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Chelsea’s Work-Rate and Discipline Trump The Barcelona Passing Machine

by Chris Smith

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A vital Didier Drogba goal gives Chelsea a 1-0 advantage to take to the Nou Camp next week….

The Spanish side were dominant in possession and created the majority of chances, but a Drogba strike in first-half injury time gives his Chelsea side a narrow advantage to defend at the Nou Camp next week.

Roberto di Matteo’s side were forced to show resilience in defence when Barca’s pass and move game started controlling affairs, but Drogba converted Chelsea’s one clear cut chance to reward the outstanding defensive work of John Terry, Gary Cahill and Ashley Cole.

Barcelona showed just why they are considered the best team in world football by dominating over 70% of possession away from home.  However, the happier of the two sides will be Chelsea. Not only at claiming the victory but because they were able to keep the likes of Messi and co at bay.

The Stamford Bridge side’s crucial clean sheet could be what sends them through to the final in May, but di Matteo’s side rode their luck on occasions, with Barca winger Alexis Sanchez hitting the crossbar early in the first half followed by teammate Pedro hitting the post in the dying seconds.

Cheslea supporters will be delighted with the defensive work of their team, with the likes of Ashley Cole clearing off the line from a Cesc Fabregas shot, Cech saving well from Messi and two last-ditch tackles from Cahill kept the Catalan giants at bay.

In the end however, it was the Blues discipline and organisation that was rewarded. But di Matteo knows that if his side are to cause an upset next week, the same if not more will be required.

After going behind to Drogba’s strike, Barca continued as if almost failing to recognise they had fallen behind – but also in the same vein of wasting the openings they created as Adriano saw a shot pushed away by Cech and Sanchez was unable to apply the finish to Fabregas’ scooped pass.

As the game came to life, Chelsea were pushed far back into their own territory as Barca looked for an opening in the defence. However, Chelsea stood strong to survive without too many serious alarms until the closing moments, where Cech produced a fine save to keep out a Puyol header from Messi’s free-kick followed by substitute Pedro striking the base of the post, only for Sergio Busquets to lift his rebound wildly over the bar.

The interim manager will be delighted with what he saw last night and knows that if they are to produce the same next week, a final against either Real Madrid or Bayern Munich beckons.

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