Stamford Bridge Smackdown
On Wednesday night Barça were all hat and no cattle. Ground down by a controlled and patient Chelsea side, Barcelona offered very little in the way of a gol threat. Messi played fantastically well in the first half but faded in the second fourty five. 'dinho was dreadful, Khalid Boulahrouz, who you may remember from mauling Cristiano Ronaldo in the World Cup, had him in his pocket all night. Guddy was quiet on his return to the 'bridge too.
Chelsea were far from brilliant but for all Barcelona's pass-and-move, they had absolutely no penetration up front and despite Hilario making a few decent saves in the first half he didn't have a great deal to do as the game wore on. Chelsea's gol, a screamer from sometime donkey Drogba was superb and had Michael Essien passed rather than taking a lame shot when the blues had a breakaway it would almost certainly have been two-nil.
All too frequently Barça had their final pass easily cut out. When Gudjohnsen was replaced, it was by Giuly, with 'dinho moving upfront. It's not often I'd question Rijkaard's tactics or substitutions but Ronaldinho was so poor that surely he should have been the one to get hauled off. Similarly keeping Saviola on the bench when they badly needed someone to get on the end of things. One got the feeling that had the match lasted another ninety minutes Barça still would not have scored.
They're going to have to be an awful lot better than this on Sunday night against a slow but tough Madrid side, who swept past Steaua Bucuresti on Tuesday.
Belletti to sign a new deal?
Right back Julio Belletti, currently out with a dislocated shoulder may soon be signing a new deal with the blaugrana in the coming weeks. Though he's been playing second fiddle to Gianluca Zambrotta for much of the season, he's held in high regard at the Camp Nou and a new contract should see him move up the wage scale quite a bit.