Chelsea must exploit Didier Drogba’s aerial power in Champions League semi-final against Barcelona
Chelsea do not just have to beat Barcelona to reach the Champions League Final. They must overcome a gift from the footballing Gods.
Barcelona are as near to perfection as you can get, a side that has redefined how to play the game and influenced a new generation of clubs and international countries for the greater good.
Chelsea must overcome a philosophy of football in the semi-final. The only way I can see it happening is by reverting to tactics that are the polar opposite to everything Barcelona represent.
They can be beaten. Their La Liga record, where they’ve suffered numerous setbacks away from home and lie behind Real Madrid, underlines that they have some weakness in defence.
Javier Mascherano is not a centre-half. We saw against AC Milan in midweek how he can get caught out of position. If Barcelona can be put under sustained pressure, Chelsea could score one or two goals.
The problem with trying to attack what is considered a weak defensive unit is you very rarely get enough possession to even think about it.
To win, Chelsea must play defensive, yet direct. They must play an intense, high tempo game at Stamford Bridge, utilising all the strength, aerial presence and aggression of Didier Drogba at his best.
They must also hope Barcelona have a rare bad night in Europe and that just about everything that can go Chelsea’s way does so.
Even with all these factors, you are still struggling to see how Barcelona can be beaten over two legs.
The Chelsea versus Benfica game was somewhat ominous. Although Chelsea won, they surrendered possession far too easily, particularly in the second leg.
If Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andrés Iniesta get that much use of the ball, they will find the gaps Benfica could not.
When the sides last met in the competition three years ago, we saw how Chelsea caused problems and came agonisingly close to knocking Barcelona out.
Barcelona are much stronger now and Chelsea are not the force they once were.
Even the draw has not been kind for Chelsea, with playing at Stamford Bridge first a disadvantage. If they have not got a lead to take to the Nou Camp, they can forget it. If that lead is not at least two goals I would not be too confident either.