Game in a sentence
In one of the greatest games of football you will ever see magnificent Chelsea defied all of the odds to knock out holders Barcelona and book their spot in the final on May 19th.
- United States beat Russia on the ice in 1980, Buster Douglas beat Mike Tyson in 1990 and Chelsea knocked out Barcelona in 2012 with ten men at the Nou Camp. This was more than just a football game, folks. If you see the scoreline you may not understand the magnitude of what happened in Barcelona on this night but this was a defining moment in this tournament and in the history of these two football clubs.
- This was one of the most astonishing games of football you will ever wish to see and arguably the greatest night in the history of Chelsea Football Club. The world’s best player missed a penalty, the Chelsea captain was sent off for violent conduct after 37 minutes and the 10-men of Chelsea not only came back from 2-0 down, they actually drew the match and beat 11-men Barcelona 1-0 in the second half, without really having the ball. And to top it all off it was Fernando Torres, of all people, who put the final nail in Barca’s coffin.
- Barcelona were slaughtered by their press after the weekend loss to Real Madrid but that will seem like nothing to the reaction this result will get in Spain.
- Pep Guardiola’s team were up 2-0, ahead in the leg 2-1, against a side with 10 men, who had lost their best defenders, and couldn’t score. Yes, Chelsea were great but the holders were average at best in the second half and such a performance could have a dramatic affect on how they play in the next few years. For all of their brilliance, there was no flexibility from the way they attacked, they had far too few overlaps, crosses into the box and were once again too narrow. It took the 10 men of Inter to defeat them in 2010 and now the 10 men of Chelsea have defeated them as well.
- But credit must go to Chelsea. Only a team united both on and off the field can get through a game like this. It’s incredible to imagine this is the same team that two months ago were battered in Naples. Except, it’s not the same team.
- Roberto Di Matteo deserves all the credit in the world for getting his team to be so disciplined and organised and empowering his senior players. That is where Andre Villas-Boas failed but the Italian’s relationship with his older players showed today.
- Chelsea lost both centre-backs, one injured and one sent off. They played the second half with a back six with three central midfielders in front of them and invited all the pressure Barcelona gave them and barely buckled.
- For the majority of the second half Salomon Kalou played right back, Ramires, Brainslav Ivanovic, Jose Bosingwa & Ashley Cole played a squeezed back four and Didier Drogba played left back. Drogba made their only error of the second half, giving away a penalty but incredibly Lionel Messi blasted the spot kick off the bar.
- Ramires, one of four players who will not get to play in the final on May 19th due to suspension, was the pick of the bunch for me, scoring a brilliant goal at a crucial time that sent the team into the dressing room at half time with belief. At the moment, Barcelona had scored two goals in eight minutes and in between captain John Terry had been sent off for violent conduct.
- Terry’s knee into the back of Alexis Sanchez off the ball was moronic as he let the entire club down at a crucial moment. Chelsea’s remarkable comeback means his punishment now fits the crime as he will be forced to sit out the final in Munich.
- However, as Di Matteo said so rightly after this match, this is not a day to talk about who will be missing for that game. Chelsea’s performance on April 24th, 2012 in Barcelona will be talked about and written about for decades. It was that good. It was the kind of performance fans of all football teams can only dream about seeing. After all, they put an end to’ the greatest team of all time’ debate in one monumental half of football. The Miracle on Ice had Al Michaels and this one had Gary Neville. Take it away Nev.
- Frank Lampard
- Petr Cech
Six Super Stats
- Chelsea reached their second ever CL final, after losing on penalties to Manchester United in 2008. They won their other three European finals, the 1971 and 1998 Cup Winners’ Cup and the 1998 European Super Cup.
- When Chelsea reached the CL final in 2008, they also sacked their Portuguese coach during the season (José Mourinho and André Villas-Boas).
- Chelsea can become the first London club to win the CL. The only other club to win the competition in the same year in which their city hosted the Summer Olympics was FC Barcelona in 1992.
- When Munich hosts the CL final, there has always been a first time winner of the competition. This happened in 1979 (Nottingham Forest), 1993 (Olympique Marseille) and 1997 (Borussia Dortmund). This also bodes well for Chelsea’s chances.
- Lionel Messi has now missed eight of the 33 penalties he has taken for Barcelona.
- Chelsea are without the suspended John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Raul Meireles and Ramires in the final. The previous record for most suspension in a CL final was three in 2009 – Dani Alves and Eric Abidal for Barça and Darren Fletcher for Manchester United.