Barcelona frustration at textbook Chelsea display

April 29, 2009

Chelsea will feel they are within touching distance of the Champions League final after holding Barcelona to a goalless draw a the Nou Camp in the first leg of their semi-final.

The Chelsea performance oozed professionalism, with Guus Hiddink’s players showing terrific resilience to leave Barca coach Pep Guardiola bemoaning Chelsea tactics and the performance of the referee.

“Five or six players in defence, a lot of players back, physically very strong,” said Guardiola. We tried to attack, we created chances and we presented a good image to people around the world but playing football is always difficult when one side doesn’t want to.”

Neutrals may have some sympathy for Guardiola, but Hiddink would be entitled to look at those comments as evidence that his team did just about everything right.

There were no gifts of the sort they enjoyed in the quarter-final against Liverpool, hence no away goal, but they will go into the second leg at Stamford Bridge with no fear … and against Barcelona that’s half the battle.

What do you think? Are we looking at another all-English final?

PHOTO: Guardiola shakes hands with Hiddink at the Nou Camp, April 28, 2009. REUTERS/Toby Melville


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

I have to say, isn’t football a show first and foremost. Forget being a Barcelona fan, just a football fan. What kind of football is going to be played now? This semi-Italian wrestling style that showed Chelsea today. Granted! Italy has won World championships this way, but I don’t really care. If that’s the way is going to be I would turn off my TV, or not go to stadiums to see this kind of football. I can’t believe the difference of attitude between the great premier league matches that is being displayed every week in England with Chelsea, Man U, etc. And this reduced and fearful approach to a game I love. I have to say it, teams like Barcelona are showing the way football should be played and I would say also that premier league games does that too. That’s way today’s Chelsea’s display should not be rewarded with praise. Being a fan of the premier league, I hope Barcelona goes on and wins the whole thing. Substance over framework, Attack over defense, Creativity over systematic fear. Go football!

Posted by William | Report as abusive

[…] to Source Share and […]

Posted by Barcelona frustration at textbook Chelsea display | Soccer News Info | Report as abusive

chelsea played like they did under mourinho when they were up against barcelona. with the home leg to come it’s a tactic that should be enough to take them through. ends, means, justfied.

Posted by Jamesy | Report as abusive

modern footbal is not all about playx positively need to be technically and tactically disciplined.this era is such that you need to know the strenghts and weaknesses of your opponent and develop a tactics to curtail them, which exactly is what chelsea has done.the 2nd leg is a different ball game.kudos to chelsea for this feat.

Posted by qudus owolabi | Report as abusive

thatnks for the comment William. It is a show, but I think Chelsea played a full part in a night of drama. It was nailbiting stuff, I thought, even if there were no goals. And not every game can be 4-4.

Posted by kevin fylan | Report as abusive

And yeah, kudus. Chelsea did their job to perfection (even if it wasn’t what the neutral would have wanted them to do)

Posted by kevin fylan | Report as abusive

William – It’s naive to think that Chelsea would go and open up in the Nou Camp – teams like Athletico Madrid did it and conceeded 6 goals…

There’s so much on the line in the Champions League so to go out all guns blazing is a rash attitude – the requirements when playing away first is to keep the tie alive into the second leg – Chelsea have done just that.

So to rely on a first leg for entertainment is optimistic – wait for the second leg it’s bound to be more action packed and on the edge of your seat football, maybe not as tactical but for the neutral more exciting.

Posted by Steven Jones | Report as abusive

Where was all the Chelsea pace and power we were promised before this match? Where was Hidink’s tactical know-how and the so-called EPL superiority?

All I saw was Chelsea playing like a relegation team with 10 defenders parked in front of goal. Still, Barcelona created loads of chances and it took a good performance from Cech to keep them at bay…

Posted by Vincent | Report as abusive

sounds like sour grapes from guardiola[also sounds like whingeing wenger}. i thought chelsea’s performance epitomised the great bayern munich teams’ performances, where resilience, accompanied by no little skill, in an intense atmospher came to the fore.
that is not to say that chelsea are assured of victory next week. it will be difficult, of course.
i think jose mourinho would have been proud of such a performance by chelsea.

Posted by peter murphy | Report as abusive

Yes, Chelsea played a tactically astute game but the fact remains that for the neutral, Barcelona are the team you want to watch again.
The return should be fascinating because surely Chelsea can’t just ‘park the bus’ again….nick a goal from a set piece…win on penalties…we are talking Chelsea and not Wimbledon aren’t we?!

Posted by mark | Report as abusive

anybody can say what ever they like all that matters is that chelsea have gotten the result required for now. how on earth do thet expect chelsea to play like barca, hindick have shown that he is technically sound.mark my word chelsea will beat barca and go ahead to beat man-united in the final.the question is who won not who has more ball possession

Posted by perfect | Report as abusive

nobody gave chelsea any chance against liverpool,when they pummelled them at there home some of them shotup there mouth,but when liverpool came to stanford bridge and played 4-4, instead of giving honor to whom honor is due, they started to praise liverpool who was actually fighting like a drawning man. we dont care when we beat barca, let them praise them lie thy did liverpool. bad belle people.

Posted by perfect okezie | Report as abusive

So Chelsea walks into a packed Nou Camp against one of the best teams in the world and you guys actually thought they were going to play offensively? Who cares what Hiddink said before the match, I viewed it as counter-intelligence. Barca is known for their quick counter-attacks and continuously feed the ball to Messi in the middle as much as possible. Why wouldn’t you stack your defense, clog the middle, create a few set pieces, and give a few long balls to Drogba? You can’t counter what isn’t being attacked. Surprisingly enough, it worked and Chelsea almost walked away with a 1-0 lead. I can’t wait to hear Stamford Bridge when Chelsea opens up.

Posted by YNWA | Report as abusive

I have no doubt that the premier league is stronger than La Liga . But surely after that performance from chelsea you cant class them as a big team in world football. All they did was play anti football . With that attitude theyll never be considered a great team, they played like a small team playing an away match, in my opinion they dont deserve to go through to the final . Barcelona vs Man United ,now thats a worthy final .

Posted by Matt Man | Report as abusive

[…] United were not at their best either and will be frustrated at not putting the tie to bed. However, they did not allow Arsenal an away goal and so will start clear favourites to reach Rome and a possible re-match with Chelsea. […]

Posted by Will United live to regret missed chances? | Soccer News Info | Report as abusive

Matt Man, it’s called tactics, have you heard of them?

As far as I am aware they have always been a part of football.

Defense, there’s another word, heard of it? Now, for those football fans that are aware of the Premier League before 1992, they might also be aware of Serie A during the 1980’s. At the time renowned as the best league. “Cattenacio” (excuse my spelling) was thought of as an art in itself.

It’s all football, deal with it and Barcelona simply couldn’t against Chelsea.

Posted by KG | Report as abusive

The fact that anyone is praising Chelsea’s defensive doggedness is pathetic. You can call it football if you want but who wants to watch this tedious hybrid of Italian-style defending mated with old-school British skills (blast-the-ball-up-the-pitch). What a cowardly waste of talent. I’d rather go watch my socks dry. At least in the Arsenal and Man Utd game both teams were attempting to score and the play was relatively open and free-flowing.

P.S. I’m looking forward to Barcelona’s victory in the second leg.

Posted by blastball | Report as abusive

When one scores one wins? You need to create chances to score and at the same time defend your base? A football lover ain’t gonna like a whole team parked in front of the goal post.
Well you can play that way, and there are lot of other ways you can play football. That’s not great football. Continue with this and Chelsea will be just another team in an ocean of coward teams.

Posted by Bobby | Report as abusive

I think Chelsea went into the game thinking that if they tried to play Barcelona at a passing game they would get stuffed. What they did was a perfect example of how you play a @uperior@ team. It’s the way Liverpool played in a uefa cup semi-final against barcelona a few years back, under houllier … it worked then and it stands a pretty good chance this time.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

Chelsea employed disgustingly dirty tactics, quite obviously intending to take more confident, skillful, and pacey Barcelona players on the ball down, as they passed them. This performance by Chelsea, merely disgraced themselves in my eyes.

The referee unjustly let Chelsea players escape bookings for what were intentional fouls (time after time), which seems rather unjust.

Hopefully Barcelona get the victory they deserve in the next leg!

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive

Real’s morale-shattering 6-2 defeat at home to Barca shows that Chelsea and Hiddink had only one option at the Camp Nou: safety first, the one they deployed so well. I expect an even more cautious approach from Chelsea at the Bridge, because they are ill-equipped to trade punches with Barcelona. Football is about winning and at this stage of the CL, it’s not played for the benefit of neutral fans.

Posted by Red Devil | Report as abusive

Such a pathetic show by Chelsea. It was the beautiful game that lost. With the talent at Chelsea’ s disposal they should have attacked instead of giving Barca too much respect. Liverpool would never do that. Ugo.

Posted by Ugochukwu | Report as abusive

Barca are beatable if you have a good defence and quick forwards like Valencia showed. If Chelsea can allow their players play their game, they have a chance of beating Barca especially now that their good central defenders will not be playing. Pity is Chelsea don’t have forwards in the class of Villa.

Posted by Ugochukwu | Report as abusive

New blog up on this now on the home page … 02/game-set-and-match-real-2-barca-6/

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

I am with William: if I were a Chelsea fan, they fielded 11 donkeys in blue, and got a result, I would be happy. But as a neutral, I won’t waste my time or money watching. Surely we want youngsters today to emulate how Barcelona played, not how Chelsea ‘played’ – good tactics or not (anyone remember the 1988 European Cup final?) – but if playing like Chelsea gets results, then that’s how youngsters will want to play when they grow up. As a football fan, and for a better future for what can, as Barcelona has shown, be the beautiful game, I hope Barcelona win.

Posted by Tad | Report as abusive

Although I’m a Barca fan through and through, I can’t help but commend Chelsea in the first leg. They held Barca scoreless at home which is a very difficult thing to do. I was also a bit bewildered by Chelsea’s ultra-conservative approach, however they did what was necessary to hold Barca scoreless. Chelsea is pressuring Barsa to score on English soil which is also difficult. As noted by others, Barca is a bit week on defense now, so Pique absolutely must have a great game like he did in Madrid.

Posted by Mike Diaz USA | Report as abusive

Barcelona always plays such beautiful football. I think they have one of the best offensive line ups in the world. The last champions league final with Barcelona v.s, Manchester united was really a classic game.

Posted by MathieuBCN10 | Report as abusive