Leo’s goal finally brought Barcelona to a draw against Chelsea.
The game was so intense with Chelsea always having their eyes on Messi, keeping him off from making an attack, while making several attempts to score a goal. After striking the post twice, Chelsea finally had its leading point after Willian delivered a fine low finish in the second half.
Chelsea almost won the game if only Andreas Christensen didn’t pass the ball to Andres Iniesta, who quickly passed the ball to Messi. Having the ball on his feet, the star player finally ended his 730-minutes with a left-foot kick, just 15 minutes before the second half ended.
It was unfortunate for Chelsea, but Barca is happy. This draw gives them the return leg on Wednesday, 14 March at Nou Camp.
The Blues almost won
Chelsea knows it well that beating Barcelona was not going to be easy. In fact, they had prepared a nearly perfect strategy and fierce tactical discipline for this game. Conte was so sure that they could win this game, not until the 75th minute.
Conte’s strategy to put Eden Hazard as their “false nine” and other players blocking Messi was so brilliant that it allowed Willian enough time to score a goal. The fight later continued with Chelsea trying to build their solid defense to hold any attack. Their stunning organization and willingness spread terrors to the opponent, including Messi and Luis Suarez.
The Blues was almost won if not for Christensen. His misplaced cross brought a curse to Chelsea as it went to Iniesta, who perfectly passed the ball to Messi, their worst nightmare.
The rising of Messi
The 30-year-old Argentinian footballer finally ended his 730-minute drought in this match. The previous 8 appearances he made without a single goal did appear to us as he was training for this match.
Chelsea, at the other side, understood the risk of playing with Messi at the other side of the field. Their solution was to keep him out of the room or make him run into a mass of Chelsea’s players. It was a brilliant tactic, but it only took a slip in their player’s movement for Messi to break away and score a goal.
What would happen to Chelsea?
We could see how disappointed they are at the final whistle. Their plan failed at the last minutes. If it is not for their fans who still supported them at the end, we wouldn’t know how deep that disappointment could turn.
Despite the loss, their fans recognize Conte’s and his players’ to bring down Barca. This match is not the end. They still have the second leg to fight for. They should be ready for the next match if they seriously want to prove their value.
The most important thing we learn from yesterday’s match is Chelsea has proven itself to be dangerous. Under Conte, they always come with sheer will to win and solid organization. Even the world’s best players should be afraid. The mistake they did yesterday should also teach them to fix any gap in their strategy.
Barcelona, on the other hand, should not be considered an easy opponent. Messi is still the greatest threat they should overcome, especially when he finally proved he is still the world’s best player. With Luis Suarez, Iniesta, and other Barca players at his back, Barca can rip away Chelsea’s defense at no time.