FC Barcelona v Chelsea FC

Jose Mourinho has done a pretty good job stirring up a siege mentality for this match, and said yesterday that he is following a carefully designed strategy to take the pressure off his players. The hostile welcome the team received upon arrival in Barcelona was evidence enough of Mourinho’s plan in action, and he will surely use it to motivate the players that little bit extra.

A squad of twenty travelled and included Frank Lampard who looks to have recovered from a slight hamstring tear. He came through training yesterday and is almost certain to start. Michael Essien and Asier Del Horno didn’t travel because of their respective bans, while Glen Johnson apparently lost his passport and was made to play in the Reserves last night (they beat Coventry 6-0). William Gallas survived his comeback match at the Hawthorns on Saturday and will be employed at left back to mark Barcelona’s Argentine winger, the theatrical but dangerous Lionel Messi.

There’s been a lot of talk about which of our two main, and very different strikers Mourinho will select to start the match — the powerful, in your face, battering ram skills of Didier Drogba, or the more subtle, sublime and old fashioned skills of Hernan Crespo. Some have even suggested that Mourinho will abandon his customary 4-5-1 defending/4-3-3 attacking formation and switch to 4-4-2, and play Drogba and Crespo together. Who knows? I’d quite like to see us go 4-4-2; the differing styles of Drogba and Crespo could mean they’re the ideal striking partnership. Barcelona’s back four would struggle to cope with the two of them, that’s for sure.

Prediction: Firstly, let’s look at a few facts. We’ve played Barcelona at Camp Nou 4 times and they have outscored us 14-2. We have played 8 matches in Spain and won just 1, losing the other 7. And we’re 2-1 down from the first leg. Frankly, it doesn’t look good.

But if there’s one man who can prove the statistics wrong and mastermind a win that would go down in history, then it’s Jose Mourinho. If it’s 11 versus 11 for 90 minutes then we have a chance. Will we do it? Why not?

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FC Barcelona 1 – 1 Chelsea · Update

It has to be said that the best team won over the two legs — just. Remove the genius of Ronaldinho from the equation and the two teams were pretty well matched.

It certainly wasn’t a vintage performance but we did well. There seemed to me to be a lack of urgency, but I suppose it was just the team balancing attack and defence.

I hope Barcelona win the Champions League outright.

Premiership and FA Cup double anyone?

See the goals here (downloadable zip files).

Match reports: BBC Sport; Sky Sports; ESPNSoccernet; Official Chelsea FC Website; The Guardian; Daily Telegraph; The Times; The Independent.

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