BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 24: Goal scorer Ramires of Chelsea celebrates with team mates during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final, second leg match between FC Barcelona and Chelsea FC at Camp Nou on April 24, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Barcelona Vs. Chelsea: 10-Man Blues Top Cules For Final Spot

Somehow, some way, Chelsea managed to come back and advance to the final after going down a goal and down to 10 men, winning 3-2 on aggregate.

  • Live
25 Total Updates since April 23, 2012
  • Important 9
  • Updates 21
  • Articles 4
  • All Updates 25

Barcelona Vs. Chelsea: 10 Heroic Lions, 1 Stupid Boy

Chelsea dragged themselves into the final without their captain. They deserve their appearance in the final; John Terry deserves his place in the stands.

Continue

Barcelona Vs. Chelsea, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Final Score, Blues Improbably Progress

Barcelona had a trip to the UEFA Champions League Final completely gift-wrapped for them. While tied 1-1 on aggregate with Chelsea, John Terry picked up a red card. Andrés Iniesta scored a goal shortly afterward to put the Cules ahead. Then, they completely and utterly collapsed against a 10-man side. Chelsea defended superbly and pulled off two stellar counterattacking goals to draw Barcelona 2-2 at the Camp Nou, going through 3-2 on aggregate.

Chelsea surprisingly generated the first big chance of the match just 18 seconds in, foreshadowing a bit of what was to come in first-half stoppage time. Ashley Cole slotted a through ball to Ramires, who blazed past the Barcelona defense. The ball was just a touch too heavy and Victor Valdés claimed it, but the Cules' defense was out of sorts.

Related: Video of Fernando Torres' £50 million goal

Gary Cahill and Gerard Pique both picked up injuries in the first half and had to exit the match. Cahill came off for Jose Bosingwa in the 12th minute after picking up a hamstring injury, and that forced Branislav Ivanovic to move to the center of defense. Later in the half, Pique clashed with Didier Drogba and Valdés, and came off with what appeared to be a head injury in the 25th minute.

The Blues defended exceptionally well for the opening 30 minutes of the game, but fell asleep immediately following a corner kick in the 33rd minute, letting Barcelona level the tie. After a clearance on the corner, Barcelona worked the ball back into the box and Isaac Cuenca set up Sergio Busquets for a tap-in, making it 1-1 on aggregate.

Four minutes later, the course of the game was completely altered when Terry picked up a straight red card for a knee to the back of the leg of Alexis Sánchez off the ball. The referee didn't see the incident, but his assistant alerted him to it and Terry was sent off for violent conduct. Just seven minutes later, Iniesta put Barca ahead, assisted by Lionel Messi, and the tie appeared to be over.

Improbably, just before the stroke of halftime, 10-man Chelsea struck on the counter. Just like in the first leg, the Barcelona defense fell asleep in first-half stoppage time as Frank Lampard played a through ball to Ramires, who beat the Barca defense with his pace. Instead of providing an assist for a teammate, he took the responsibility on himself in this instance, hitting a stunning chip over Valdés to level the tie at 2-2 and put his team ahead on away goals heading into the break.

Just after halftime, Barcelona appeared to have the tie locked up when they were granted a 48th-minute penalty. Once again, they found a way to throw away their massive advantage. Messi stepped up to the spot and hit the crossbar with his penalty effort, keeping Chelsea in front. Barcelona would have all of the possession and some decent chances before the end of the game, but that would be the team's last truly great opportunity. Or at least, their last one that counted.

The penalty seemed to be a wake-up call for the Chelsea defense, who played stunningly for the remainder of the half. Sánchez headed a Dani Alves cross over the bar in the 54th minute, Busquets skied a shot over the bar in the 78th minute and Messi hit the post in the 83rd minute, but they somehow never looked like scoring. In the 88th minute, Messi set up Sánchez for what looked like a winner, but it was flagged for offside.

In the first minute of second-half stoppage time, Barcelona had a corner kick and threw everyone forward. That turned out to be a disastrous risk when the ball was cleared and booted up the pitch to Fernando Torres, who had come on as a substitute for Drogba. He got himself clear 50 yards from goal and remained composed as he dribbled into Valdés one-on-one, then rounded him and tapped it in to seal the deal for Chelsea.

Incredibly, improbably, Chelsea have scored twice against Barcelona at the Camp Nou to go through to the UEFA Champions League final after one of the most exciting Champions League games in recent memory.

You can find all of our previous live coverage from the game in our Barcelona vs. Chelsea, 2012 UEFA Champions League 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.

Continue

Barcelona Vs. Chelsea, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Lionel Messi Misses Penalty

What in the world is this game. After just three minutes of play in the second half, Chelsea's dream of holding onto an away goals lead with 10 men appeared to be over. Didier Drogba, while defending his own penalty area, made contact with Cesc Fabregas and he went down. The referee granted a penalty and Lionel Messi -- who has never scored against Chelsea -- stepped up.

Incredibly, he failed to score, and he didn't even force Petr Cech into a save.

Messi_medium

Surely there is some kind of hex on the goal that prevents Messi from scoring ... okay, probably not. But if that is the case, we'll have compelling evidence at the end of this game. He'll have a few more shots before it ends, and Barcelona are likely to finish this game with something like 85 percent possession,

We'll have live coverage throughout the game in our Barcelona vs. Chelsea, 2012 UEFA Champions League 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.

Continue

Barcelona Vs. Chelsea, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Halftime Score, Everything Has Gone Bonkers

UPDATE: Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea, Final Score

For the first 30 minutes, everything was normal at the Camp Nou. Chelsea were playing with 10 men behind the ball and Barcelona were trying to break them down. The Blaugrana had some solid chances, but the Blues had their defense organized and didn't look terribly bothered. The last 15 minutes of the first half were absolutely nothing like the first 30.

Sergio Busquets leveled the tie for Barcelona in the 33rd minute, which was followed up by a sending off for John Terry. Shortly afterwards, Andres Iniesta scored, which should have all but ended the tie. Improbably, Chelsea found a way to score on the counter with an absolutely brilliant goal by Ramires, and inexplicably, the Blues are going through as it stands. Barcelona leads 2-1 on the night at halftime, with the tie locked up at 2-2 and Chelsea ahead on away goals.

Before things went absolutely insane, there were two injuries to central defenders that looked like they were going to be the game's biggest stories. Gary Cahill injured his hamstring in the 7th minute and attempted to continue, but could not. He was replaced by Jose Bosingwa in the 12th minute, a substitution that moved Branislav Ivanovic to the center of defense.

In the 17th minute, Didier Drogba, Victor Valdes and Gerard Pique all collided with Pique getting the worst of the challenge. The Barcelona defender attempted to continue, but like Cahill, was not able to do so. Unlike Cahill, there's a good chacne that he played for five minutes with a concussion. He was replaced by Dani Alves in the 25th minute.

Barcelona got on the board 33 minutes in through Sergio Busquets, and he couldn't have had a simpler finish. The start of the move was a Barcelona corner kick that was easily cleared away by Chelsea, but their defense seemed to fall asleep after the clearance. Dani Alves got onto it and played the ball wide for Isaac Cuenca, who sent a cross into the box. It went through everyone and found Busquets, who scored a tap-in to level the tie 1-1.

Busquets_medium

Things got much, much worse for Chelsea four minutes later when their captain and only true central defender on the pitch, John Terry, got himself sent off for a knee to the back of the leg of Alexis Sanchez. The referee didn't see the incident off the ball, but he was alerted to it by his linesman and had no choice to send off Terry for this obvious bit of foul play.

Terry_medium

Seven minutes later, in the 44th minute, Andres Iniesta appeared to put the nail in Chelsea's coffin with this goal, which made it 2-0 to Barcelona on the night and 2-1 on aggregate.

Iniesta_medium

The finish was nice, but the assist by Lionel Messi was the real magic here. Even though the pass was a short one, you can count on one hand the number of players who can consistently play a pass that precise to hit a teammate perfectly in stride as consistently as Messi executes that pass. Up a goal and a man, Barcelona appeared to have the game in the bag. Then, just like they were in first half stoppage time in the first leg, they were undone by the pace of Ramires and the skill of Frank Lampard.

Ramires_medium

The obvious difference between this goal and Drogba's last Wednesday is that Ramires didn't require any help. The goal was created in a similar fashion and for similar reasons -- Barcelona's defense getting too aggressive against a speedster like Ramires -- but the finish was probably better than any cross he's ever played in his life. To chip Victor Valdes like that while he's standing straight up is astonishing.

With Chelsea ahead on away goals and down a man, it's not terribly clear exactly what the two managers are going to do in the second half. Obviously, Chelsea will be defensive and Barcelona will attack, but the entertainment will be in exactly how they attempt to execute those strategies, and exactly how much Chelsea looks to break out on the counter, if at all.

We'll have live coverage throughout the game in our Barcelona vs. Chelsea, 2012 UEFA Champions League 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.

Continue

Barcelona Vs. Chelsea, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Sergio Busquets Scores, Levels Tie

It took over two hours, but Barcelona have finally scored a goal against Chelsea in their UEFA Champions League semifinal tie. It came from an unlikely source, defensive midfielder Sergio Busquets following a corner kick, but they all count the same. The tie is locked up at 1-1, even on away goals, thanks to his 33rd minute strike.

Xavi's corner kick appeared to be a harmless one and was easily cleared away, but Chelsea appeared to think that their job was done when the ball was cleared away. Barcelona kept working and eventually created an easy opportunity. Dani Alves passed out wide to Isaac Cuenca after collecting the clearance, and he put a great low ball into the box. It went through everyone and found Busquets, who had an uncontested tap-in from six yards to put Barca in front on the night.

We'll have live coverage throughout the game in our Barcelona vs. Chelsea, 2012 UEFA Champions League 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.

Continue

Barcelona Vs. Chelsea, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Lineups

Barcelona have gone to a very surprising lineup for their UEFA Champions League semifinal, second leg clash against Chelsea, dropping Dani Alves to move into a 3-4-3 formation. Chelsea showed what they can do to a poorly organized back three in the second leg of their tie with Napoli, so Barcelona is either banking on Chelsea putting 10 men behind the ball for the entire game or Javier Mascherano putting in a flawless performance. The Blues' lineup is entirely as expected.

Barcelona starting lineup (3-4-3): Victor Valdes; Gerard Pique, Javier Mascherano, Carles Puyol; Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas; Isaac Cuenca, Lionel Messi, Alexis Sanchez.

Substitutes from: Jose Pinto, Dani Alves, Adriano, Seydou Keita, Thiago Alcantara, Pedro, Cristian Tello

Chelsea starting lineup (4-5-1): Petr Cech; Ashley Cole, John Terry, Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic; Ramires, Raul Meireles, John Obi Mikel, Frank Lampard, Juan Mata; Didier Drogba.

Substitutes from: Ross Turnbull, Jose Bosingwa, Michael Essien, Florent Malouda, Daniel Sturridge, Solomon Kalou, Fernando Torres

Kickoff is at 2:45 p.m. ET, 8:45 p.m. local time from Camp Nou. You can watch the game on FOX Soccer Channel in the USA, Sky Sports 2 in the UK and Sportsnet regional networks in Canada.

We'll have live coverage throughout the game in our Barcelona vs. Chelsea, 2012 UEFA Champions League 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.

Continue

Barcelona Vs. Chelsea, 2012 Champions League: Paging Mr. Messi

When your best player doesn't score, it's hard to win. This, at least, has been the mantra coming out of the Spanish press for the last couple of days: when Lionel Messi doesn't score, Barcelona do not win. This, of course, is a pretty absurd oversimplification, but it does have just enough truth to it that "newspapers" like Marca, or Sport can claim that it represents reality. Barça is 0-2 in their last two matches; Leo Messi did not score in either of them.

At the same time, the little Argentine genius did not disappear, as some have suggested: he created chance after chance for his side, but was rewarded by players missing sitters, or keepers playing God (hello, St. Iker). Assists aren't assists without the goal part--which is, honestly, a major flaw in how we judge a player's offensive production. Even the Goals Created statistic (GC = Goals + Assists) that I try to use (and believe better captures a player's offensive production than either goals or assists on their own) relies heavily--in fact, is premised on--the idea that an assist creates a goal.

Well, Messi didn't create a goal in the last two games. Which is pretty rare for him--he averages more than two and a half goals created in home games alone. But that doesn't mean he played badly, per se.

However, he was subdued (for him) for large swaths of Barcelona's loss to Chelsea, and was effectively shut down for much of the match against Real Madrid. Sure, he created some opportunities--squandered by Xavi and Tello in the Madrid match, for instance--but he couldn't elevate his individual game to the Godlike levels culés have come to expect. There was no last-minute equalizer, no brilliant run past three defenders that lead to a brilliant chip over Petr Cech or Iker Casillas. There were a couple great passes, a nice run into space.

So, what does this mean for tonight? Well, it's unclear. It's possible that Messi is hiding an injury: he tweaked his groin against Chelsea, and might have been playing through pain for the past few days and will be better tonight--he did sit out practice on Sunday to rest. But it's also entirely possible that he simply is going through a slump. And if that's the case, Barcelona could be in a bit of trouble...though there's always the possibility that he will pick tonight's match to spectacularly bust out.

Whatever the case with Messi, I think we can all agree that his presence, his want--or lack thereof--could easily determine the fate of the tie.

We'll have pre-game and live game coverage in our Barcelona vs. Chelsea, 2012 UEFA Champions League 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.

Continue

Barcelona Vs. Chelsea, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Swagger Injection Required For Barca

Barcelona have been looking like a shadow of their former selves of late. They were ineffective until very late on at Levante, lost to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and then, most damaging of all, were defeated 2-1 at home by Real Madrid in a mach that they never seriously looked like winning. Since Pep Guardiola took over, Barcelona have been champions of Spain, but that run has come to a crushing end with last weekend's loss to Los Blancos.

Are they shy of confidence? Obviously, watching from afar, it's impossible to tell, but it certainly wouldn't be out of the question. At their best, Barcelona are phenomenal, ripping defences apart at will. Recently? They're a possession-retention machine that looks frankly stodgy whenever it attempts to go forwards. Something is wrong. Over at Barca Blaugranes, Gabriel Roberts is attributing that something to a lack of swagger, which seems as good a word as any:

Whoever gets the nod from Guardiola, they must play with confidence. Barcelona must come out believing in their superiority, and each player must receive and distribute the ball with the decisive and stylish touch we've come to expect from a colossal match at the Nou Camp. I've written before about the Camp Nou swagger—how an electric energy can build between these fabulous little footballers on their extra-wide pitch and in front of their 90,000 fans. Each successive successful pass contributes to this energy, and in time it can build to a methodical, mesmerizing demolition of the opponent.

If Barcelona play at their peak, there's nothing Chelsea can do to stop the hosts from going through. But recapturing that swagger after a very rough week will be a very tough ask for Pep Guardiola and his tired players.

Continue
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.