Tuesday, April 24, 2012

You knew this was coming

This was just a piece of Brazilian artistry.

And that was it. That was all they needed. A(nother) Lampard-to-Ramires break, a(nother) brilliant touch by Ramires, a(nother) stunner.

So down goes mighty Barca, already relegated to second place in its own league and now out of the CL competition it has so thoroughly dominated two of the last three years. And on goes Chelsea, plucky underdogs who threw 10 men behind the ball for most of the 180 minutes of this two-legged tie and still managed three goals.

I won't try and be impartial. I gave my front door a vigorous chest bump after Torres' calm finish prompted impish squeals from Gary Neville and a grandiose claim that he had somehow justified his 50 million pound price tag by beating a offside trap that redefines "high water mark." Sort of but not really. He still loafed on defense, was beaten like a caxixi by Dani Alves and generally looked disinterested. But then there was that goal. Ooooh that goal.

Barca can have fewer qualms about being unjustly left without a result. The attack was content to merely produce check-down pass after pass, nobody seemingly willing or able to break Chelsea's tight line with a killer pass, a game-defining shot. Much of that was down to Petr Cech, who's brilliant touch on Messi's low line drive late in the second half was one of many adroit moves, though he didn't have to knock so many direct shots off the line in the second half. And let me head you off at Messi's PK clank: it should never have happened in the first place thanks to a shameful dive from Fabregas. Maybe Drogba shouldn't have gone to ground in the box, but maybe he should have expected Fabregas to avoid a dreadful simulation. But maybe not. This is Barca we're talking.

I will not defend John Terry, who does not deserve to wear the armband. I hope he was reamed out by the men who were forced to deflect bullets for 45 minutes in his absence, namely Ivanovic, Bosingwa and Cole, who's Herculean effort should inch him closer to the team's man-of-the-year award. It was a frighteningly dumb thing to do on an enormous stage, and hopefully Di Matteo finds a savvy backbone where AVB could not.

In any case, Inter proved in 2009 that Barca will eventually run out of ideas if you simply don't allow them a way through. This of course requires a total defensive effort with a field of switched-on men for the full time in addition to a few bits of added luck, which is nearly impossible. But it happens. Much as in 2009 - even Inter being down to 10 men - Barca owned 70%+ of possession and dominated every attack number imaginable. They camped out in Chelsea's half, and the Blues were plenty content to simply ask them to find a way through. It happened once, then twice, then never again.

Woof. I need a drink.

- Will Parchman

1 comment:

chalaron said...

John Terry not being available for the final was the highlight of the semis to me. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.