In a battle of opposites, Barcelona FC failed to breach a determined Chelsea backline after trailing by a solitary goal ,in the second semi-final 1st leg encounter of the UEFA Champions League, which was played at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night.
Chelsea executed their game plan to perfection, and thwarted any Barcelona move on goal,with the famed and feared trinity of Xavi Hernandes, Andres’ Iniesta and Lionel Messi failing to make any impact on the game.They did however created most of Barcelona’s chances, and it was a combination of dogged defending and luck which prevented The Catalans from scoring on at least two occasions.In the first half, it was Alexis Sanchez who latched on to Iniesta’s lofted pass, and lobbed the ball over an approaching Petr Cech.The opening goal seemed destined, but the ball hit the cross bar and cleared by a Chelsea defender.And in the late stages of the game, Pedro Rodrigues was denied by the far post, to seal Barcelona’s fate.
Barcelona had the majority of possession, a whooping 72 % overall, but the Blues were determined not to allow the away side to convert the possession into goals. The home team took a surprise lead in stoppage time of the first half(47th min),when on the counter attack, Ramires ,displaying exceptional ball control, passed the ball wide to a waiting Didier Drogba, who turned with his wrong foot. Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes did get a touch but could not prevent the ball from going in.That triggered the Catalans’ all out attack for an equaliser, with each attack proving more and more menacing.
The second half saw wave after wave of the Barcelona forward line, and each time Chelsea rose up to the challenge. Gary Cahill, in particular was impressive, keeping a tight leash on the ever bustling Messi. Petr Cech also had a busy day, parrying and saving many goal-bound shots by Barcelona.
In the end ,the Drogba goal was enough for Chelsea to place one foot in the Champions League Final, and the Blues now travel to Camp Nou for the away leg, to be played next week.