May 6, 2009: Stamford Bridge, London, England.
FC BARCELONA – 1, Chelsea – 1
Just days after the win at the Bernabeu and La Liga in their pocket, Barcelona looked to earn a spot in the 2009 UEFA Champions League Final with a win or draw against Chelsea.
Personally, as a fan, I was very nervous the days prior to the game. While I was happy that Barcelona won La Liga, I wanted the Champions more than La Liga, to be honest with you. I knew it was going to be tough for them to win at Stamford Bridge, so my hope was that Barça tied.
The game turned out to be one of the most emotional and controversial games in football history.
The game had so many controversial calls and non-calls that I may not get to all of them. Let me say this, this is not a debate of whether Chelsea got robbed or about Tom Henning Overbo or anything like that. I understand most people believe Chelsea got robbed and I would probably feel differently about the game if I wasn’t a Barcelona fan.
This is just a summary of the game from a Culés perspective.
The game got off to a great start for Chelsea, as Michael Essien scored an amazing goal from the volley for the 1-0 lead.
Didier Drogba was in full beast mode. The Chelsea striker was continuously going after the goal and had numerous chances to end the semifinals. But to be fair, there were at least two fouls on Drogba that could have—or should have—been called penalty.
Messi did not have a great game; neither did most of the other players. Barcelona had no shots on goal through 90 minutes. The Chelsea defense was strong and Drogba and Nicolas Anelka continued to attack.
Overall, it was a very frustrating game for Culés.
It seemed like the Champions League was not meant to be, heading into stoppage time. The dream seemed over.
Then came one of the greatest moments in FC Barcelona history.
In the 90+3 minute, Dani Alves finally got a good cross into the area. John Terry headed the ball away which landed at the feet of Samuel Eto’o. Eto’o passed it to Messi who was at the top left of the box. Messi dribbled and took three defenders with him until he passed it to Andres Iniesta who—until South Africa a year later—made the biggest goal of his career past an outstretched Petr Cech.
All Culés, the city of Barcelona, and all of Catalunya screamed—some cried—in celebration.
When that ball went in, it took me about three seconds after Iniesta ran around the pitch, that I actually realized what had happened. I couldn’t believe it happened. I remember jumping up in celebration. I ran like Pep Guardiola did.
I could only imagine how the people in the city of Barcelona were going crazy. It was the greatest moment for me as a Culé.
I got text messages saying how lucky Barça was. Some texts said how Chelsea got robbed by the ref. I wasn't thinking about any of that.
All I was thinking was that this team was a team of destiny.
Barcelona went on to win the 2009 UEFA Champions League title, defeating Manchester United 2-0 in Rome.
Even though the Final against Man U is technically the most important game, it is less memorable because of the drama—and controversy—of the Chelsea game. This game felt like a championship game.
This game is tarnished to most by the controversy involved.
But for Culés, the memory, the emotions and the joy of that game will always live in our hearts.