Barcelona vs Chelsea : A victory for Barcelona or for football as a whole?

Iniesta HeroIn 1894 Charles Miller arrived in Brazil with a ball and a set of rules for a game, the intention being to score a goal. Barcelona on Wednesday night demonstrated their intent to play the way that the beautiful game was intended to be played, and to set about a task as only they knew how. Miller took to the streets of Brazil where they now commonly state “the English created it, we perfected it.

It is with this sentiment in mind we can look at the Champions League tie midweek. FC Barcelona, the fruition of Catalonia and their philosophy of being separate from the rest. With significant Catalan nationalist sentiment present in a part of the population of Catalonia, a sense of independence is massively important. This is something that is expressed in their football team…to be independent, to be ‘different’ from the rest. Barcelona are ‘Mes Que Un Club’ – More than a club.

You only have to look at the Primera Division this season to see the stark difference in Barcelona to the rest of the teams in the league. Their front 3 alone have scored over 100 goals in all competitions, playing to entertain and mesmerise their Camp Nou faithful… and with some success with their bitter rivals humbled 6-2 in a demolition job. They have used a philosophy to play with purpose and creativity to achieve the goal that Miller intended; to get the ball in the back of the net. Now, just as the Brazilians claim to have perfected it, at club level, Barcelona is looking to do that same thing with a side made up from talent (that they themselves have seeded and watered). They had no fewer than 7 products of their famous ‘La Masia’ (the cottage) youth development program in their squad on Wednesday night. In the first leg they came out with the intent to get a goal, to WIN the game. Only to be stopped by means they were unfamiliar with, a 10 man wall that never relented.

Their opponents, West London side Chelsea FC, could not have proved to have been a bigger contrast to their own style. The side was bought and is looked after by their super rich owner Roman Abramovic, who dreams of the kind of history their Spanish rivals have had. Chelsea, are the club with a foreign owner, a foreign manager and only 3 of their squad members of the England national team. Their approach to the game was not to win, but to simply stop the most potent strike force in world football, a complete difference in philosophy to that of their rivals.

Maybe that’s Chelsea’s problem, a lack of a philosophy or image? Owner Abramovic wants to play beautiful football, but he doesn’t have the necessary players to do it.

The second leg continued much like the first, although Chelsea did at least make an attempt to come forward a little. Their early wonder goal from Michael Essien proved to be the catalyst to send them back to what they knew best, defending. The game was ending with Barcelona having above 70% possession of the ball, passing and probing. Lionel Messi, the best player in the world, was bullied off the ball (legally mind!) and countered by no less than 3 players assigned to stop him. However, he gave the most vital contribution, a simple square ball to the legend in the making… Andres Iniesta. The epitome of professionalism, the “choir boy” took one swing of his gifted right foot and guided the ball into the top corner of the net, Barcelona got what they needed, that away goal! As he almost cried in celebration his team mobbed their new hero!

Chelsea’s naivety in not going for the away goal when in Barcelona is what has ultimately cost them. Barcelona came to play and score, only for Chelsea to “park their bus”…AGAIN, but this time releasing the odd ball forward when allowed to. To their credit, tactically it was almost perfect; it got them so close to Rome… the ugly way. Yet through their brilliance and determination, the Barcelona team managed to carve out ‘that’ chance with all the attacking verve and desire that they have been ordered to demonstrate since their youth team days.

Drogba madmanFootball is about getting a goal, not stopping it. It depends on your own views on how the game should be played, but over the two legs, the more professional, game playing team went through. The “Dream team II” managed to keep their cool after their own first leg frustrations with the ref. Chelsea, without philosophy, a confused club not sure of their identity, erupted. The words “disgrace” and “shame” have been used to describe the teams’ actions after the game. Such a lack of professionalism should not be rewarded.

Iniesta, Messi and Co. deserve their place in the final…they along with Manchester United will go with the intention to play the game, to score goals…at least we hope! Either way it should be a great final.

Is football the winner? You decide.

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