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Apr 29, 2009

For the first time in this season, FC Barcelona were unable to score a goal at the Camp Nou. A boring but disciplined Chelsea held FC Barcelona to a goal less draw, now they have the advantage of playing the next match at their home. Both the coaches had earlier promised an open encounter but Hiddink realised early that attacking against Barca at Camp Nou can be of dangerous proportion. He send in a formation whose first look suggested that the only goal Chelsea had was to deny FC Barcelona a goal; and have to admit that they achieved the same. FC Barcelona player's post match comments had a touch of frustration to it, but they should really remember that a nil-nil result keeps the tie very much open. That means Chelsea cannot afford to park the bus and watch the game; they have to get out of their half and try to score a goal. Only thing we should be careful would be, not to allow a silly goal like the scholes one last season. If Chelsea venture forward we will have our chances and it was proven right by the two clear chances we had towards the end. But the problem for Barca is that within the next eight days they had to play two high profile away tie, which will define our season. To make matters worse, Marquez has been ruled out of the rest of the season with a knee injury and Puyol is suspended for the return leg.

Guardiola decided to drop Puyol for Marquez in the defense and the rest of the team was as expected. Valdes kept the goal; Alves, Marquez, Pique and Abidal formed the defense. Xavi, Toure and Iniesta formed the midfield. Messi, Eto and Henry formed the attack line. The Chelsea started the game well. In the 4th minute hit a shot from 25 yards out wide of the goal. That was really the only time we can say Chelsea created something. But Chelsea held their formation well and restricted Barca to long range effort. In the 18th minute Eto shot wide after Xavi laid of the ball to him from an Iniesta pass. Messi and Xavi shot wide from outside in the 20th and 28th minute respectively. In the 31st minute Henry tested Cech with a shot from outside the box but Cech was upto the task. In the 34th minute Cech brought out a good save to deny Henry from outside the box. Chelsea meanwhile was trying to feed Drogba with long balls without much success. In the meantime Alex and Ballack got themselves booked for stupid fouls and Toure also got into referee's book for arguing. Then in the 39th minute Marquez nearly conceded the goal when his back pass allowed Drogba to get ahead of him and have a clean shot at goal; Valdes who is one of the best in one-to-one pulled out a double save to deny Drogba. Barca immediately responded with Iniesta releasing Eto for a run on goal but the linesman incorrectly flagged offside.

The second half started the same way with Chelsea venturing forward to see whether they can have a go at Barca goal. Once they found that it is difficult , they retrieved back to their shell and defended all the night out. But for Barca the half started horribly. First Henry was injured in the 48th minute from a whack from Alex. Then in the 50th minute went down after it looked like he has twisted his knees. Guardiola had to bring in Puyol for him. In the 58th minute Pique released Alves with a great ball into the box, but Cech came forward to clear the danger. Then in the 59th minute Messi's volley went high from a Xavi corner. Next was the opportunity of Alves to test Cech in the 62nd minute, but Cech did well to block a powerful Alves shot. Then in the 68th minute Eto who had a quiet night till then, turned past Alex brilliantly in the halfway line and fed the ball forward through Terry's leg and stormed forward; Eto then cut past a back tracking Alex but his shot was saved by Cech with his out-stretched leg. He should have looked at an option of passing the ball to Henry. Then in the 74th minute Eto's great pass found Henry in the box in a promising position, but Henry was pulled down by Bosingwa but the referee overlooked that foul. We had a clear cut case of a penalty there. Towards the end of half Guardiola brought in Bojan and Hleb in place of Eto and Henry respectively. Both of them had clear cut chance to put Barca ahead. The best fell to Bojan in the first minute of injury time, but he could only head high from an excellent cross from Alves. Then in the third minute of injury time Hleb had a great chance but was denied by excellent keeping of Cech.

FC Barcelona would have to find a centre defense combination against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. The best option would be to have Abidal and Pique as the CBs. If our midfield controls the game like they did in Camp Nou, the centre defense pairing will not be put under great pressure. But again Barca players have to be at their best at Stamford Bridge. Everyone expects the game at Stamford Bridge to be an open one, but I doubt. Atleast the first half will resemble this match and if we can remain without conceding a goal the Chelsea will open up. They will not prefer a penalty shoot-out as they may not be that confident with after the Moscow debacle. But I believe Barca has a better chance in the second leg than Chelsea. But we would definitely prefer a referee who is not so much in for physical play.

All About FC Barcelona is a Blog dedicated to the Most prestigous Club in the world, FC Barcelona by an ardent fan. Here I discuss about the Latest happening surrounding our Club and present my Views about the same.

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