Chelsea v Barcelona: five things we learned at Stamford Bridge
Ashley Cole’s excellence is one of the high points on a delirious night at Stamford Bridge.
1. Didier Drogba is an indispensable indulgence
He spent much of the game lying down, strolling offside or watching his team-mates chase the ball but it was no surprise that he scored. Frustrating he may be but he was the one player who made Barcelona nervous, spinning his man a couple of times in the first half before striking. It shouldn’t work, but it does.
2. Possession is over-rated
At one stage in the first half, Barcelona had 70 per cent possession; Chelsea looked like they were playing a different sport. Perhaps their dominance took the urgency out of their play but Barcelona did not create the chances you would expect. Chelsea deserve credit for not getting too frustrated: when the opening came, they struck.
3. Ashley Cole is the best in the business
He is the one Chelsea player you are certain would make it into the Barcelona team. He was actually caught playing Alexis onside early in the game but was imperious after that. Had the confidence to take his time over his passing, cleared one off the line and even tried the odd trick.
4. High line is Barca’s weak spot
So high up the pitch and so hard do they press that, if you can beat the first line of closing players, Barcelona can be opened up in transition. Look at Drogba’s goal: it was two passes from when Lampard tackled Messi before the ball was in the net. You win the ball so rarely in dangerous positions that these are the chances you need to take.
5. Roberto Di Matteo is a lucky man
The Chelsea manager seems to be able to channel contingency in his favour. In the past few weeks we’ve seen Chelsea scoring offside goals and goals where the ball doesn’t cross the line; last night he had the ball coming back off the bar, cleared off the line and Barca hitting the post in the last minute. He must hope his lucky streak holds.