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Barcelona 0-0 Chelsea


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F.C. Barcelona 0-0 Chelsea F.C.

Tuesday 28th April 2009, UEFA Champions League Semi Final, First Leg, Camp Nou, Barcelona

Jose Bosingwa keeps Lionel Messi quiet as the makeshift left-back defends for Chelsea.

Heroics from Petr Cech ensured Chelsea left the Camp Nou with a credible 0-0 draw against Barcelona.

With the Catalan giants the overwhelming favourites to win both on the night and the tie overall, it is a result that will please Blues boss Guus Hiddink, who oversaw the superb rearguard action of his Chelsea side. The visitors were not without chances themselves, as Frank Lampard curled wide early on before Didier Drogba was denied by a fine double save from Victor Valdes. Michael Ballack also headed over but it was Cech and his imperious defence who deserve the plaudits. Solid from start to end, Cech saved crucially from Thierry Henry and then Samuel Eto'o when one-on-one.

The scoreline means all is to play for at Stamford Bridge, with both sides needing to score to progress. The last three meetings between these two European giants have been won by the team playing the home leg second, and Chelsea will be keen to continue their excellent home record against the Catalans of four famous victories from five matches.

Hiddink elected to field Michael Essien out on the right wing as he shuffled the Chelsea pack. Alex returned to defence as Branislav Ivanovic moved back to the fullback position. As expected, Jose Bosingwa played at left-back against Lionel Messi, and John Mikel Obi retained his position in the Chelsea midfield as Nicolas Anelka dropped to the bench. Florent Malouda continued on the left wing.

Chelsea crafted the first chance of the opening exchanges when a rare foray into the opposition half saw Malouda cut back to Michael Essien after escaping the attention of Dani Alves. Essien teed up Lampard, but the England midfielder's shot was wayward and curled wide of the upright. In response, Barcelona had a shot by Messi blocked by John Terry - the Catalans were struggling to find their deadly rhythm against a disciplined defensive unit.

Ivanovic and Alex made hurried clearances as Barcelona balls into the box were only partially dealt with by Cech, as the hosts pushed forward. Pinned back, Chelsea were being trapped in the confines of their own defensive third, as all ten outfield players rushed back to defend against the pass-and-move tactic employed by Pep Guardiola. Xavi had a freekick deflected over by a solid Chelsea wall after Alex had conceded a needless freekick by fouling Messi, who was looking to be Barcelona's main attacking outlet.

Ballack found himself in the referee's notebook when he hacked down Henry, although the Frenchman showed no sign of injury when he fashioned a chance on 33 minutes; cutting inside Ivanovic and forcing a decent parry out of the Chelsea goalkeeper. Cech had his angles well-calculated and a strong pair of wrists denied the Frenchman.

But Barcelona's commitment to attack was leaving them wide open at the back, and they were almost exploited by the in-form Drogba. Bosingwa played a ball forward, and pressure from the Ivorian led to a rushed pass back from Marquez. Pouncing on the ball, Drogba's shot was blocked by Valdes, who then made a sensational recovery to claw the ball away from the Chelsea number 11 as he looked to steer home the rebound. It was the best chance of the half and a more composed finish would surely have seen the Blues take the lead.

Michael Ballack then spurned an equally good opportunity at the start of the second half when he headed over from Drogba's delivery after Alves had fouled Malouda out wide. It was a great opportunity for the German international, and one you would have expected him to have converted. It stayed 0-0. Marquez was then carried off the pitch with what appeared to be medial knee ligament damage, and Carles Puyol replaced him - and found himself in the book inside 10 minutes. The Spanish defender will now miss the return leg, and with his Mexican teammate injured, Barcelona will have to field a makeshift centre-back pairing at Stamford Bridge.

Messi then volleyed over after a training ground corner routine saw Xavi find the Argentine unmarked, before Cech palmed away a stinging drive from the right boot of Alves. Barcelona were quite clearly in the ascendancy but Chelsea's rearguard action was showing no signs of crumbling, especially with the assured Cech behind them. Alves curled over with a freekick and only a superb Cech save denied Eto'o after he had nutmegged Terry and left Alex chasing his shadow, but the outstretched leg of the goalkeeper preserved the clean sheet.

Henry went down looking for a penalty under a Bosingwa challenge moments later before the Portuguese fullback superbly stopped Messi in his tracks. Ivanovic's superb sliding tackle denied Iniesta the space to move forward as Chelsea continued to hassle and harry the hosts, and Juliano Belletti - a substitute for Lampard - was enjoying a typically tenacious cameo appearance at his former home.

Barcelona substitute Bojan wasted a glorious opportunity to win the game when he headed over from Alves' cross, and Cech then denied former Arsenal star Aliaksandr Hleb when he raced off his line to deny the Belarus midfielder.

It finished 0-0, with Chelsea becoming the first side to keep a clean sheet at the Camp Nou this season. It sets up an intriguing second leg at the Bridge. Game on.


The TalkChelsea.net Star Man award goes to...


Petr Cech, Chelsea F.C.

Faultless from start to finish, the Czech made a phenomenal save from Eto'o when one-on-one with the African.

Match Fact - prior to tonight's encounter, Barcelona had scored in every game at the Camp Nou this season.

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Alex, Terry ©, Bosingwa; Mikel, Ballack (Anelka); Essien, Lampard (Belletti), Malouda; Drogba

Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdés; Alves, Marquez (Puyol), Piqué, Abidal; Iniesta, Touré, Xavi ©; Messi, Eto'o (Bojan), Henry (Hleb)

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Agree that Cech was MOM -but he shouldnt have been - too much hoofing and giving away cheap possession.

What a 'orrible little cunt that Dani-''Gollum'' lookalike -Alves is!!!

Good chance of doing them on Wednesday -but we want the tight, keep possession, Chelsea playing. Hiddink can change the way we play for games as and when by the looks of things. They will score I feel, so we need to fly out the traps as we did when we beat them 4-2.

They haven't been that good away from home of late -and they've Madrid at the weekend which should fuck them up a bit !

We have Fulham so we should definitely rest some key players and play some reserves.......

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