After a dramatic night at the Nou Camp, the Blues have made it to the final of the Champions League. A few months ago no one would have believed it was possible. In fact, just a couple of days ago not many would believe it, but Roberto Di Matteo has somehow managed to shock everyone and justify Andre Villas-Boas' sacking in the process.
It is not to criticize the former Chelsea manager but rather prove that Chelsea have more quality than people credit them with. AVB was one of those who didn't believe the so-called "old-guard" was capable of delivering results and until Tuesday night, many soccer pundits thought so too. However, to say Chelsea did not deserve to go through (as some of the Spanish press have, according to The Telegraph) is quite simply a farce.
Yes, it is true that Barcelona dominated the game in terms of possession and chances. But when it came down to the finishing, Chelsea were simply more clinical in front of goal. The Blues made sure that every chance which came their way was not wasted, while Barcelona were just not as efficient.
Add that to the fact Chelsea had to defend for almost an hour with 10 men on the pitch, while utilizing a makeshift defense, and you'll find their victory was well-deserved.
Di Matteo's side were guilty of manning the barricades with nine men behind the ball for most of the match, but choosing to defend does not necessarily make a side undeserving winners.
Several sides in England adopt a similar approach, with Stoke City being one of them. Tony Pulis' men are renowned for their ability to frustrate teams with their excellent defensive discipline. The big clubs that come up against Stoke accept this and always try to find ways of penetrating the defense. It is an acceptable style of football, albeit not very attractive.
However, hiding behind the guise of negative football from the opposition is not an acceptable excuse—especially for the best team in the world. Every nation has its own style of the game, and being able to adapt accordingly is what counts, irrespective of how it is done.
Barcelona were guilty of not testing Chelsea aerially. Whenever Daniel Alves found himself with the ball, rather than cross it into the box, he squared it back to the players outside. The Catalans then became predictable and were clearly frustrated, which only helped motivate the Blues. That factor aside, Barcelona scuffed too many chances, and for that they only have themselves to blame.
In the end, Chelsea put every ounce of their energy out on the pitch and emerged deserved winners. The Stamford Bridge club have made the Champions League final for only the second time in their history, but it came at a price. Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry, Ramires and Raul Meireles are all out suspended for the final.
However, Di Matteo has come this far when no one expected him to, and if he manages to pull off a win in Munich, he could well be looking at managing the Blues next season as well.
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