Much more willing to put in the work to run at Chelsea’s locked defense and try to make something happen (I’m looking at you, Lionel), it finally paid off when he sent a wicked toe-poke past Cech from the top of the box. He’s quick and strong, able to play anywhere along the front three, likes to have a run and shoot from distance, and can both score and set up goals. There’s absolutely zero, ZERO chance he’s leaving Barcelona, but he’s a player I’ve come to adore watching.
Today’s was an amazing game in a number of ways. It’s incredibly harsh on Chelsea – I almost empathize, and then, remembering the team, break out in a mischievous smile. I delight in schadenfreude far too much. Plus, Chelsea’s hysterics after the final whistle – culminating with Drogba hypocritical enough to call someone else a disgrace – were the icing on the cake.
But they’re not kidding when claiming four penalties weren’t given. Two out of the four were seemed stonewall – a free kick given outside the box for a foul that was inside (I’ll buy that it wasn’t a foul, but if you’re giving it, it was clearly in the area), and a
Even though it was anti-football at times, I thought it completely compelling. Chelsea simply would not break down – and Lampard and Essien were fantastic. Granted, Barca had no plan C – plan A was pass through the middle and bring Messi in (and there was no space for either), and plan B was Alves crosses in from the right (and he was off all night long). But Chelsea played the stunting, stifling game that always seems to work for English clubs.
This is the first time an English club has been knocked out by a non-English side since Liverpool lost to AC Milan in the 2007 final. Last year, Liverpool dumped out Arsenal in the quarters, Chelsea dumped out Liverpool in the semis, and United won damn thing. This season, Chelsea put out Liverpool and United beat Arsenal. This is why I seriously wouldn’t put it past Platini to fix this game.
And Chelsea’s solitary goal was one that deserved to win any match. I’m probably forgetful in the heat of the moment, but Essien’s might be the best non-Liverpool strike I’ve ever seen (I am too biased to judge otherwise). So what if he couldn’t do it again. Volley with his weaker foot from 25 yards, and hit so perfectly that the keeper has no chance. Simply stunning.
But at the end of the day, a one-goal lead is never enough, as Liverpool’s proven before. Fix or no fix (I haven’t decided yet if I’m kidding), it sets up the final I’d much rather see. That it ends with such a stomach punch amuses me – I admit, I’m a petty, petty man who holds grudges.
But it sucks that Barcelona will be missing Marquez, Alves, and Abidal in the final – if today is any guide, the best bet will be to soak up pressure and attack on the counter, probably targeting the flanks with Puyol coming back and both fullbacks out. Which, sadly, is just how United prefers to play.