Date: 20th February 2018 at 9:44pm
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The talking was over and the time had finally arrived for the action to begin. Antonio Conte, with his team selection, was either poking Roman Abramovich with a stick or pulling a masterstroke.

The initial signs were the former as Barcelona stroked the ball around and Lionel Messi roamed free. The Argentinian had never scored against Chelsea but looked like a man on a mission.

Chelsea survived the first 20 minutes as Barcelona tried to pass them to death, grabbing a 75:25 possession ratio. It looked as though there were two extra red shirts on the pitch. Add into that Chelsea`s desire to join in the fun by passing to the opposition and the evening looked like it could be a long one.

The best chances though, were falling Chelsea`s way. Hazard speculatively shot the across the Barca goal before Antonio Rudiger managed a header, close-in that he could have done better with. Chelsea were warming to the game. The chances kept coming the blues way, Willian, who, excuse me, was having a great game was cynically scythed down by Ivan Rakitic as he ran on goal.

It was an opportunity for Marcos Alonso to rev up his shooting boots. The ball was a bit further out than he would maybe like, but it was in range nonetheless. He cleared the wall and hit the target but Ter Stegen saved low to his left.

Chelsea were growing in confidence, and Barca were feeling the heat. Conte`s plan was to soak up the pressure and hit the Catalans fast on the break. As soon as Chelsea gained possession the front three would race forwards.

Chelsea`s Vital Chelsea fall guy, Willian curled a shot goal bound that thumped back off the post, with Stegen nowhere near it. It was a feat he completed with the opposite upright shortly after.

Meanwhile Rakitic was walking a tightrope with some of the tackles he was putting in. He was clearly not aware of this fixtures history regarding sending offs. He would likely find himself victim of an early substitution. As half-time approached, with Barcelona still dominating the ball, that possession had produced very little to trouble Thibaut Courtois.

Half-time Chelsea 0-0 Barcelona

The second half began in a similar fashion to the first. Barcelona kept the ball and Chelsea chased it around. We`ve seen this scenario many times though. Possession counts for nothing at all in this game. Ask Jermaine Jenas.

In a similar vein to the first half though, all of Barcelona`s huff and puff amounted to barely anything. Chelsea still looked the likelier scorers. And it was so. Another quick break saw Willian run on goal and and fire low to the keepers left, this time just inside the post.


For so long, the brunt of so much abuse, Willian once again proved the haters wrong. Unfortunately it was a lead that only lasted for 13 minutes. It came courtesy of an unfortunate mistake by Andreas Christensen, whereby he committed the ultimate defenders sin and played the ball across the goal.

The misdirected pass allowed Iniesta the chance of grabbing the ball and he calmly played the ball back across the box for Messi to the pass the ball into the net.

After that Conte replaced Pedro with Morata, and Drinkwater for Fabregas, as Barcelona did their best to run down the clock. There was a flurry of fouls as the game reached its crescendo but flattened off as time ran out. The final score was 1-1. Chelsea could leave the field happy with their performance on the night. Antonio Conte`s team selection vindicated.

At the start of the game, most would have taken a 1-1 draw, most, however would not have predicted Chelsea`s goal scorer. Chelsea head to the Nou Camp still in with a good shout at progressing, they`ll need a goal, but they have done it before and they are more than capable of doing it again.

That game takes place in just over three weeks on the 14th March. And relax???..

 

15 Replies to “Chelsea Can Hold Their Heads Up High”

  • Am still looking for the team which played Tottenham at the beginning of the season and the one which played first leg against Atletico Madrid.

  • Like I said in another thread, I’d take a player of Willian’s calibre in every position. Easily the best man in blue on that pitch today.

  • Agree Solid, Willian was superb, unfortunately one up and finishing with a draw nearly feels like a loss.

  • You’re right, to an extent. But our boys put in a good shift. I’d rather lose a match after a good fight, than an outright capitulation. These kinds of matches are great motivators.

  • Pedro and Fabrigas were not comfortable playing their former side thought those two should have been substituted earlier in second half. Clearly Conte set up the team for quick counter in which case I thought he could have brought in Zappacosta for Alonso, at least he has pace.

  • So you expect DD to be more comfortable playing against Barca than Fabregas? I don’t think so….The team tried though(maybe due to the fact that they were written off before the first whistle),already had the fear that Christensen would misplace a pass since he did it in the first half but it’s part of the learning process

  • DD was fresh legs, and a more defensive presence. Win balls. With the introduction of Morata, the idea was to be more defensive, and more direct. Play to the front man, rather than sneak cheeky little balls into Hazard or Willian.

  • Actually I don’t think Drinkwater is better than Fab. Am just wondering what is happening to David Luiz, he was very solid as a support for Kante earlier in season remember!

  • Actually Pedro was doing a lot of defending, he went under the radar, Moses also defended well, but was poor in attack . Regardless we were really unlucky not to win this match .Its going to be hard to beat them at the Nou camp, but it can be done, and if they win it will be a narrow win .I was really pleased with today’s performance. We are playing the best team on the planet,after all.

  • EXcellent performance & Willian the star …. lady luck did not shine on him/us & i hope that’s not a pointer of things to come ….. but we can beat Barca at the Nou Camp methinks …. i also think the Azpi-Christensen-Rudiger back 3 is the best combo we have & we should stick to it and let Cahill/Luiz only be backups now onwards ….. but is that going to happen ? ….

  • Honestly i’m very proud of the boys, they played with their heart on their sleeves,
    I was telling everyone we were going to get creamed. But thank god they proved me wrong. The goal we conceded was unlucky, but lets be honest, we thought they were going to beats us 3-0. We out played them, we controlled the game we showed grit. I hope this continues till the next leg. COME ON CHELSEA!! PRIDE OF LONDON!! Best team in the world!!

  • it was always going to be hard but to be going into the 2nd leg even is something none of us would had said no to. Personally i am relieved that we were not destroyed as we were not sure which Chelsea would show up 🙂

  • Massive improvement from Watford game. Players carried out Conte’s plan to the letter. One unfortunate mistake cost us an away goal. Personally would have preferred a striker to have started but no complaints as we nearly pulled it off. Nou Camp would be tough, but anything can happen in football.

  • Looking forward to the second leg. We need to replicate our Tottenham or Athletico Madrid type of away performances to go through. Was very proud of the performance, but would have liked a striker to have started which would have allowed Hazard more freedom(my opinion).

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