Thursday, May 07, 2009

It's Barcelona vs United: Poetic justice done as cheating Chelsea bite the dust...

I wonder how many neutral supporters like me fell off the sofa laughing and cheering when Andres Iniesta fired Barcelona into the Champions League final deep into added time at Stamford Bridge? As far as I was concerned justice was done - by far the best team over two legs won and only one of them played like the home team in both semi-final legs, it wasn't those who play in Blue.

Forget about Chelsea's debatable penalty claims, but I honestly wouldn't personally have given any of them. The fact is Didier Drogba - as a great a player as he undoubtedly is - has to be the biggest cheat in the Premier League, only Steven Gerrard runs him close when it comes to diving in the penalty area. There was one second-half occasion when the Ivorian went down clutching his head when replays clearly showed there had been no contact with the lump of wood that rests between his shoulder blades. Don't get me wrong, I really like Drogba, but his antics are annoying to say the least.

It wasn't surprising that the Barcelona bench accused Drogba of cheating when waving those imaginary yellow cards at him following another attempt at conning the referee. Drogba doesn't need to cheat; he is good enough to win games without resorting to that.

It also wasn't that surprising that Sky's largely pro Chelsea pundit panel slaughtered the Norwegian referee when saying "how many big games does he get?” I personally founded those comments distasteful and insulting. The referee had a really difficult job controlling this game, with Drogba looking to fall over like a sack of spuds at any given moment - only for him to then get back up onto his feet and start charging around the pitch again. So I wasn't that surprised that the Norwegian didn't give a penalty to Chelsea, I was actually more surprised that the Ivorian wasn't booked for simulation. One of our rank bad English referees would no doubt have caved-in on the night under pressure, but the Norwegian stood firm, in my opinion he deserves much credit for that.

According to Graeme Sounnes, the biggest penalty claim was Gerard Pique's "handball". The former Liverpool and Rangers manager said "the direction of the ball clearly changed", yes Graeme it clearly did change direction, because it hit his arm - but his arm never moved towards the ball - that is the important bit. Rules are open to interpretation and on this occasion it went Barca's way, on another day with a weak referee in charge I have no doubt Chelsea would have been awarded at least one of those penalty claims, but Tom Henning Ovrebo did not fold like a cheap suit.

It was by no means a perfect performance by the Norwegian referee, he wrongly sent off Eric Abidal and he could just as easily have awarded Barcelona a penalty for a trip on Messi, Ballack and Drogba should have been red carded too, for their disgraceful antics at the end of the game.

I'm really glad Barcelona are through to the final, this is for several reasons. I didn’t want to see the same two teams in the final this year; that would have been bad for the competition. I also didn't want to give Chelsea the opportunity of avenging last year's defeat in Moscow, I also cannot stand Ashley Cole and the thought of him goading United in Rome if the final went pear-shaped is a vision of hell I can live without.

Losing to Barcelona is the more acceptable option out of the two in a worst-case scenario, but I also happen to believe United can beat the Catalans and what's more it will be far more entertaining that watching Chelsea booting the ball into the stratosphere with their rugger style of football.

11 comments:

  1. Irrespective of the penalty or not claims the facts are that Barca had one shot on target in the whole 95 minutes. Chelsea created more chances and if they had taken them would have beaten Barca convincingly. Good luck to United. I still want to see an english team win .
    TrueBlue

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  2. Yes, but Chelsea were far more negative, often putting nine men behind the ball and so you didn't entertain, what's more the fact you parked the proverbial bus on the goal-line restricted Barca.

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  3. What did Man United do last season against Barcelona???

    Pot calling Kettle black....

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  4. Yes, but at least we attacked Barca away from home and missed a penalty too, you defended in both games and may I say offered little by way of entertainment along the way. You got what you deserved.

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  5. Ridiculous quote of the day from Martin Samuel: "...the best team lost". No wonder the lump of lard has been relegated to the Daily Mail.

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  6. What u said is absolutely right!! According to me Football won...not some brawlers who were only interested in kicking football players .....Now is the perfect final Barca vs Red Devils.....Go red devils go !!!!!!!!!!!!

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  7. Poor Chelsea. They will have to wait another year now! lol x

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  8. in fact after reading your blog, I get the inspiration to start writing blog

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  9. What sort of football team relies on penalty appeals to win games? Chelski of course.

    If they think the game was 'stolen', then it means they did not even really try to score from open play. Because the best teams pick up and start over forgetting about these 'alleged injustices'. Ferguson might complain about bad calls one game, but the next game he'll still put out a positive attacking team and make sure that they score goals.

    Yet, Barcelona did not create that many chances and I think their much vaunted attack was shown up a little by Chelsea. Chelsea had many chances to seal the game and had they scored, I would have to say, they would have earned the final in Rome.

    On the balance of chances over both legs, Chelsea did the better job. What use is the fantabulous combination of Messi, Iniesta, Xavi, Dani Alves, Henry and Eto'o, if it cannot break down the ten men behind the ball that is Chelsea?

    Regardless, one team had to win, and on this occasion it was Barcelona. I don't know about the referee, it wasn't his best match I'm sure of that.

    The final will be tough, there will be fortune involved. Both sides will attack, so it should be a good game of football. Lets just hope United get the rub of the green.

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  10. Uday,

    Regarding your point about Barca's attack, I have some sympathy for the Catalans because if you're continually faced with nine men behind it can be difficult to break down and of course Chelsea parked the bus on the line.

    I'm looking forward to the final, but it doesn't look like I'm going because I cannot get a ticket.

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  11. Yeah, YOU SAID IT! Hate Chelsea's style of play! Absolutely! Their rugger and coarse style of play was highlighted when it came in contrast with the high-flying technique of Barca players. Hate to see that kind-a team in a final! Barca and Man U are both capable of good football, so let the better team win! If Barca could not go past the Chelsea defense, I doubt if they will beat the Man U defense. And Man U are better than Chelsea in attack and midfield, so judging by the Barca's semi-final, it will be a great contest which I think Man U just might clinch.

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