Barcelona vs. Chelsea  2 - 2

Article

Guardiola rues the one that got away

25 April 2012 05:23

Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola has admitted his players did not recover from Ramires' goal in their Champions league semi-final second leg.

The Chelsea midfielder scored in first-half injury time to make the score 2-2 on aggregate.

"The key moment was when Ramires scored just before the break; that hurt us psychologically," Guardiola said after Tuesday's match.

"We did everything to win, not just tonight but over the two legs.

"We had chances to score more goals here, and a penalty too but it wasn't enough."

Chelsea scored again in the second half to draw 2-2 on Tuesday and win the two-legged semi-final 3-2.

While Guardiola said that the result was not acceptable, he refused to condemn his players.

"Ultimately we failed," the Barcelona manager said.

"Of course there are things I would like to have corrected, but we are not in the final.

"Congratulations to Chelsea who are there.

"We missed key chances here and at Stamford Bridge too.

"How can I reproach the players for the chances they created in 180 minutes?

"It is just not our year."

Lionel Messi missed a second-half penalty and again failed to score against Chelsea.

That is zero goals in eight games against the London-based club but Guardiola threw his support behind the Argentine.

"We must thank Lionel Messi for what he has given this club," Guardiola said.

"My admiration for him knows no limits.

"He is an example for everyone who wants to improve themselves.

"I have no doubt - given the competitor he is - that he will be suffering some very dark hours after this (and his penalty miss)."

Article

Barcelona will be back, vows Fabregas

25 April 2012 04:31

Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas believes that his side's elimination in the Champions League at the hands of Chelsea is unfair.

The Catalan club have been denied a pass to the final following a 3-2 aggregate defeat against the Blues as a result of Tuesday's 2-2 draw at Camp Nou in the second leg of the semi-final tie.

Fabregas says that Barca deserved to go through but insists that the players will lift themselves up from this setback - the second in the space of a week after the 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid has left the team all but out of the race for the La Liga title.

"Football is unjust sometimes," he told reporters after the game. "But if there is one way you want to lose, it is like this, being true to our style.

"I am 24 years old, and I have never seen Camp Nou react like this after a defeat. This is a great team, we will be back next year.

"Chelsea's playing style damaged us, we were far superior and we created several chances."

The Spain international then urged his players to switch their focus to what is left of the season.

"Now we have to think about the four Liga matches left and the Copa del Rey final," he said.

Article

Barca president proud of team despite CL exit

25 April 2012 03:17

Barcelona president Sandro Rosell sang the praises of the team despite their elimination from the Champions League on Tuesday night.

Lionel Messi missed a penalty as the Catalans let a two-goal lead slip in the second leg against Chelsea to crash out of the competition at the semi-final stage, drawing 2-2 on the night and losing 3-2 on aggregate.

However, Rosell believes that there were plenty of positives to take despite the setback at Camp Nou.

"I am proud not to give up our style of play. Sometimes the ball does not go in, but this is a game and you have to accept defeat," he said.

"It was a shock but this is football. Congratulations to Chelsea, they have done their job. Most importantly, we are very proud of the players and coaches who have showed remarkable maturity after a bad week. I am proud of the coach and his team."

The Barcelona executive also laughed off suggestions of a change in playing style at Camp Nou, after a week in which their famed tiki-taka football was not enough to overcome both Chelsea and Real Madrid.

"Today Chelsea's plan worked, but we will continue with the same style, and not change the way it is taught at La Masia, the way we grow our players," Rosell said.

"All year, every time we've had a setback it's been unjust in terms of possession, and we always have more chances than not. Sometimes you lose and sometimes win."

Rosell also reserved special words of praise for the fans, who he felt did the club proud in the aftermath of the match.

"You were with the team and very proud of the team, even when you know it (victory) will not happen. I have not seen our fans so mature and so proud despite defeat," he said.

Article

Desire, spirit key to Chelsea win, says Cole

25 April 2012 02:31

Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole was delighted with his side's desire and fight as they claimed a place in the final of Champions League.

Goals from Ramires and Fernando Torres saw Chelsea come from behind to claim a dramatic 3-2 victory over the two legs against Barcelona, despite being reduced to 10 men when captain John Terry was dismissed for a foul of Alexis Sanchez after just 37 minutes.

Asked about whether character helped them through, Cole told Sky Sports: "It was a lot, three to four months ago, no-one thought we had a chance, we lost a few games in the Premier League.

"But we had certain meetings, we got all the players together and said we always believe and we're good enough to be here and I think we've proved that today.

"We've been lucky in spells in the game, but you can't beat that desire and fight and spirit that you see out there today."

In addition to their captain being given his marching orders, Roberto Di Matteo's men also lost Gary Cahill to injury after just 12 minutes, leaving them with two makeshift central defenders, Jose Bosingwa and Branislac Ivanovic, for nearly an hour.

"It's hard when you lose centre halves like that against a great team, we knew it was going to be hard but Branny (Ivanovic) went in from right back and Bosingwa came into centre-back which is brilliant," Cole said.

"At the end of the day we all believed, not many people did, but us as a group of players did and this is what happens."

Barcelona boasted over 70 percent of possession throughout the 90 minutes, but wasteful passing and valiant defending from the away side continued halted the attacking intent.

"It's hard work, there was five or six players coming down my side, but we defended as a team, again got a bit lucky, Petr (Cech) made some great saves and a little bit of luck as well," he said.

Goalkeeper Cech believes, despite the Barcelona dominance and Lionel Messi missing a penalty, that the Blues deserved to advance to the final.

"We scored the away goal and I think that was the key, twice we scored goals," he said.

"We fought for 90 minutes in the first game, we were down to ten men and we did what we could and I think it was fantastic what we did and we got the reward for it because everybody 150 percent for the team and to be fair we tried to survive and we survived pretty well."

Chelsea will be missing a number of players for the final, with Ramires, Terry, Meireles and Ivanovic all picking suspensions during the second leg, with the latter calling his ban 'unfortunate'.

However, the defender mirrored his goalkeeper's comments, adding: "It was a very difficult game, I think we do our best and we deserved to qualify."

Article

Lampard proud of Chelsea spirit

25 April 2012 02:08

Frank Lampard has hailed his team-mates after Chelsea overcame Barcelona 3-2 on aggregate to reach the Champions League final.

The Blues were 2-0 behind on the night just before half-time and were a man down after having John Terry sent off for a kick on Alexis Sanchez.

But a stunning goal from Ramires just before the break gave Chelsea hope, before Lionel Messi missed a penalty and a resolute defensive performance eventually saw Fernando Torres race clear and seal their progression with a breakaway goal in stoppage time.

"What a performance! I know it was backs to the wall at times but we dug in until the very end," Lampard told Sky Sports.

"I know people want to see beautiful football, but with 10 men for 50 odd minutes and to be two goals down and perform like that - what a spirit we showed - unbelievable stuff!

"That clock felt like it was moving very slowly in the second half but I had a feeling it was going to be our night. You always know they are capable of scoring at any moment because of the players they have in their team, but there is a determination about us.

"In this game you get what you deserve and we were all in it together and we dug in and what a fantastic result we have got."

Lampard admitted he was never confident the tie was safe until the moment Torres rounded Victor Valdes in stoppage time to seal Chelsea's place in the final against either Bayern Munich or Real Madrid next month.

"I could only relax when Fernando went round the keeper," said Lampard. "The second half seemed like it was taking so long - even with seconds to go what happened a few years ago when they scored right at the death was all fresh in our minds.

"You wonder if it can happen again and at times we rode our luck, but you make your own luck and we deserved that result."

The midfielder said he had not seen the Terry sending-off but feels sorry for the club's captain, who will now miss the final.

"No, I didn't see the incident. John said that he ran into the back of him. I honestly haven't seen it but I've got to say I feel for him in there," Lampard said.

"We are in this together and we won tonight, together. If he misses the final and we can go on and win it, which is a big ask, then he will be up right there getting it with us.

"I don't even want to think about who we will play in the final yet. Real and Bayern are two very, very good teams and I wouldn't want to go for one over the other - they are two fantastic sides.

"Of course Chelsea people have a lot of love and respect for Jose Mourinho after what he did here but we are just delighted. Nobody expected us to go through, so the fact we are in the final is just brilliant for us."

Article

Torres delighted after Chelsea stunner

25 April 2012 01:01

Chelsea striker Fernando Torres believes Barcelona still rank as the top team in the world despite bowing out of the Champions League.

The Spanish striker scored the Blues' second goal of the night as Roberto Di Matteo's side held Barcelona to a 2-2 draw at Camp Nou to progress to the tournament decider following a 1-0 victory in the first leg in London.

Prior to the match, Torres had warned Barcelona that upsets can happen, and the Spaniard believes that Tuesday's contest is an example of that.

"Football is just like this," he said. "The better side does not always win.

"We knew this is what we had to do against Barca, although this is not the prettiest thing to do.

"We used our weapons and it turned out great for us in both matches. Barca had their chances, but they did not take them and we found a lifeline with Ramires' goal.

"We have great respect for Barca because we know they are the strongest side in the world."

Torres then lamented the fact that Chelsea will be without suspended Branislav Ivanovic, Raul Meireles, Ramires and John Terry for the final and said he has no preference in meeting either Real Madrid or Bayern Munich in the tournament decider.

"We are qualified for two finals (FA Cup and Champions League) and we will continue to fight for fourth place in the Premier League," he said.

"These last weeks could turn a bad season into a memorable one. We will be without several players and the most important thing is to continue like this and believe that we can win.

"I have no preferences because if we want to win the Champions League, we have to beat any side."

Article

Champions League: Barcelona 2 Chelsea 2 (Agg 2-3)

24 April 2012 23:02

A late Fernando Torres strike sealed an incredible come-from-behind aggregate win for Chelsea and dump Barcelona from the Champions League.

A 10-man Blues outfit held on against the odds to record a 2-2 draw on Wednesday night to secure a 3-2 aggregate triumph and advance to the showpiece final.

An astonishing end to the first half saw Sergio Busquets open the scoring from close range before John Terry saw red for kneeing Alexis Sanchez in the back off the ball.

Andres Iniesta had then calmly finished from a Lionel Messi through-ball to seemingly put the hosts clear before Ramires' incredible chipped goal on the counterattack.

Didier Drogba gave away a penalty at the start of the second half but Messi uncharacteristically cracked it against the crossbar, and it fell to substitute Torres in added time to put it out of the hosts' reach after rounding Victor Valdes.

Pep Guardiola surprised some by benching Dani Alves, opting for three at the back with Gerard Pique recalled. Youngster Isaac Cuenca was also drafted in to the forward four.

Roberto Di Matteo, meanwhile, selected the same side that beat Barca 1-0 at Stamford Bridge, with Drogba leading the line once again.

Barcelona started ominously, Messi and Sanchez exchanging a quickfire interchange of several short passes to smuggle the Argentine through into the area, but his effort flew into the side netting.

Chelsea were worried within six minutes when Gary Cahill slipped in the box, clutching his hamstring, and though the centre-back briefly tried to carry on, Jose Bosingwa replaced him.

Pique was then in the wars, colliding with his own goalkeeper and requiring medical treatment after landing on his head, but he was able to get back up again.

After an opening 19 minutes dominated more by injuries than chances, Petr Cech was called into action. More scintillating close passes on the edge of the box again put Messi through, this time centrally, but his finish lacked any venom and the goalkeeper kept it out with his foot.

Drogba started causing some problems thereafter, hooking a ball over from the corner of the area before bypassing Pique a moment later, though his angle was too tight to shoot on target.

That signalled Pique's last contribution as he succumbed to his earlier knock and Alves returned in his place, Barca maintaining their three-man back line with the Brazilian on the right of it.

After several minutes of frustration the hosts broke through. As Chelsea failed to clear a corner, Cuenca picked the ball up on the left and, with Terry playing several men onside, Busquets was on hand to turn in a simple finish.

Terry's evening got a lot worse, though, as moments after the goal, while standing off the ball alongside Sanchez, he appeared to knee the Chilean in the back.

Referee Cuneyt Cakir produced the red card after prompting from his assistant.

Chelsea's despair was compounded just before half-time. Iniesta infiltrated forward outside the last defender to receive Messi's through-ball and dispatched an expert finish calmly past Cech.

But out of nowhere, the visitors got back in it. Ramires, who was booked in the aftermath of Iniesta's goal and would play no part in the final, latched on to Frank Lampard's pass on the end of a powerful run, and the Brazilian delivered a thrilling chip over Valdes to rekindle the Blues' hopes.

The second half started disastrously for Chelsea, though. Drogba, back to help his depleted side out, mistimed his tackle on Cesc Fabregas, gifting Barca a penalty.

Messi stepped up, ready for his first goal against Chelsea - but crashed his effort onto the crossbar.

Sanchez should have done better on 54 minutes when his header dropped weakly to the left of Cech's far post.

Drogba raised eyebrows a moment later when he beat two men in his own half - including the advanced Carles Puyol - and attempted a drive from the halfway line, though Valdes' save made it look more dangerous than it was.

Barca continued pushing, as they had to, and Cech was alert when young Cuenca tested him with a shot from the left, closing him down to snuff out the danger.

There might have been a game-deciding second for Chelsea in the 67th minute as substitute Salomon Kalou battled forward on his own, getting past his markers before coming over as a rabbit in the headlights at the crucial moment, allowing Valdes to scoop up.

As the bookings mounted up - Lampard, Messi and Ivanovic - Barcelona's chances dried up. Busquets, going for an unlikely double, was only able to scoop awkwardly over as the final phase beckoned.

The home fans cheered when Sanchez had the ball in the net on 81 minutes but substitute Torres was spared blame for losing his man as it was ruled out for an offside in the build-up.

Just moments later, Messi came achingly close, firing against the post from a snapshot as Chelsea held on for dear life, Cech's touch key in drifting it onto the woodwork.

As Barca threw their last at Chelsea, they were undone. With nobody in their own half, 50-million-pound man Torres suddenly found himself clean through with space to burn.

Racing forward and rounding Valdes with his most composed head on, the Spaniard rolled it into an empty net to seal a famous triumph for Di Matteo's men.

Article

Cech has faith in referee

24 April 2012 17:01

Petr Cech has backed referee Cuneyt Cakir to ensure Tuesday's Champions League clash between Chelsea and Barcelona remains controversy-free.

Champions League ties between Chelsea and Barcelona have been eventful affairs since the sides first met in the competition seven years ago.

Alongside the performances of the teams, referees have often played a major part, with Anders Frisk and Tom Henning Ovrebo both at the centre of controversies in recent years.

However, Chelsea goalkeeper Cech has faith in Cakir, who is taking charge of his first Champions League knockout stage fixture.

"I think that the referee can be a big part of the game and you have seen that in the past," Cech said.

"They were great games between ourselves and Barcelona, and there was always a little bit of controversy which was a shame.

"It overshadowed the great games we played on the pitch but I think that we have an experienced, Turkish referee for Tuesday's match.

"If you have experience of high profile games such as Galatasaray versus Fenerbahce, then he shouldn't have a problem with a Champions League semi-final game.

"We are not a side that looks to cause trouble out on the pitch."

Chelsea hold a 1-0 advantage over Barcelona, who head into the second leg of the semi-final on the back of their first home defeat of the season, a 2-1 loss to Real Madrid.

The man who masterminded that win was former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, and Cech joked that his former boss had been helping them plot Barca's demise.

"Yes, we had a tactical meeting a few hours ago," Cech said.

"He sent over the whole file and we'll try to get it done.

"But seriously, he hasn't been in touch."

Article

Champions League preview: Barcelona v Chelsea

24 April 2012 13:00

The eyes of the world will turn to Camp Nou on Tuesday when Barcelona host Chelsea in the Champions League semi-finals.

Reigning champions Barca trail Chelsea 1-0 following their surprise defeat in the first leg at Stamford Bridge last Wednesday.

Chelsea have been well below their best for much of the season, and few observers gave them a chance of upsetting Pep Guardiola's team.

The home side did indeed see little of the ball during the 90 minutes, but somehow snatched a goal through veteran striker Didier Drogba just before the half-time whistle.

Alexis Sanchez and Pedro Rodriguez hit the woodwork for Barca, and Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech was called upon several times to deny the visitors.

Given the prize on offer, it would appear the coaches of both teams are prioritising Wednesday's return fixture over domestic considerations.

Chelsea's interim manager Roberto Di Matteo made a raft of changes for his team's visit to Arsenal in the English Premier League on Saturday, a match which ended in a 0-0 draw.

Meanwhile, Barca coach Pep Guardiola brought in Christian Tello and Thiago Alcantara, while leaving out Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas, for the Clasico at home to Real Madrid.

Jose Mourinho's Real emerged 2-1 winners from the crunch fixture, to open up a seven-point lead at the top of La Liga.

Those results mean Chelsea will be hard pressed to earn a place in next season's Champions League through a top-four finish, while Barca have effectively surrendered their Liga crown to Real.

So, with earning a place in the Champions League final now paramount to both clubs, this week's match looms as season-defining.

Drogba sat out the Arsenal draw with a minor knee complaint, but is likely to replace Fernando Torres in the Chelsea attack.

Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, Raul Meireles, Juan Mata and John Obi Mikel could all return to the starting line-up, with Ryan Bertrand, Florent Malouda, Oriol Romeu, Daniel Sturridge and Michael Essien likely to step aside.

For Barca, Sanchez and Fabregas should come in for Tello and Alcantara.

Pedro and centre-back Gerard Pique, the latter reportedly out of favour with Guardiola, are also in contention for a place in Barca's starting 11.

Article

Meireles wary of Barcelona backlash

24 April 2012 11:08

Chelsea midfielder Raul Meireles is wary of Barcelona ahead of Tuesday's Champions League semi-final second-leg clash at Camp Nou.

Roberto Di Matteo's side hold a one-goal advantage in the tie thanks to Didier Drogba's first-half strike in the sides' meeting at Stamford Bridge last week.

The Catalan giants failed to provide a positive response to that defeat as they were beaten 2-1 by Real Madrid in Saturday's El Clasico showdown - a result which saw Jose Mourinho's men move seven points clear at the top of La Liga with just four games remaining.

Meireles believes that while consecutive defeats for Barca could work in Chelsea's favour at Camp Nou, the Champions League holders will now be desperate to rekindle their European hopes after 'practically losing the league' last weekend.

"Barcelona's defeat against Real Madrid could have some effect on the game on Tuesday, but it's a double-edged sword because after practically losing the league, their challenge is Europe and they will come out with even more motivation," the Portugal international told Goal.com.

"The game at Camp Nou is a final for us. It's not easy to knock out Barcelona but first blood went to us and now we will have to play even more perfectly on Tuesday."

The Blues have been criticised for their alleged use of negative tactics in the first leg of the semi-final and, although Meireles refused to deny his side will 'park the bus' at Camp Nou, he is adamant that pressing in defence will be key to his side's chances.

"I am not the coach and I don't know what system we will use in the return match, but pressing in defence will be key and we can't let dangerous balls into our area," he said.

"Few people believed before the game at Stamford Bridge that we would have an advantage going into the second leg, but our strategy worked out well.

"We have been heavily criticised for the playing system we adopted, but it's not easy at all to stop a team like Barca from scoring. And anyway, what really matters to us at this stage of the Champions League is getting to the final.

"Park the bus? I smile when I hear such comments because Barca are always a difficult team to play against - home and away. The important thing is to get to the final and we go to Camp Nou with that objective."

Lionel Messi extended his barren run against Chelsea to seven games following last week's failure to score at Stamford Bridge although Meireles insists the Argentine is 'number one' and that the Blues will have to do all they can to make things uncomfortable for him on the night.

"Messi is the number one and there is no doubt," he said. "Now we will have to make things uncomfortable for him on the pitch and not allow him time to think about his moves. It's not easy, but that's one of our missions for Tuesday."

Meireles went on to reveal that an away goal against the Catalans could make the difference and also admitted that Di Matteo's charges will not be intimidated by the atmosphere at Camp Nou.

"It will be a game of much sacrifice and concentration," he said. "We will have to try and make Barca desperate and take advantage of any mistake to score a goal. That way, everything will be different for us.

"The atmosphere in the stands doesn't worry us. It will be against us and that's normal, but we have played in similar situations and nobody will shrink on the pitch."

Article

Wenger: Chelsea ideally placed for Barca upset

23 April 2012 13:51

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes Chelsea have a strong chance of advancing to the Champions League final at the expense of Barcelona.

Pep Guardiola's side have lost consecutive matches for the first time in three years, against Roberto Di Matteo's men and arch-rivals Real Madrid in La Liga, and Wenger believes that Chelsea could now knock them out of the competition.

"The Barcelona that we have seen last Wednesday is not the Barcelona of last year," Wenger told The Guardian.

"It is far from impossible (for Chelsea) to qualify because they go in an even better position than we did last season – 1-0 is a fantastic result."

The Gunners were knocked out of the Champions League last year by Guardiola's side after winning their first leg 2-1 at home before going down 3-1 at Camp Nou, and Wenger feels if Chelsea score it could prove to be a killer blow to the hosts, who would then need to score three times without reply to progress.

"Barcelona will have 70% of the ball but is it not worth trying to score a goal?" asked Wenger.

"That would, mentally, be a massive blow to Barcelona because I have seen last year when we scored … it was a lucky goal but I could see suddenly that they became very nervous.

"At the moment Messi looks a bit tired, although he is still dangerous. Chelsea managed to block a few shots from him on Wednesday night but usually he has such a short back lift it is difficult to do that.

"That means he is not as sharp as he was before and, if they defend like they did the other night, Chelsea have a chance.

"Inter Milan beat Barcelona that way (in the 2010 semi-final) and nobody took any credit away from Inter Milan.

"You know, if Chelsea played like that the whole season it would be more difficult to understand but in a European Cup game, against Barcelona, you understand that.

"You want them to qualify."

Article

Van Der Sar praying for Barcelona win

23 April 2012 08:14

Edwin van der Sar hit out at Chelsea for their defensive approach in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final against Barcelona.

The Premier League representatives recorded a 1-0 victory over the Catalans at Stamford Bridge, and Van der Sar said that Barca should beat Chelsea in the return 'for the sake of football'.

"For the sake of the game and for football in general, I hope Barcelona win at Camp Nou," the former Manchester United great was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

"I love teams who attack. Chelsea did nothing but defend with nine players and kept lots of players in the middle of the park.

"But this tie could have been over by now. I expected Chelsea to lose by a big figure. And it could still have been 5-1 to Barca in the end. Chelsea had just one shot at goal - and they scored."

Primera División table

# Team MP D P
2 0 +0 0
3 0 +0 0
4 0 +0 0
5 0 +0 0
6 0 +0 0

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 2 +1 4
2 1 +2 3
3 1 +2 3
4 1 +1 3
5 1 +1 3