For 45 minutes and a minute of stoppage time, Chelsea were dominated by Barcelona. The Blaugranas had chance after chance and more than 75 percent of possession. However, there seemed to be a plan in place, as Chelsea defended well for a lot of the half and looked to break on the counter over and over again. They were caught offside five times, but finally burned Barca on their last counter of the half. They lead by a score of 1-0 at halftime, thanks to Didier Drogba
Barcelona's first big chance of the afternoon came in the 9th minute, via Alexis Sanchez. Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta set up the chance with a great exchange that ended with a ball over the top of the defense by Iniesta. Sanchez latched onto it and attempted to chip Petr Cech, but hit the crossbar and the Chelsea defense cleared away.
A minute later, Gary Cahill had a chance for Chelsea on a long throw by Branislav Ivanovic, but put his effort just wide. This would be only one of two Chelsea chances in the half, as Barcelona controlled possession.
The Blaugranas' best chance game in the 17th minute, when they had multiple opportunities. Lionel Messi started the move with a dribbling move through traffic before laying off to Adriano, who set up Iniesta for a shot on target. Cech saved, but could only parry the ball into the patch of Cesc Fabregas. He should have been able to score, but put his shot embarrassingly wide.
Barcelona had a short spell where they took apart the Chelsea defense at every opportunity. Iniesta skinned Cahill at the endline in the 25th minute, but Cahill won the ball back with a hard shoulder challenge. Fabregas had a shot on target saved in the 27th minute, which was followed up by a Messi header on target just one minute later. At that point, Chelsea's defense seemed to wake up and started to look much more organized. John Terry also gave Puyol an ouchie.
In the 43rd minute, Chelsea almost gave Barcelona a massive gift. John Obi Mikel inexplicably gave the ball away deep in midfield, giving their opponents a chance to build a quick counter. Messi played a fantastic through ball to Fabregas, who chipped Cech, but Cole ran back quickly and made a fantastic clearance off the line to preserve his side's clean sheet.
A 0-0 halftime score looked like a near certainty until Chelsea scored on a lightning quick counter attack with the last move of the half. Incredibly, the chance started when Messi gave the ball away. Lampard started the attack with a great ball to Ramires, who created space for himself with his blazing speed. He laid a perfect ball across the box to the far post for Drogba, who applied the simple finish.
It goes without saying that this goal was an absolute game changer. Barcelona were completely in control, Messi looked like the best player on the pitch and Drogba looked a bit off the pace for the entire half. In one 15-second sequence, all of that became irrelevant. Chelsea leads 1-0, and it's anyone's guess what adjustments the two managers make at halftime.
We'll have continuous pre-game updates and live game coverage in our Chelsea vs. Barcelona, UEFA Champions League Semifinals StoryStream. For more on the two teams, head over to Chelsea FC blog We Ain't Got No History and FC Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes.