There are few better feelings in football than pure, cold blooded, revenge. Okay, we didn’t knock them out of the competition. They could easily still win it. When we play them in just under two weeks’ time they could easily beat us. I know all that. But what a feeling. Barcelona beaten at Stamford Bridge. Again. Marvellous.
They really missed Eto’o, without him their attack lacked a focal point. Eidur – much as I love him – has the pace of an Icelandic tortoise. Possibly less, I could beat him in a straight sprint, no problem at all. He laboured to even take the ball up to our last defender. When Eto’o would have been past the last defender and in on goal. And Hilario. Don’t think about that.
Actually Hilario did okay. He made a very decent save from the motor-mouthed Messi that kept us in the game. His goal kicking is atrocious. In the end I think JT took the goal kicks. But no one was complaining. The crowd certainly played a part. Hilario was cheered like a conquering hero and his name was chanted regularly throughout the evening. His pitch-long sprint to join Drogba’s goal celebrations was certainly one of the highlights.
Talking of the crowd. Chelsea gave out blue flags to almost everyone going through the turnstiles. Which I thought was great. They also gave out thousands of joint Barcelona / Chelsea scarves. Which I hated. What happened to organised brutality? We used to hand out beatings to away fans. Now we hand out shared scarves. What is the world coming to? Eh?
Shevchenko was even worse than is being reported in the press. To say he was hopeless would be a gross exaggeration – in his favour. The chance he missed to put the game to bed was, well, unreal. Mind boggling. However, he will turn it around. Probably a fluke goal, or a tap into an empty net will start him off. Second half of the season we’ll see the real deal, and so will the rest of the Premiership.
Essien was simply phenomenal. A brute of a player, he harried and chased down everything in a Barcelona shirt. These were not mugs he was taking the ball off either. Messi, Xavi, Deco and Goofy were all mugged by Essien. Regularly. He owned that midfield and it was a sight to behold. He also ran the length of the pitch and through the entire Barcelona defence, three times. Quite astonishing athleticism. If he played for Manchester United Fergie would think all his dreams had come true.
The other player who rates a mention is the match winner, Drogba. Has he turned his game around or what? No more falling over, no more sulking. He terrorised Barcelona all night. The fact he missed a far easier chance than the one he scored is typical of him. The goal he did score was a screamer. Absolute rocket. 45,000 out of their seats in the same instant. Tremendous piece of forward play.
Much has been said about Barcelona and last season they were deservedly European Champions. They’ve probably been the best team in Europe for the last two seasons, certainly in terms of attacking play. Last night they didn’t look anything like that. Ronaldinho was out of sorts, Boularouz pretty much bossed him – which sounds astonishing but is true.
Messi was better and his contest with Cole was far closer. Other than that Barcelona played pretty patterns but didn’t make many chances. Maybe two real ones in the whole game. Why? I don’t know. Certainly Chelsea looked more of a team. We played with more spirit. We looked – and I hate clichés – the “hungrier”. But it wasn’t just that. Some of the Catalan magic was missing. A one off? Maybe? But certainly there was room for optimism. We should have won 3-0. No question.
Great stuff. And if anyone wants a Barcelona / Chelsea scarf (slightly soiled) do let me know.