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Lack of evolution means Chelsea can do little to surprise Barcelona
- Updated: 6 April, 2012
With the rekindling of the Barcelona/Chelsea Champions League rivalry now a reality, pundits and supporters alike are eager to have their say in anticipation of the occasion. From a Chelsea perspective there are those who feel that there are wrongs to be righted from the last encounter between the two sides. In Barcelona however, there is little fear in the words of the Catalan media for once.
That’s not to say supporters of the blaugrana think victory over the Roberto di Matteo’s side is a given, but rather that they are acutely aware of where both teams now stand in world football. Since the semi-final battle at Stamford Bridge in 2009, Barcelona have evolved into a European winning machine per excellence. For Chelsea however, a combination of managerial shifts, poor decisions and poor transfers have ensured stagnation.
In reality, the Chelsea side of 2012 is little different from the one of three years ago. If anything, it’s older, slower, and therefore lesser as a result. Barcelona conversely have seen Lionel Messi transform into, and then confirm himself as the greatest footballer to grace the planet at the moment.
In terms of their team as a whole the Catalans have revolutionsed and re-developed their play both in formation and the way in which their personnel now operate. That Sergio Busquets is now 100% first choice in the midfield pivot position, rather than battling with Yaya Toure for the role as was the case the last time Barça faced Chelsea is a good example of such development from Guardiola.
It’s of little surprise then that the English media have already ran quotes from Roberto Di Matteo where the Chelsea gaffer openly reveals his plans to pack the midfield and deny space at the edge of the box against Barcelona.
That Chelsea have nothing new to offer in regards to taking on the European Champions is a sign of a team who have learned little in the years that have passed between their previous meetings. For this reason, Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona can be quietly confident that should they produce close to their best football, they will progress to Munich.
In fact, if Barcelona can indeed reach the heady heights that they are capable of, their performance against Chelsea and subsequent victory should be nothing less than resounding. A win by a decent margin and performance would go a long way towards shutting up the still active groups of critics who harken back to the circumstances surrounding their last progression in Europe at Chelsea’s expense.
Perhaps if we read between the lines, even the English media is aware of the huge disparity between the two sides. The way in which U.K papers completely misread Jose Mourinho yesterday seems to suggest so.
Mourinho, with sarcasm aplenty, claimed that Barcelona’s progression to the final was a mere formality. In doing so he was making a clear reference to his previous allegations that Barcelona’s fate in Europe is decided by officials, not their football.
For much of the U.K media however, this was misinterpreted as an open declaration on Mourinho’s behalf that Chelsea had no chance against the Catalans. It hardly smacks of confidence in the Stamford Bridge outfit from their local press, and suggests the gulf of quality between the two sides cannot be denied by even the most stubborn of observers.Follow @icentrocampista