28 April 2009

A page from Benitez’s book

I’m sure you’ll find more thorough Barca/Chelsea discussion at a variety of other blogs. The Barca and Chelsea Offside sites are probably good places to start.

But I had to point something out about Chelsea's draw at the Camp Nou. Not only was the physical, pressing defensive performance reminiscent of past Liverpool displays in Europe (although Liverpool usually offer more in attack – the 2005 match at Juventus not withstanding), but Messi was also kept similarly quiet.

The coincidence? A right back played at left back, which nullified Messi’s specialty: cutting in onto his left foot. Boswinga was there today, mostly out of necessity with Cole suspended, and the little Argentinean found little joy. In 2007, when Liverpool beat Barca, Arbeloa (in one of his first matches) was at left back (with Riise in midfield), and he completely silenced Messi.

But really, Barca couldn’t make the breakthrough because Chelsea were happy to put so many men behind the ball, Cech played well, and Barca were absolutely profligate, especially in the final few minutes. Simply out of spite, I’d rather see Barca beat any of the English sides, but congrats to Chelsea for stifling Europe’s most impressive club. However, I’d still warn that there’s a lot of work to be done – even after Liverpool’s 2-1 win in Barcelona in 2007, the Catalans won 1-0 at Anfield.


Anonymous said...

I thought of the same thing re: Bonsigwa but I figured it wasn't tactical, just a necessary move due to Cole's absence.

I got tickets to the final so I'm really hoping for Arsenal v Barca but who knows which Chelsea team will show up? Multiple players absent today.

Mike Georger said...

Speaking of books (worst segue way ever), I finally managed to get a copy of Brian Reade's '43 years with the same bird.' Word of advice, buy it. Another word of advice, do NOT buy it through Amazon proper, they say it takes two weeks to ship but they actually just don't stock it. However you can find it new through Amazon sellers for like eight bucks, I got it two days later.

Incredible book thus far, his story about getting Hughes' autograph as a kid is outstanding.

nate said...

You're right on all counts, Georger. Simply fantastic book, but order it from somewhere other than Amazon if you're in the US.