Barcelona vs Chelsea – 3 Short Observations

Three short observations on the Barcelona vs Chelsea game last night:-

Chelsea‘s Organisation

The two goals Barcelona scored both occurred when Chelsea lost their shape and Barcelona were able to exploit it.

Firstly, the corner kick which led to Busquets goal was cleared but too many Chelsea players lost their discipline and tried to charge Dani Alves when he collected the ball about thirty yards out. The ball was slipped to Cuenca and Barcelona were in behind Chelsea.

Secondly, following a Chelsea attack, the players did not retreat quickly enough and tried to press too high. Once Messi received the ball and broke through the midfield, he was able to run directly at the back four before playing in Iniesta for the goal.

Two moments in the game when Chelsea lost their organisation temporarily and were punished. However, it also demonstrated how difficult Barcelona were finding it to break down the Chelsea defence.

With a mass of bodies,Chelsea prevented Barcelona from going around them and made Barcelona attempt to play through them. Chelsea retained their shape even when down to 10 men with a back four and five in midfield, Drogba switched to playing as an auxiliary left back in the second half.

The discipline, organisation and workrate shown by Chelsea was very impressive and ultimately, very successful.

Why won’t Barcelona shoot?

As it says on the tin.

Barcelona very seldom shoot from about 25 yards, preferring to continue passing to create an opening. But when that opening does not arrive they need to shoot from distance more often. Mascherano had two shots from outside the penalty area and Messi shot from the edge of the area which struck the post after a slight touch from Cech.

Why does nobody want to shoot?

This was an area that I had assumed Fabregas would help resolve following his arrival from Arsenal. As the most attacking of the midfielders at the Gunners, Fabregas frequently shot at goal in and around the area.

When he joined Barcelona, Fabregas was criticised by some of the coaches for his direct style and there was talk of him bringing “anarchy” to the team due to his English “indiscipline”. Perhaps Barcelona could have used some of that anarchy last night.

Where is the Plan B?

In the second half especially (although somewhat understandable given that they were only playing with 10 men),Chelsea were camped around their own penalty area.Barcelona had 82% possession yet could not break them down.

Does it sound familiar?

Have the lessons from Inter not been learned? Do they need a Plan B?

True, Barcelona were only a refereeing decision away from knocking Inter out (Bojan perhaps unfairly penalised for handball before he scored) and last night had Messi not missed a penalty or Ivanovic blocked the shot from Iniesta, Barcelona would have progressed.

However, the similarities between before games in terms of Barcelona being faced by a wall and unable to break it down were abundantly clear.

There will be countless arguments now over why Barcelona need a Plan B. In typical tabloid fashion this will be the big target man i.e. Llorente.

Llorente may well add something to this Barcelona team but now is not the time for the club to panic.

Let’s place it in context.

Chelsea had 4 shots on target in 180 minutes of football and scored 3 times. That is quite remarkable. Over both games,Barcelona had 47 attempts at goal to Chelsea’s 11.

Do Barcelona actually need to change anything? Surely the statistics prove who the better team is?

But, in cliched football parlance, at the end of the day it is the result that matters.

Or is it?

A decent footballer once said “There is no greater prize than being acclaimed for your style”

And that is why Barcelona cannot and must not deviate from their current methods. They must remain true to the style of football installed by Cryuff and refined and improved under Guardiola.

When questioned after the game about what he would tell a child who has cried forBarcelonafor the first time after the exit to Chelsea, Guardiola calmly responded “Welcome to the club. You will cry more times”