The 2nd leg between FC Barcelona and Chelsea FC at the Camp Nou was so bizarre that Fernando Torres sealing the advancement of the London club he’s struggled for since his transfer in January 2011 seemed only fit and proper.
(VIDEO NOTE: Replaced clip with one featuring Sky Sports’ English team, because Gary Neville’s “AWWWWWWW” is priceless.)
Let’s go over the bizarre things that happened:
- In a match where FCB needed more width, they trotted out Isaac Cuenca but left Dani Alves, their best wide attacker, on the bench. But he wasn’t there for too long.
- Gary Carhill had to go off early after tweaking his hamstring, adding him to the injured CB list for Chelsea with David Luiz. This becomes more important later.
- Gerard Pique, Victor Valdes, and Didier Drogba all clash in the Barcelona penalty box and Pique gets the worst of it, with his head bouncing on the ground. (You can see it here if you’re not feeling squeamish.) Due to the lack of center halves on the FCB roster, Pep Guardiola left Pique out there for about five minutes (where he almost gave away a penalty to Drogba) before subbing in Dani Alves.
- Sergio Busquets scored the first goal off A BARCELONA CORNER KICK PUT IN THE AIR. Barcelona scored off a freaking set piece to make it 1-1 on aggregate….
- …and John Terry reacted rather poorly, kneeing Alexis Sanchez in the back and deservedly seeing straight red for it. (Terry later denied doing it on purpose, anyone who’s seen the replays could call BS on him.)
- So the Blues are down to ten men, and looking down the long slow spiral after Leo Messi feeds Andres Iniesta for a Barça 2-nil scoreline … but FCB went right to sleep before the half, allowing Frank Lampard to point a pass right through to a running Ramires, who put a cheeky chip over Victor Valdes to give Chelsea an away-goals lead on aggregate. This comes after Ramires gets a booking for a challenge that means he won’t play in Munich.
- Please note that the Chelsea back four at this point is Ramires, Ivanovic, Jose Bosingwa (who came in for Cahill initially) and Ashley Cole — and they have 45 more minutes to park the bus, which under normal circumstances would be irksome, but with 10 men…whatever gets you through.
- And that looks real rough early on, when Drogba is whistled for bringing down Cesc Fabregas in the penalty area — BUT LEO MESSI HIT THE CROSSBAR ON THE PK. It wasn’t a poor kick, either — the idea was a good one, but when you go that way, it’s a game of inches.
- Iniesta and Ivanovic both get booked, and in Ivanovic’s case, it means he’s out of the final too.
- Cech is pretty much making amazing saves at this point when Barcelona manage to get through, as all they’re trying is the middle. Xavi is off his game and it’s a back three of Alves, Puyol, and Mascherano — does not inspire confidence.
- Salomon Kalou is on for Juan Mata and has a complete brain fart by opting not to make a run when FCB gaffe up a clearance.
- Torres comes on in the 80th minute for Drogba.
- The best chance for FCB: Messi finds Alves on the right, who scythes it through to a waiting Alexis Sanchez who taps in the back of the net … but the flag went up on Alves, who was correctly ruled offside.
- Then, we get the most improbable but ultimately appropriate of finishes presented by Barça’s forgetting to mark Torres — and thus he has Victor Valdes one-on-one, Valdes commits, and it’s an easy kick-in for Torres and a stunning jaw-dropper for the rest of us, although I called it on Twitter as soon as he walked on the pitch.
If you missed it, you should really watch the replay. The minor write-up can’t possibly do it justice.
So Chelsea will go to Munich without their captain and three other regular starters under Roberto di Matteo, but we’ve spent the whole campaign questioning them at this point. Thus, I won’t do it again and presume the winner of tomorrow’s semi at the Bernabeu will have a cake walk.