5 maj 2009

Jämförelser - Comparisons

Även publicerad på Chelse Vital

My very own look at similarities and dissimilarities between the combatants on Wednesday night.

As I already yesterday predicted I do believe in a Chelsea win (3-2) in a game that will be both similar and very different from the first at Camp Nou. The similar part is that Chelsea have to contain Barcelona as well as at the Camp Nou, cut of the options and ball service by Messi, Xavi and Iniesta. Be patient and play physical, which they obviously can not take. Annoy them, frustrate them.

The difference is the obvious one. We need to score. And we need to score one goal more than Barcelona. I do not want it to go to penalties, which only a no score draw will ensure.

Something we absolutely can do. We scored 7 goals against Liverpool in two games, and that is a team with a real defence.

But let us break down the ingredients of this game that might be as magical as of March 8 four years ago. Yes, I am talking about one of my great football nights, the 4-2 victory over the media love. (Also, in the first game at Camp Nou, a certain Juliano Belletti actually scored an own goal, nothing like that in this game please).

Tactics. Not Pep Guardiola`s forte. It is however something few can outfox Guus Hiddink at. Barcelona have only one way to play football, disturb that and they are not unbeatable in any way. Chelsea can play the parking the bus game of Camp Nou, we can play the open scoring game of Anfield and we can play crazy games like Liverpool at Stamford Bridge. We can also play 4-4-2 as in the first half against Fulham or our usual 4-3-3 as in the second half Saturday. And any variation thereof. Advantage Chelsea.

Game Coach. Again this goes to Guus Hiddink who in my view is the best game coach football has ever seen. No one can change the games like he can, as he so many times has shown in the biggest tournaments in the world, both with national and club teams. Pep Guardiola might be able to change a game plan, I have never seen him do it. Advantage Chelsea.


Goal. Petr Cech is capable of being the best in the world on any given time. He can also make mistakes as all goalkeepers, especially as Chelsea are not the best team at keeping the crosses away from goal, however that is a game Barcelona rarely play as they have no good headers in the team with Puyol suspended. Their best now is Henry and no one is sure if he can play. Victor Valdes has improved the last couple of years, but is not a world class goalkeeper normally. Advantage Chelsea.

Back Four. Defensively Chelsea`s back four, probably Bosingwa, Alex, JT and Cole are all better than Barcelona`s crippled selection. Barcelona will sorely miss their two best headers and two best defensive players, Puyol and Marquez. In the air Chelsea are not only better, Chelsea are superior both in our and their box. Bosingwa held Messi with the help of Malouda at Camp Nou, this time the honour will go to Ashley Cole who I think is the best marking full back around - just look at his record against Cristiano Ronaldo. Man U has to move Ronaldo to the other side when he comes up against Cole. Daniel Alves, the diver, is awesome going forward and feeding Messi and overlapping with him. But both Bosingwa and Cole are also good in that business, and we kept them quiet a week ago. Advantage Chelsea.

Defensive Midfield Yaya Touré has given Barcelona strength in this area which they lacked before, but will get too little help from his collegues if pressured. I think Michael Ballack will be chosen to play the holding midfielder. It is not his best position, but he has done more than an adequate job lately playing there, and when it comes to actually moving around and covering ground on a football field I think only Park at Man U gets around more. Ballack is also one of Chelsea`s best headers and taker of set pieces. Chelsea can also play Essien in this position. Either way, Advantage Chelsea.

Offensive Midfield. Two very different set ups. Physically big advantage to Chelsea, but that is only a piece of the truth. I think Chelsea will play Essien to the right with orders to help Bosingwa defensively and Lampard to the left going more forward. Barcelona will play Xavi and Iniesta. Xavi is the best passer in the game today and Iniesta is a very creative, speedy player that likes to go into the box. Xavi has a good shot, Iniesta can shoot but not as well. Lampard is the highest scoring midfielder in the world with a big repertoire. Essien is Bison, never tires and plays a very intelligent game of football. Has improved his shot a lot but his main job will be to trash the Barcelona build up in midfield. I give the Advantage to Barcelona. But only slightly as a midfield unit.

Attack. It will be hard to see if Chelsea will try to play with two strong attackers or the usual three. I think Anelka will start, but it is just as likely as Hiddink will use him as an early sub and go with the speedier Kalou. So let us compare the players. Messi is the world`s best footballer right now. No matter who we compare him to. Eto`o is a rather weak player who is amazingly easy to get unsettled, a typical box striker. Very good feet, no head. Compared to Drogba he comes a far second. Henry is a complete footballer that is closing in on his old form at Arsenal. I think he is better than Anelka. Malouda has come along greatly under Hiddink and is getting close to the player he was for France and Lyon, but among these he is the weakest link. 2/3 Advantage Barcelona.

Key Factor. Chelsea will utilise set pieces and are superior at this. Corners will be a lethal threat with head players like Terry, Alex, Ballack, Anelka and Drogba. Free-kicks also goes to Chelsea with players like Lampard, Ballack, Alex and Drogba all being able to take them depending on place and distance. Since Ronaldinho left Barcelona they do not have a world class free-kicker though they have several able ones, Xavi and Henry the top ones I think. Chelsea will seek these set pieces with a totally different vigour than at the Camp Nou. If the referee is weak feel free to dive for them lads. Big advantage Chelsea.

Physics. Chelsea will be better and better in the game as I strongly believe that Chelsea have better stamina, strength, condition. We have shown so many times our ability to physically grind down opponents. Only a bore draw will give extra time, but if it comes to that I think Chelsea will be the strongest. Advantage Chelsea.

Dangers. Barcelona`s speed, ball control, individual skills in their three star players, Messi, Xavi and Iniesta. All tiny players with superb technique, game intelligence and unlike the others they do not dive as much as they all have extremely good balance, due to the shorter legs compared to their upper bodies. In all three categories here, Advantage Barcelona.

Referee I do fear a referee that wants to put his mark on the game, a referee that falls for all the Barcelona diving and whining. The rumour when this is written that we will not get a latin ref, amazingly enough, but a Norwegian. I know nothing of him. If the game is allowed to be played by the rules of football which allows physical contact I feel confident, but we have all seen referees that just love to put themselves at the centre of attention and that will not be good for us. In big games the refereeing also becomes more important than in the ordinary ones. Getting a lot of cards for Chelsea will cramp our players, we already have some that risk missing a final, a consideration that might not be up front in their minds, but still is there.

I am still confident that we can upset all the pundits and experts of football. They will hate us as usual, but that only makes us stronger. This could very well be our year.






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