- “It breaks my heart that Kagawa now plays 20 minutes at Manchester United – on the left wing!” – Klopp
- Kroenke gives Wenger green light to smash Arsenal’s wage structure
- 32-year-old man charged with killing brother
- Emenike close to sensational move back to Fenerbahce
- Work begins on Fourth Mainland Bridge
- “We’re all delighted!” – Wayne Rooney welcomes second son
- UNILORIN expels 24 students
- Victor Moses, Kalu Uche to miss Nigeria’s World Cup qualifiers, Confederations Cup campaign
- Nigeria must embrace good management practices – Atiku
- Boko Haram offensive: Military deploy more troops in Adamawa
Barcelona vs Chelsea Preview: Kill or be killed!
Last Saturday, as Alexis Sanchez squeezed the ball past Iker Casillas – very similar to the scrappy opening goal Real Madrid scored through Sami Khedira – we pulled up to the edge of our seats, expecting Barcelona to put Jose Mourinho’s men to the sword, like they have done time and again.
They didn’t. Instead, Mesut Ozil’s well-weighted pass found Ronaldo scampering away. He took out touch past Victor Valdes and tucked it expertly away. The game ended that way.
It was the first victory the Madridstas have managed over the Catalans – in the previous seven matches, Barca have won six and drawn one. Before the game last weekend, Barca had won 24 straight La Liga games at the Nou Camp.
Most importantly, it was the first time since 2009 that they lose two matches in a row. With that record arose the solid possibility that they would not retain the La Liga crown they have won three years in a row.
That leaves them with the Champions League as the only big trophy left to win. Chelsea arrive the Nou Camp this evening with a 1-0 lead from the first leg. The home side need to win by two clear goals to progress to the finals. It is worrying to note that Barcelona have not been at their dazzling best recently. Yes, their tiki-taka is still very evident but they have found scoring almost impossible lately.
Several observers have suggested that Chelsea will play out the same tactics that gave them victory at Stamford Bridge, but interim manager, Roberto Di Matteo has claimed they will try to get a goal just to be extra safe.
Even if the Blues resort to parking the bus tonight, one has to wonder if they have the energy to keep the wounded Barca players at bay for the entire 90 minutes of the game. Yes, Di Matteo rested the likes of Frank Lampard, Ramires, Meireles against Arsenal last weekend, but the pitch in Spain is much bigger and Chelsea have to up their game.
It’s still finely balanced in my opinion, and I can’t even burst a gut to make a prediction. Let’s see which side books their spot in the grand finale that wil be played in Munich next month.