I am in San francisco for a conference so I searched out Mad Dog in the Fog, reportedly the best soccer bar in the city to watch the game. Despite the early kickoff (11:45am) the bar was full and loud with both Barcelona and Chelsea fans.
Some quick thoughts on the game from a Chelsea perspective:
An incredible defensive performance by Chelsea over the two legs. A lot of credit had to go to Roberto Di Matteo and the way he approached the two against Barcelona. Di Matteo did what AVB couldn’t, and that is get the Chelsea players to buy into his system and tactics.
Phenomenal job by Ivanovic and Bosingwa tonight after Cahill went off injured and Terry got himself send off. The whole Chelsea team did a fantastic job denying the gaps where Barcelona like to play, not only tonight but over the two legs also.
Speaking of Terry. In my opinion, you cannot go down as a Chelsea legend if in the two biggest games in the club’s history you miss a penalty to win the Champions League and then you get yourself sent off for an off the ball incident, two minutes after Barca go ahead 1-0. Legends and leaders do not do that.
This was not a two-match contest for Frank Lampard to show his box-to-bix skills. The one time he got forward in the two games, he laid on a perfect ball for Ramires to score at the end of the first half. And boy did Ramires take his chance with class and coolness, chipping Valdes.
Fernando Torres. You paid back a lot of that transfer fee. Sent through one-on-one against Valdes and he kept his cool to calmly round the keeper to score into an empty net and send the Chelsea fans in to bar into delirium.
You cannot give the other team 78-80% possession over the two legs and winning without riding your luck and Chelsea did that. Messi’s missed penalty three minutes into the second half, illustrated that. A Barca goal then and they lead 3-2 on aggregate against a 10-man Chelsea side. But he hit the crossbar, and you got the sense that Chelsea fans and players from that moment on, thought they were destined to advance to Munich.
What did you think of the Chelsea performance tonight?