April 24, 2012

Man-Down Chelsea Buries Barcelona: After captain John Terry was red-carded in the 39th minute, a 10-man Chelsea FC squad fell down 2-nil and then mounted a comeback for the ages to tie FC Barcelona 2-2 and advance on aggregate to the Champions League final. Ramires scored a goal right before the half and Fernando Torres clinched it in extra time.

posted by rcade to soccer at 08:16 PM - 22 comments

That was one of the greatest soccer matches I've ever seen. Terry's stupid stunt (followed by that Oscar-quality dive) should have buried Chelsea, but they came back despite getting possession one out of every four minutes.

The way they closed down Barcelona during the final 20-minute barrage was unbelievable.

posted by rcade at 08:37 PM on April 24, 2012

It was a very exciting match, and I thought for sure when that idiot John Terry was shown a red card, that Chelsea would fold easily under the Barca pressure; so good on his teammates for playing hard and pulling out the victory. I still hope they give him hell for his stupid away-from-the-ball foul. What a tool he is. Chelsea were also lucky that Messi missed that penalty early in the second half.

I very much dislike Barca despite my affection for Messi. But as an Arsenal supporter I now fear Arsenal finishing fourth in the Premiere League and Chelsea winning the Champions League leaving us to Europa League. Such a scenario could mean Robin van Persie leaving London. So come on Bayern Munich! I dislike Real Madrid too, but that's because of Jos Mourinho.

Today's loss means that Barca has lost three-in-a-row for the first time since 2003, I think I heard.

posted by scully at 09:04 PM on April 24, 2012

scully -- who is going to overtake Arsenal for third? Seems more likely for Newcastle or Spurs to get the shaft.

Also, while it seemed like a loss, Barca did not lose the game, so the last 3 is L-L-D and not 3 consecutive losses.

posted by holden at 10:58 PM on April 24, 2012

"I raised my knee but hopefully the people out there who know me, know I'm not that kind of player."

Bollocks. And Arjen Robben needs to come up good against his last club tomorrow, and his second-to-last club in the final.

posted by etagloh at 11:31 PM on April 24, 2012

Outstanding intensity and drama. The Lampard pass and Ramires chip combined for as beautiful a goal as you could hope to see to take a side through to a final.

scully - I love the Gunners but if they can't secure 3rd place at this point, maybe they don't deserve Champions League football next year (though I would hate to see RVP leave too - of course maybe he will anyway).

posted by sbacharach at 11:41 PM on April 24, 2012

You'd be worried as a Chelsea fan about the backline/defensive midfield for the final.

Terry suspended, Cahill possibly injured, Ramires and Mereiles also out.

/David Luiz to the rescue!

posted by owlhouse at 01:34 AM on April 25, 2012

Terry's so hot and cold these days, it might not be terrible news that he's missing. If David Luiz and Cahill are fit, that sounds a decent pair of centre backs to me (as long as someone has a stern discussion with Sideshow Bob before the match about his attacking inclinations and how to curb them a bit).

Mereiles was superb in both legs against the Catalan midgets, but I'm not convinced he'd have been the right man for the job against the more physical challenge that will be presented in the final by either Bayern or Madrid. Essien has looked a bit of a spent force since his last injury, but he's also had some good games, notably when playing in the same side as Luiz, when he's shown a real aptitude for tracking back to cover the holes he leaves when he galavants off in search of goals.

Ramires will really be missed. He looks like the real deal, like Sturidge, except he plays with his head up, has an exquisite passing game, and is willing to cover back all day long... so not really at all like Sturidge. Perhaps the way to go would be to play Torres in a Ramires role. The Spaniard has also shown surprising willingness to put the work in defensively all season. Even as a Liverpool fan who should be gleeful about his lack of goals since we sold him, I haven't been and was delighted to see him wrap it up so calmly last night when the opportunity presented itself.

Ivanovic is an absolute liability. I was at the first leg at Stamford Bridge and where we were sitting was more or less right up the defensive line for three big offside shouts against Barca in the first half - all three looked yards offside, until I looked all the way across the pitch to Ivanovic wandering about playing everyone on. He also went on a couple of forward runs and then was unable (or unwilling) to get back into position quickly enough once he lost the ball. He was better last night, and I really felt for him after the game when he clearly didn't realise he was going to miss the final until the interviewer told him so, but even so, it's not necessarily a catastrophe that he's out. Mind you, Bosingwa's not much better on the liability front.

The one good thing for Chelsea about all of those guys being out of the final is that they won't be distracted by it or saving themselves for it in either the FA Cup Final or the race for fourth spot in the league.

posted by JJ at 07:59 AM on April 25, 2012

holden, you are correct. The match was a draw. Bet the Barca fans didn't think so though ;)

I think Newcastle has been playing some inspired football, while Arsenal haven't been playing as well as they were. They looked half asleep in the Chelsea tie on Saturday. I am less concerned with Sp*rs who have had trouble since their loss to Arsenal. I think having their coach with one foot out the door to possible coach the national team may have something to do with that.

Still don't want Chelsea to win ... unless Arsenal are guaranteed third and Sp*rs are in fourth ;)

posted by scully at 08:25 AM on April 25, 2012

The outlook was somewhat dodgy for the Barca eleven that day:
The score stood two to one, with but forty more to play.
But when Drogba went to ground and wily Fabregas did the same,
A roar rose up in the stands from the patrons of the game.

All but a straggling few went to their feet. But even they, with the rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, if only Messi could but take the penalty shot,
We'd put up even money, now, with Messi at the spot.

And Xavi spoke to Messi, as did also Andres I.,
And the former was an assassin and the latter, my oh my;
So upon that joyous multitude no melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Messi ever missing that.

And Cech went back to his line, to the joyous screams of all,
And the Turkish ref, the much despised, bent down to place the ball;
And when the crowd had quieted, and the men saw what had occurred,
There was a perfect opportunity for Barca to score its third.

Then from 90,000 throats and more there rose a happy screech,
It rumbled down Las Ramblas, it rattled on the beach;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon Park Guell,
For Messi mighty Messi, had come to answer the bell.

There was ease in Messi's manner as he stepped into his place;
There was calm in Messi's bearing and a smile on Messi's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he shyly looked at the ground,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt that vital goal was found.

Ninety thousand eyes were on him as he knocked his boots into the dirt;
Ninety thousand tongues applauded when he tugged upon his shirt.
Then while the menacing Cech glared lustily at the ball,
Defiance gleamed in Messi's eye, as he contemplated Chelsea's fall.

And while the leather-covered sphere sat unmoving on the ground,
And Messi stood a-watching it like some long-lost item found,
The commentators commentated that it was all over now,
This was too much for just ten men, there just was no way how.

From the benches, black with people, there went up another roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
"Bury it, our Messi!" shouted someone on the stand;
And its likely they'd have kept it up had not Messi raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Messi's visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He looked to the ref, whose whistle signaled "When you will";
And as Messi stepped up to the ball, it seemed that time stood still.

The hearts of multitudes of Catalans rose up into their throats;
From children watching it at home to the fishermen upon their boats.
They saw Messi's face grow serious, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Messi wouldn't let this chance go by in vain.

No sneer is found on Messi's lip, his brow furrowed in thought;
He moves himself with grace as wheels up to the spot.
And as Leo approaches the ball, his boots, they seem to glow,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Messi's blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, in places near and far;
But there is no joy in Barca - mighty Messi hit the bar.

posted by holden at 10:06 AM on April 25, 2012

very nice, holden.

posted by mbd1 at 11:11 AM on April 25, 2012

Fabulous piece of work.

We should open a series of SpoFi theme taverns in various locations. I would name one of them Holden's Verse. And perhaps another one would be Grum's Numbers.

Rcade's microbrewery would be called Vat City. Rosary waistband, red monkey hat and matching slippers mandatory.

posted by beaverboard at 11:53 AM on April 25, 2012

Rcade's microbrewery would be called Vat City.

Perhaps Vas City Microbrewery?

posted by holden at 12:08 PM on April 25, 2012

We should open a series of SpoFi theme taverns in various locations.

We need one called The Dead Horse.

posted by tron7 at 12:18 PM on April 25, 2012

Already been done.

posted by yerfatma at 01:08 PM on April 25, 2012

We should open a series of SpoFi theme taverns in various locations

I'll run the 'Train Wreak'.

posted by Folkways at 03:37 PM on April 25, 2012

Nuff Ced would be my choice.

posted by Howard_T at 04:49 PM on April 25, 2012

holden's poem added to The Sidelines. Well done, mate.

posted by scully at 08:24 PM on April 25, 2012

Apparently the game inspired a few Tweets.


posted by yerfatma at 09:30 PM on April 25, 2012

We should open a series of SpoFi theme taverns in various locations

I will happily open the Clam Shot here in South Bend...

posted by The_Black_Hand at 06:28 AM on April 26, 2012

I was thinking of a Havana-themed bar called the Bang Castro.

posted by owlhouse at 08:17 AM on April 26, 2012

holden, hope you don't mind my giving your poem a name. if you prefer a different one, let me know!

posted by scully at 09:47 AM on April 26, 2012

scully -- thanks. I had meant to post that exact title at the top, but missed it in the mass of words. And thanks for posting to the Sidelines.

posted by holden at 10:27 AM on April 26, 2012

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