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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

"120,000 Barcelona fans go to their home games, and they're all here tonight."

The energy at Stamford Bridge was nothing short of electrifying. Flipping back and forth with the Ajax-Inter match, it was like watching the Rumble in the Jungle on one side and Punch and Judy on the other. And it didn't take long for things to kick off, in the familiar sense.

Here's how TDH saw the first half:

The Catalans had about 99 percent of the possession, and Fat Frank was completely missing in action. Chelsea never stopped pressuring, though, so Barca failed to hit its usual easy rhythm. Cech took care of their biggest chance.

Del Horno's charge into Messi was plainly devoid of any intention related to the ball, and by that measure, the red card was deserved. It seemed a little harsh, though, given that Messi 1) saw the challenge coming and 2) made a meal of it with the usual rolling around. The missed penalty call on Geremi, after Marquez connected with a corner, was nothing to cry about; there never should have been a corner kick in the first place, since Cech never touched the ball on the previous play.

And the second half:

If you wondered who that shaggy mop playing in place of Iniesta was, now you know: Thiago Motta, whose knee scored Chelsea's first goal of the tie. Then it was a case of Terry giveth, and Terry taketh away. The skipper's glancing header unluckily found his own net, but he then made two incredible stops playing as a surrogate keeper.

Still, Rijkaard's decision to play an extra striker, Larsson, against 10-man opposition eventually paid off. Mourinho had opted to put on Geremi, rather than a pure defender, after Del Horno's dismissal; Ferreira, though he did everything he could, was unable to cover both wings at once.

Somehow, Robben and Deco both managed to escape without a single yellow card between them. Iniesta, Deco's sub, picked one up within about a minute of touching the pitch. TDH is still trying to figure that one out.


Mara will undoubtedly feel some consternation that Inter managed to come back from 2-0 down in Amsterdam. Indeed, it was a night for 2-2 scorelines, except that Werder Bremen somehow stole one of Chelsea's goals. And of course, somewhere far in the wilds of Northern England, the Magpies grabbed a point from FC Curbs. Ahhhh.


Anonymous Dodgy said...

Grabbed a point? We should've had all three if that ameoba would delight us all and illustrate why he gets a ridiculous sum of money on a weekly basis.

I didn't get a chance to see the Ajax-Inter game, but surely I wasn't alone in being shocked at the halftime scoreline? I was listening to the Mags on the radio and so I only had the periodic updates, but I really thought Inter would have done much much better. Especially with Ajax being without Grygera,Galasek, and Sneijder (for what their worth).

1:10 AM  
Blogger the Maradona of Malawi said...

you're right, I was effed off with Inter's comeback.

But I have to disagree with your call about Del Horno's red card - since there was no intention to play the ball, but the foul was at most innocuous (body check, not feet or arms involved) and Messi was in no danger of scoring from there, a yellow card would have sufficed. My sense of outrage caused my sympathies to shift firmly to Chelsea, despite the subbing of Young Joe.

The first 25 minutes of the second half displayed everything thats good about this Chelsea side. They worked hard to close down Barca, and so had a lot of the ball, they shuffled the pack to put Drogba withdrawn and Robben right up against the last defender which allowed Didi to play in the midfield while allowing Robben to run at that highly dubious defence (last night just confirmed that Puyol only looks good next to those fools he plays with. World class was epitomised by Terry. Puyol isn't fit to lace Carvalho's boots). Robben looked incredible running at that defence.

Barca must be favourites, but given that the game is only 2-1 and Chelsea should have 11 men for most of the next game, anything can happen.

5:45 AM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

Yeah, I read the Charlton match report, and it sounded like the lads would easily have taken all three points with the aid of a decent striker.

It's true that Messi wasn't the "last man" and didn't look like he was about to score, but the challenge was so ham-handed that Del Horno had to know he was taking his chances. Having said that, had he been awarded a yellow, I don't think Rijkaard or anyone else (except Deco) would have been clamoring for a red. Well, if anyone can get Chelsea charged up for the away leg, it's The Special One....

2:25 PM  

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