Torres Torrerizes Barca
They have been called the best team in the world. Sir Alex Ferguson described their style of play as a passing carousel that consists big names like Xavi and Iniesta, Cesc, Messi, Alexis Sanchez et al. But as they learnt yesterday, when its not your night, its not your night.
Its been twenty years since Barça last failed to win after being 2 goals ahead at the Nou Camp in the Champions League. That was the incredible turn around by CSKA Moscow in November 1992. They have twice destroyed Manchester United on their way to lifting the Champions League trophy in the three Champions League seasons prior to this one. But all that counted for naught yester night at Camp Nou against as Barcelona lost to ten man Chelsea who played without a proper center half for over 50 minutes of playing time. They had everything going for them. A two goal lead within the first half, playing against 10 men and a penalty. But it was not to be.
Yesterday's match was one of the reasons football fans follow the game religiously. It had awesome goals only rivalled by awesome misses, red cards and a flurry of their yellow brothers and an exhilirating comeback that was coupled by the sweetest of experiences. An injury time winner!
I watched as Chelsea played the best football club team in the world and from about the first five minutes, I noticed they had a strategy few have used against Barcelona. Manchester United has used it against Arsenal on several occasions but not to this detail. They knew Barcelona play keep ball and chase you when you have the ball. And they let them have it. They did not chase them around because after all, to score, they had to go to their D. For that to be successful, they showed the best defence play I have witnessed in a long time. Keeping to your zone and closing down on Barca players only when necessary.
The result? A frustrated front-line on the side of Barcelona. Messi usual style of play was mostly messed up and his jinx against Chelsea (correct me if am wrong but he has not scored against them in eight encounters) continued. He missed a penalty. That will haunt the little prolific striker for a long minute. Had that gone in, it would have made a difference. And because it did not, it seemed to give Chelsea that added impetus to fight on.
More twists were still to come. Balls hit woodwork, Cech did what he does best and soon, the misfiring Torresist - in for Didier Njambi Drogba - showed what he is worth when he rounded Valdes (most overrated goalkeeper the world over) to cooly slot home. Abramovich must have seen his fifty mill finally count!
At the end of it, they deservedly qualified for the champions league. Did they win ugly? I dont think so. It was a heroic perfomance. If you know a team is tactically superior to you, defence is your best form of attack. Machester United have been torn apart trying to play football with Barcelona. Chelsea seem to have learnt the tough lessons through that book. Credit to Di Matteo! And I hope he gets the job permanently.
Lesson for the day? Spirit, hard work and great team work wins you games. Talent and beautiful play helps but ultimately, it is hard work and great team spirit that carries the day.