Chelsea are only one perfect performance away from heading to Munich. One performance away from having a chance at finally lifting the UEFA Champions League.
This more than anything is what we want most. It’s the one Terry and co. haven’t won. The one that has eluded us through refereeing ineptitude, wild controversy and plain old bad luck. The side that progresses will be the one that wants it more.
We’ve been here before. We have shown that we are capable, if any side in europe is? We can beat Barcelona. We did it last week, and without allowing Barca an away goal. And that means we don’t have to win on this most vital of Tuesdays.
Let us put the past behind us though, but who can forget the most impressive opening of any Chelsea side with Duff slotting home. Or the sublime goal of the ever impressive Frank Lampard from an impossible angle that he maintains he did intend. Or even Ashley Cole crossing to Drogba who spun and smashed the ball home. Maybe we shouldn’t forget the past, lest we doom ourselves to make the same mistakes.
It doesn’t take a talismanic Ivorian forward to know that we’ve been robbed in the past against this over-hyped Barcelona side, and ‘f***ing disgracefully’ at that. That doesn’t matter though. We can only try control what we actually can control. We can’t control the fact that commentators the world over will fail to objectively report the game. We can’t control the referee. For large parts of the game we won’t control the ball.
Chelsea haven’t changed much from the side that saw Iniesta steal that goal in 2009, but neither have they. Barcelona play through the middle. They have no real width. They have no true striker. They lack a truly world-class goalkeeper. They have revolutionised football without ever having a plan B.
Messi can be stopped, he has never scored a goal against Chelsea. Xavi can be stopped, I call it the Mikel effect. Before the first leg Pep Guardiola, who is no Special One, just very familiar with the Catalunyan way, admitted difficulty in formulating how to create scoring opportunities against Chelsea. He wasn’t bluffing. He now claims he has no doubts they will prevail.
Now he is bluffing, as even the happiest married couple will tell you, there are always doubts. It won’t be easy, as playing any great side is never easy, but we are a great side too. Even if we aren’t thought of as such. If we lift The Champions League trophy in Munich that might change though.
We must be dynamic. We must be at the top of our game. Barcelona will play their pretentious form of anti-football that monopolises possesion, but we have to play the Chelsea way. The defensive discipline, the decisiveness in front of goal and the refusal to lose. Cech and Mikel have returned to form. Mikel’s interception of Robin Van Persie’s little disguised pass on saturday was nothing short of brilliant.
Gary Cahill and John Terry need to be immense again, and continue displaying a solidity that must have the english FA licking their collective lips. Ivanovic cannot be caught out as often as he was in the first leg. Didier Drogba’s one man campaign of terror must continue, on his day he is simply unplayeable. Ashley Cole must allow the world to see he is the best left-back on the planet, yet again.
Mata cannot drift out of the game completely for long periods. Frank Lampard must once again prove ageist sceptics wrong; yes, he is a better player than Steven Gerrard. Ramires must put in a yet another player-of-the-season performance. If we play to our strengths and do what we must do, we can do what too many don’t believe Chelsea can.
If we can somehow nick a goal and maintain our shape for the entirety of the match we will go through to the final, but we can’t play for a scoreless draw and we can’t waste possession when we do have it.
The team that wants it the most will progress. Has the Barcelona bubble popped? Are they about to experience the joy people have in tearing down heroes and making them villains? Will we have a shot at ultimate glory come the final or will we once again rue what might have been? I think the final result will be 0-0 in the Camp Nou.
Mission Possible. As always blue is the colour. See you in Munich.