Thursday, April 19th, 2012
Comment & analysis round-up
Roberto Di Matteo: ”In the past a lot of the public opinion has been that these boys are over the line, too old to play two games and to play at this level. It wasn’t just Didier. There were other players on the pitch that people have regarded as ‘the old guard’ who can’t play two games in such a short period of time. But they gave an answer on the pitch tonight. We have a team with a good team spirit, a good team ethic. Young and old stay together in this team and fight for the same target. That’s what I think. Tonight was about a great collective defensive performance.”
Pep Guardiola: “We’d win every game if it was just about possession of the ball, because our average is more than our opponents, but the most difficult thing is putting the ball in the net. It won’t be simple in the second game. They’ll have 10 men behind the ball and will defend: they’re stronger than us; they run, run, run; they jump more than us. But we have to try and take control and discover a way of scoring the goals. We knew this would be a challenge and wouldn’t be easy. Chelsea are a team with a lot of experience.”
Oh Wow. Chelsea Beat Barcelona
Frankly, this win was a miracle (Sun) On match stats of conceding 72 per cent possession and managing just one shot on target, that should have been the outcome last night. Except, incredibly, Chelsea’s extraordinary recovery under Roberto di Matteo continues. This, though, was the miracle of all miracles in a season which, not all that long ago, had been consigned to the rubbish bin.
Chelsea v Barcelona: five talking points (Guardian) Barcelona had the more accomplished players against Chelsea but Roberto Di Matteo’s ‘perfect game’ was essentially ugly but effective.
Drogba lets go of the histrionics to summon up his old heroics (James Lawton, Independent) There was a shortlist of heroes of imposing length and high on it no doubt was Ashley Cole, and there was, again, the relentless Lampard. But then it was still hard to look too far beyond the force and the charisma of the man from the Ivory Coast. Di Matteo decided that he need the certainty of his aura, the strange but recurring force of his will. It was a brilliant decision and it may yet produce unimagined rewards.
Chelsea’s defensive discipline halts Barcelona’s space exploration (David Pleat, Guardian) Roberto Di Matteo created such a tightly packed, organised defence that Andrés Iniesta and Co could not find the killer pass.
Di Matteo hails old guard after historic Chelsea win (Independent)
Messi and Co outmuscled by Chelsea’s defensive master plan (Independent) If parking the bus is a crime, then lock Chelsea up and throw away the key. Meanwhile, back in the real world, Roberto Di Matteo’s team have a precious one-goal lead to take to the Nou Camp on Tuesday and moreover they have beaten the European champions.
Looking At Messi
Lionel Messi still shines but goal drought against Chelsea goes on (Sid Lowe, Guardian) This was a strange night at Stamford Bridge for Messi, departing at full-time wearing an expression much like the one he wore at half-time. Look at the list of this game’s key moments: with the exception of Alexis Sánchez’s shot off the bar Messi was at the heart of all of them. Unfortunately for Barça, that included the only goal of this game, Chelsea’s goal.
On yer bike, Leo! Chelsea plan leaves Messi and co stuck in first gear (Mail) Messi is suffering his own Zlatan-esque mental block where Chelsea is concerned. He has not scored in seven games against them and whether or not the drought extends to eight may be the key to which team makes it to Munich next month.
Eye On Real’s Loss at Bayern
Mourinho under fire for negative tactics that let Bayern get lucky (Independent) Cautious approach and hapless Fabio Coentrao blamed for last-minute first-leg defeat in Munich.]
FA Ticketing Farce (As Always)
Liverpool and Chelsea upset at ticket allocation for FA Cup final (Guardian) Liverpool and Chelsea have been allocated just 25,000 tickets each for their FA Cup final on 5 May, with 10% of these priced at £115 and nearly half costing fans £85.
Zing when yer winning (Sun) Bombshell Kat is off to Prem
More Trouble For Bebe
Besiktas banish on-loan United striker Bebe to the reserves and blame it on the boogie (Mail) Manchester United youngster Bebe has been excluded from first-team training at loan club Besiktas and warned he may never play for them again after he stayed out late in a disco.
United misfit Bebe breaks Besiktas curfew (Independent)