Decent Effort, Mediocre Result
By Gary Watton
February 20 2018
Chelsea's prospects of progressing through to the last eight of the Champions League were left hanging by a thread, after a characteristically dramatic home encounter against perennial foes, Barcelona. A draw in the end probably flattered the visitors. They had the lion share of possession but really didn't put Tibo Courtois to any trouble. However, a lapse from an otherwise outstanding Chelsea defence was cruelly punished, as Lionel Messi belatedly opened his goals account against the Blues, after years of frustration. Perhaps Courtois committed himself too early, leaving Messi with the task of slotting home from a narrower angle, but it's hard to blame the goalkeeper. He was commanding from their corner kicks and was totally untroubled, courtesy of a well-marshalled home rearguard.
However, in spite of the heroics of the magnificent Willian and the excellent Hazard, Chelsea still reverted to their tiresome ploy of trying to outwit opponents with a mere thirty per cent of possession. If the club and its manager(s) persist in such negativity, they will not win the Champions League any time soon. They cannot reasonably expect to go through seven matches in the knockout stages of the Champions League, playing with a huge inferiority complex each outing, like a non-league team playing in the third round of the FA Cup. Even if Chelsea somehow fluke their way past Barcelona, they will try and reproduce the same fare in the next round(s) against Real or PSG or Bayern Munich or Manchester City, and such tactics will get their comeuppance eventually.
Hopefully the next time, the misfiring Morata will play up top, flanked by the dynamic duo of Hazard and Willian. The likeable Pedro just isn't up to scratch. It seemed a clever ploy to select him in the hope that he might be inspired against his former employers, but Chelsea cannot afford to carry any passengers in the business end of the season. Pedro will have to be deployed instead as an impact substitute.
Meanwhile, the pending visits to the terrible twins of Manchester ought to be ample preparation for the ordeal in the Nou Camp in mid March. It will be a minor miracle if the English champions win any of those three contests. No doubt they will try and do so with a pitiful amount of possession. How very tiresome.
CHELSEA 1 Barcelona 1; half time: 0-0
CHELSEA goal scorer: Willian
CHELSEA: Courtois; Christensen; Rudiger; Azpilicueta; Fabregas; Alonso; Kante; Moses; Pedro; Willian; Hazard. Used substitutes: Morata; Drinkwater
CHELSEA leading scorers:
Rudiger threepqs: qs:
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