Offside. Offside, it won't count, it's offside. The flag went up before Sanchez hit the ball.My heart skipped a beat, so did every Chelsea supporter's around the globe.
After a hard fought 1-0 victory at the Bridge, where Chelsea absorbed all the pressure and scored from the only shot on target, it was time for a different approach altogether at the Camp Nou. A slightly wider pitch, double the capacity of the Bridge, mostly filled with hostiles, simply 'parking the bus' could never have helped Chelsea.
|CR7 stunned Camp Nou with his winner|
Mourinho had already announced publicly that his heart was with Chelsea, but stressed that the referee would play an important role. Chelsea had the backing of many others like Zola and Wenger but received a lot of criticism because of the apparently negative tactics from the likes of Cryuff, van der Sar, and Koeman. Pep Guardiola even went onto say that he had no doubt Barcelona would defeat Chelsea.
|Chelsea parking the bus © Goal.com|
The next blow came to Barça, as Gerard Pique had a nasty collision with Victor Valdes and Didier Drogba, almost knocking him out(I just prayed that he somehow survives). He got back to his feet but was subbed by Dani Alves. However, Chelsea could just hold on till 35 minutes, when Dani Alves released Cuenca on the left, who passed on to Busquets, and a calm finish is what followed.
Tragedy struck Chelsea two minutes later, when John Terry was given a straight red card for kneeing Alexis Sanchez. A soft, but crazy thing to do. Alexis Sanchez creating a scene out of a considerably small incident. I agree, he would've easily escaped the red, but the referee's shadow continued to help Barça in important matches. The score was 1-0. At this point, if Chelsea defended well, they could somehow take it to extra time and maybe penalties. But that was not on the cards.
After losing both centre halves, Chelsea back four (or whatever remained) was broken. The next few minutes reminded me of how I play FIFA 12. Barça capitalised quickly with a well taken shot by Iniesta giving Barça a 2-0 lead, proving yet again how underrated a player Iniesta is. It looked all but over for Chelsea, another manager would be axed soon, another season with apparently no major trophy left to play for. However, the Football God had other things in mind.
|Ramires chipping it over Valdes|
The commentators discussed at the start of the second half regarding Chelsea's chances. Gary Neville seemed to believe that 10 men Chelsea might do it, but they would have to believe in themselves, while Alan Parry was sure they could remind us of the hammer blows Chelsea had faced in the recent years. The half started with the worst possible way for Chelsea with Drogba bringing down Fabregas inside the box with a clumsy tackle, and a penalty was given. Messi stepped up to take it. Messi, who had failed to score against Chelsea EVER. Maybe this was the easiest way to do the same, break the deadlock.
|Messi penalty miss|
The match entered the last ten minutes and the situation couldn't be any more tense. Torres had been brought on for Drogba, and Kalou for Mata. But neither of them wandered too far away from the box. The offside goal I mentioned almost cost Chelsea as Torres failed to mark Dani Alves properly, and fortunately he was just offside. Shortly thereafter, Messi struck the post with a wonderful shot as he got just a bit of space from the Chelsea defenders. So frustrated Barça were, that Puyol was attacking at positions further up front from even Messi.
|The £ 50 million goal|
To come from two goals down against a team is unbelievable, but to do it against Barça, the champions and arguably the best in the world, it was nothing short of a miracle. Just two months back, the team couldn't have done it, but it was certainly the wizardry of the caretaker manager, Roberto di Matteo, who had just proved that he might be the one to bring the Holy Grail to the Bridge!
Inter had done it two years ago, Chelsea followed in the same footsteps. The mighty Barça were defeated. Chelsea showed certain loopholes which Inter had highlighted. Messi was totally shut down, just like in 2009. A plan executed to perfection. Ten heroes, who have etched their name in the history of the club, this was certainly a superhuman performance.
Seven days ago, Barça were preparing for a Champions League match where they were huge favourites to go thorough, and an El Classico, where a win would being them very, very close to the league leaders. Seven days on, they have been kicked out by Chelsea, and well beaten by a good performance by an inspired Real team. You can only wonder, is it the end of their dominance? Or will they strike back stronger? Only time will tell.
I would sign off with a status update of a Manchester United fan.