Chelsea Vs. Barcelona, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Catalans Might Have A Problem In Goal

By IndepthAfrica
In Soccer
Apr 18th, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 17: Xavi Hernandez (centre) of Barcelona in action during a training session ahead of their UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on April 17, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Barcelona are heavy, heavy, heavy favorites to best Chelsea in their UEFA Champions League semifinal and go onto Munich for the final. Their defense is the best in La Liga and while they do not lead the league, their attack, led by Messi and the midfield duo of Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez, is as dangerous as you would imagine for a team with those players on the pitch. The Catalans look well on their way to the final.

One place that has not been a concern for Barcelona has been goalkeeper. Victor Valdes has been relatively healthy and in top form for years so it’s almost an afterthought that they have a goalkeeper because you never hear anybody talk about him. He’s just that reliable, or is he? After years of sure-handed, smart and decisive goalkeeping, Aaron Duckling from Barca Blaugranes is beginning to worry about Valdes.

Victor Valdes will start in goal as per usual, and ideally we will see the Valdes we all know and love, rather than that doppelganger that has been taking his place between the sticks in key matches. For example, his error against Real Madrid was pretty disastrous, while the less said about that feeble attempt at collecting a corner on Saturday, the better. Usually Valdes rises to the occasion, but increasingly I have noticed those moments of jaw-dropping brilliance are being diluted by schoolboy errors. They are few and far between, but enough to cause some concern heading into the most important week of the season.

Chelsea will likely need to play perfectly to beat Barcelona over two legs and even then, they will likely need some help from the Catalans. Could Valdes provide them that help with some of those “schoolboy errors”? It’s not something Barcelona fans have had to worry about before, but after this season, it might be time to start.

For more on the Blues, check out SB Nation Chelsea blog We Ain’t Got No History. For their opposition, visit Barca Blaugranes. We’ll have more pre-game updates, as well as live coverage of the match, in this story stream, so stay tuned!

Apr 18 3:02a by Ryan Rosenblatt – 0 comments
Chelsea Vs. Barcelona, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Blues Should Relish Underdog Role

Barcelona may not be leading their own league, but there are few out there who do not consider them the world’s best team. With Lionel Messi leading an impossibly deep attack and a defense that is as sturdy as there is when Carles Puyol is healthy, the Catalans are just one step below unbeatable, or so the theory goes.

With Barcelona healthy and on top of their game, nobody really believes that Chelsea can beat them over two legs in the UEFA Champions League. The Catalans are just too good and if anyone is going to beat them, it isn’t going to be England’s sixth place team that is only even in competition for a Champions League place next season thanks to some generous refereeing of late. It wouldn’t be tough to find people who say that Chelsea don’t have a chance and Barcelona should just go ahead and book their tickets to Munich for the final now. Graham MacAree from We Ain’t Got No History agrees that the Blues have only the slimmest of chances, but he kind of likes it that way.

Chelsea are going to have to play their two best games of the season if they want to beat Barcelona, and then then they’ll have to hope that they catch the Catalans on one of their bad days (they have some of those, it turns out). But that’s what makes this whole tie so special. There’s no downside here. There’s no shame in losing to Barcelona, who’ve won this thing twice in the last three seasons, and if we win… well, calling that a historical result would be a bit of an understatement.

Does Chelsea have a “historic result” in them? If they do, they better get it done at Stamford Bridge in the first leg because they’re not going to make up a deficit at the Camp Nou in the second leg. But even if they don’t it’s not like anybody expected any different.

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