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Chelsea vs. Barcelona: Barca Must Finish Chances in Return Leg

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 18:  Didier Drogba of Chelsea shoots to score the opening goal as Adriano Correia (R) of Barcelona closes induring the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between Chelsea and Barcelona at Stamford Bridge on April 18, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
Jasper Juinen/Getty Images
Ethan GrantAnalyst IApril 18, 2012

Chelsea got a leg up on Wednesday in the race to feature in the Champions League final, outlasting Barcelona 1-0 at Stamford Bridge on the strength of a Didier Drogba goal and some timely luck over the course of the match.

The return leg to Camp Nou will certainly be one to mark on your calendar. These two clubs will meet April 24th, and the victory today by Chelsea certainly doesn't give them enough breathing room to let up in the next meeting.

However, if Barca is to return to the top of the Champions League final race, they'll have to capitalize on chances that slipped right through the cracks in front of the Chelsea faithful.

In the 93rd minute, Barca had a chance when Pedro hit the post, only to see the ball bounce to teammate Sergio Busquets right in position for a goal to even the score. But Busquets sent one over the bar into the stands, ending any chance for late-game heroics and an even slate for the next leg.

The stat of the game was an easy one to find: Barcelona had 24 shots, six of them coming on target, yet no goals to show for their effort. Chelsea managed just four shots and one on target, Drogba's goal (45th minute). But the only stat that tells the circumstances for the next meeting is the 1-0 final in Chelsea's favor.

If Barca is going to move on to the Champions League final, they'll need more from their best player, Lionel Messi, and they certainly can't have blatant misfires in crucial moments like they did on Wednesday.

Give credit to Chelsea GK Petr Cech for taking away two sure scoring opportunities as well, keeping the shutout alive and proving that he is one of the best GKs in the world when he wants to be.

I've said it once, and I'll say it again: April 24th at the Camp Nou will be a highly anticipated match on everyone's radar.

Can Chelsea get a goal or two and shock the world? Or will Barca tighten up and prove they are the team to beat in the CL? Thankfully, it's only a week before all of our questions are answered.

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