Chelsea plotting Barca ambush

2012-04-17 08:24

London - Chelsea believe they can stymie the jaw-dropping goalscoring exploits of Lionel Messi and pull off an unlikely upset against Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals here Wednesday.

Messi took his season's tally to an astonishing 63 goals in 52 games at the weekend with a double strike in Barcelona's win over Levante, leaving him just four shy of Gerd Muller's all-time single-season European record of 67.

Another goal at Stamford Bridge would see the Argentinian set a new benchmark for goals in a single Champions League campaign, taking him past the record he currently shares with Jose Altafini, who scored 14 for AC Milan in 1962-63.

Referring to Messi's ongoing scoring duel with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said recently that the two players were "eating at a separate table to the rest."

The challenge for Chelsea on Wednesday is finding a way to prevent Messi from treating the English club's ageing back four as an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Yet Chelsea's elder statesmen - almost certainly featuring together in a Champions League campaign for the last time - are refusing to be cowed by Messi and Barcelona's reputation as one of the best teams of all time.

"From the start of every game, it's 50-50," Chelsea veteran Frank Lampard said. "We are in the Champions League semi-final on merit. We can't show too much fear against them. We have to respect them but also take them on and play the way we play.

"When I watch Barcelona I expect them to win but you have to believe in yourselves. We have given them tough games in the past and we are ready to try to do that again."

Nevertheless Lampard is under no illusions about the scale of the task in front of Chelsea, who come into the game with useful momentum following the 5-1 FA Cup semi-final thrashing of Tottenham at Wembley.

Lampard believes Messi has already surpassed Diego Maradona in the pantheon of all-time greats.

"He has improved since we played them in 2009 and he was a fantastic player then. The levels he has taken his game to is something I have never seen before," Lampard said.

"I grew up on Maradona. He was my idol and I think Messi has taken it to higher levels than him. To get close to 70 goals is crazy. He deserves it. He is the best player in the world."

Chelsea's last meeting with Barcelona came in the semi-finals three years ago, when Andres Iniesta's injury-time equaliser and a string of dubious refereeing decisions denied the English side a place in the final.

Lampard said Chelsea would not be entering the match motivated by a sense of revenge. "That's not really in our thoughts," Lampard said. "They have moved on from three years ago and we have changed as well."

Chelsea's interim manager Roberto Di Matteo is likely to target Barcelona's back four as he attempts to mastermind what would be the greatest win since he took over from the sacked Andre Villas-Boas in March.

Di Matteo is adamant that there are weak links in Barcelona's armour. "We just need to exploit them," Di Matteo said.

"You look at the way you can hurt Barcelona and create them difficulties. I've seen many games."

Di Matteo was also wary of obsessing about the threat posed by Messi,

"It's not just about stopping a single player, because obviously they have so many players that can hurt you," he cautioned. "It has to be a team tactic, a team strategy, to be able to limit their threat."

Barcelona coach Guardiola meanwhile says he is unfazed by the prospect of a physical approach from Chelsea.

"Am I worried by Chelsea's physical approach? No, I'm not worried," Guardiola said. "I'm used to it.

"We have the mentality to control this situation. It's very important to have this mentality."


  • Dhirshan - 2012-04-17 08:44

    objectively, chelsea can gain a draw or even sneak a win at the bridge or if it was a once off match . . . but will get murdered over 2 legs, especially at camp nou (barca are unbeaten there in 60 games). grandpa terry, uncle drogba and pie boy lampard could be in 4 a long night . . . its hard to play when you will only have 30% possession.

      schihwai - 2012-04-17 10:28

      I think chelsea can pas on slip ups.guys i believe in u.go chelsea go

      schihwai - 2012-04-17 10:28

      I think chelsea can pas on slip ups.guys i believe in u.go chelsea go

      Mikewright85 - 2012-04-18 09:08

      dhirshan u really hate chelsea dnt u haha, evry team that plays barca knows they gonna have 30% or 40% possession, i hope u wake up with egg on ur face tomorrow! and really ur grandpa terry uncle drogba and pie boy lampard just hammered spurs 5-1 as for messi? never scored against chelsea... watch what experience can do on the pitch! COME ON CHELSEA!!!!! drogba to score... gonna terrorize puyol and company with sheer strength and physicality hahaha *who are ya*

      Hanre - 2012-04-18 09:13

      Spot on Mike!

      Dhirshan - 2012-04-18 09:39

      @mike, i have a right to my opinion. i have never being abusive, personal or used race. i hate them so what. i said they could win - i was objective at least. i stated facts-barca are unbeaten at home in ages now - logic says this will continue against an aged blues team.

      Mikewright85 - 2012-04-18 10:13

      yes dhirshan bt like hanre said whenever its chelsea ur first on the thread so seems like a hatred for them, which is fair ur allowed to but so far they have proven u wrong as u wished them out long ago, and barca's team just as aged for your information, dnt know where u get the idea that its a young side? bt yes we shall have to wait and see, my personal opinion is its nt gonna be as easy for barca as u may think! bt may the best team win!

  • GrandMasterFlasch - 2012-04-17 09:15

    There will be blood. I don't see chelsea posing any threat to barça's title ambitions.

  • Nirosha - 2012-04-17 11:00

    Age vs youth, the biggest upset of all time. Chelsea will win.

  • Pumlani - 2012-04-17 11:44

    Blue is the colour, football is the game. We all together and winning is our aim, so cheer us on through the sun and rain, cause CHELSEA, CHELSEA is our name!\r\n\r\nThis will be the biggest upset in the Champions League in the last decade! Chelsea to win 4-3 over both legs.

  • sydneyarthurv - 2012-04-17 12:04

    you have to prepare at the beginning of the season for the champions league final and chelsea havent done that. They going to be humiliated in the first leg and the second will be a practice session for barca. the only way to stop barca is to defend and counter with speed and only real madrid can do that. what a final

  • PatPion - 2012-04-17 12:16

    Its going to be a cracker!

  • Riaan - 2012-04-17 13:24

    Barca will tear every single Chelsea player a new poop hole.

  • Durell Mason Dunn - 2012-04-17 18:52

    The Messi magic is gonna catch em

  • Hanre - 2012-04-18 08:59

    Whenever there is an article on news24 regarding Chelsea, Dhirshan is always not far behind. You have been speculating on our early departure from the UEFA since week one, yet we are still here brother. See you in the finals when you will again be speculating about our chances of winning Bayern. I think you are secretly a Chelsea supporter that has a crush on grandpa Terry, uncle Drogba and pie boy Lampard. I haven't seen your name on the Bafana line up, so show some respect for people who have obviously achieved more than you have. Chelsea!! Chelsea!! Chelsea!!

      Dhirshan - 2012-04-18 09:34

      @hanre, i hate the epl thats all. fans of their top teams are glory hunters! just coz it is the best marketed, naive people gets sucked in. man city are the richest club oh wow i think i will be a man city fan now. btw, i am not a barca or real fan as i wasnt born there and have nothing to do with them - i just love their style of football. unlike say mufc fans, who weren't even born in manchester, england or freaking europe but act like they own the club (again, they are only fans coz they know the mufc brand-think of placeas like china, dubai, usa etc.). not to mention english arrogance, from their fans, commentators and players themselves!

      kooveng - 2012-04-18 15:48

      @ Dhirshan, you don't have to be born there to be a supporter of what they do. There is a huge difference between fans and supporters, I agree that there are glory hunters, but not jus tin the EPL... How many Barca "fans" have popped up over the last few years??? Your lack of fore sight is amazing.. Since when has someone's birth place been a requirement to supporting anything? Grow a brain dude and stop hating and enjoy the beautiful game! And I hope Chelsea sneaks a win tonight :)

      Hanre - 2012-04-18 18:22

      Are you perhaps referring to yourself Dhirshan? I remember not so long ago reading your drivel about how Man U is the best team and how Chelsea had 'the easy' way through the Champions League (Despite us beating the team that sent Man U packing)? Do you remember that Dhirshan, or did you allegiance become somewhat blurry when you jumped on the Barca ship. Win or lose, I will still be a Chelsea supporter and I am proud of my team for coming this far in a mediocre season. Quite an accomplishment reaching the Semi's of the Champions League in an off season, don't you think?

  • K-man - 2012-04-18 10:02

    Barca is gonna come out on top, no matter what chelsea can do

  • Cyrus - 2012-04-18 12:26

    To be completely Objective, Chelsea can win at home but over two legs its a bit of a tall order. Barca to go through for sure

  • guy.tshani - 2012-04-18 18:42

    no play again to chelsea for me the chelsea is win

  • Veli Thipe - 2012-04-18 21:23

    Barca will win people and that's a fact - these are the world champions

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