridge…

      RDM used (perfectly!) Mourinho’s Inter tactics and Mourinho’s Chelsea players and a bit of luck to defeat Barca (deservingly, of course); however, the cracks are showing.

      Cech has had a poor year bar the Barca semis. Utd’s De Gea will only get better.
      Terry, Lampard, and Drogba are aging with effects (fighting for 4th place), while aging Giggs and Scholes have not been replaced and their replacements maintained the title-winning charge in their absense (unlike Chelsea’s core for Luiz, Mata, and Torres/Sturridge, who could not perform under AVB and have had minor roles under RDM).

      Rio, Evra, Fabio, Rafael, Jones, Evans, and Smalling have shown that despite their youth (and Vidic’s absence this season), United can still compete and the latter 5 will continue to improve with age.

      In midfield, Chelsea got Mata and still cannot replace Lampard/Essien. United have not replaced Giggs nor Scholes…

      “useless” Chicharito (10) and Welbeck (9) have outscored Chelsea’s top scorers (if you remove penalties from Lampard who is at 11 goals, sturridge at 10, and Mata at 6) in the Premier League. Same boat ;)

      Ergo, United will improve next season with minimal signings (CM) and are not in same boat as Chelsea :roll:

      Enjoy the next month and treasure it…

  19. eplnfl says:

    I have to feel this has not been a great year for English football. The NFL owners in the league may be trying to impose parity like they have in the NFL. That means everyone is at the same disadvantage.

    Unless the major European leagues all play with the same financial rules you will not see the English be able to stay on top of the football world. The new breed of owners will want to ensure their investment not just simply spend as much as you want.

  20. Joe956 says:

    I am a United fan but have to take my hat off to Chelsea. Magnificent performance. Let’s not read too much into their victory in comparison to English football, that’s not fair to these lads. It just was a great, gutty game by a determined group of players.

  21. brn442 says:

    It’s annoying when the question is asked based on just TWO matches between TWO teams.

    What would have happened to the writer’s thesis if Messi hadn’t missed that penalty?

    The writer then tries to – in the most laughable way – link Chelsea’s “thuggish” style of play to his rant about “technically inept” English Footballers. It doesn’t matter that Chelsea has had an average of two (Non-British) managers a season since the departure of Mourhino or, that Chelsea is currently without a manager and the obvious coherent footballing philosophy that comes with having one.

    The fact that The Blues’ player ranks have been filled with mostly foreigners for over ten years and the club hasn’t had an British manager since Glenn Hoddle 15 odd years ago means nothing – NO, Chelsea’s style of play, as per the writer, is the logical result of the FA’s 40 year history of apparently drowning young English boys who happen to possess a low centre of gravity and a decent left foot.

    I don’t even have the patience to address England’s supposed decline in Europe.

    And another thing – what “thuggery” is the writer referring to with respect to Inter? -Tiago Motta’s hand incidentally grazing Busquet’s chest – resulting in the player going down as if he were shot, resulting in Inter having to courageously defend at the Nou Camp with 10 men? Surely not.

  22. Billy Baroo says:

    Point of clarification regarding the Inter/Barcelona tie back in 2010 – Inter did maul Barcelona 3-1 at the San Siro in the first leg. There was no “thuggery” at all. In fact, it could have been worse.

  23. ish says:

    i guess the idea was that english clubs in general were in decline when gauged against the top 2 spanish sides, as those 2 were seen as the best in the world.
    it simply comes to money. barcelona and real madrid earn more then any english club bar maybe manU, they are stable in terms of being around for ages and can attract any player. when english clubs were strong the pound to euro conversion was excellent and the revenue from the EPL was compariable to what the other clubs got. As the pound lost strength the other countries gained in financial clout.

    Of the english clubs that normally challenge only chelsea and manCity(now anyway) can afford to spend at the level of the spanish clubs in terms of transfers or wages(barcelona has a massive wage bill), the rest have to watch spending.

    In terms of england not having technical players, that is true in some levels of the league but watch some of the top teams youth teams sometimes. chelsea, manU and arsenal have massive amounts of mainly english talent that are great on the ball and have excellent movement with an eye for the pass and move.

  24. RobG4 says:

    English Football?

    Owned by a Russian
    Ran by an American
    Coached by an Italian

    Cech, Ivanovic, Bosingwa, Meireles, Mikel, Mata, Torres, Drogba, Kalou, Ramires, etc etc

    If you mean stylistically, Chelsea hasn’t been an “English Football Team” in over a decade.

    Just like the other top squads in Europe, it brings players, coaches, and styles from wherever it can to win.

    The owner wants nothing more than to replicate Barcelona, or barring that, Arsenal.

    Hats off to them. I was cheering my head off when they beat Barcelona.

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