UK press hail Barça ahead of Stamford Bridge clash
The British press seem to have accepted Barça’s pre-eminence for quite a while now, and the overall feeling seems to make Guardiola’s team firm favourites to get through their semi final against Chelsea
The British press seem to have accepted Barça’s pre-eminence for quite a while now, and the overall feeling seems to make Guardiola’s team firm favourites to get through their semi final against Chelsea.
Ahead of Barça’s tie with the Londoners, the UK press have been analysing the Catalans’ unique style and success, with the focus very much on what Chelsea can possibly do to stop them making it through to their second final on the run.
“A democratic revolution”
In The Daily Telegraph, John Carlin and Michael Robinson trace the current Barça team’s development back to Rinus Michel and Johan Cruyff through Josep Guardiola and declare “Barça have signalled a democratic revolution in the sport. They have shown, through their success, that the qualities a football player requires to prosper are technical skill and intelligence on the ball. Size doesn’t matter; neither does the position of each player on the pitch. The striking thing about Guardiola’s team is that, while tactical discipline is strict, one is never sure exactly what position on the pitch at least three quarters of the players are supposed to occupy”.
Messi and Sanchez head the threat
Ex- Barça and Chelsea man Emmanuel Petit reckons Chelsea will be unable to cope with Lionel Messi and he comments in The Sun: “Nobody can control Messi, it’s impossible. He is a crazy guy”. BBC pundit Martin Keown writing in The Daily Mail meanwhile, believes: “Lionel Messi is the genius everyone watches but this season Barcelona have uncovered his perfect foil, Alexis Sanchez. He stalks the back four, running on the shoulder of the defensive line before darting into the box, pulling defenders out of the way and creating channels for Messi to run into. If defenders stay with Messi, Sanchez will punish you instead. When Arsenal beat Barcelona last season, they sent their central defenders after Messi and that created a problem for Barcelona. But now, with Sanchez, they have someone who will run into the space from where the defender has come. You just wouldn’t want to be playing against him”.
Drogba or Torres upfront for Chelsea?
Turning to just what Chelsea can do to stop Barça, ex- England captain Terry Butcher, writing in The Daily Mirror, recalls a classic song from The Clash to define Di Matteo’s task: “Should I stay or should I go? That’s the dilemma facing Roberto Di Matteo this Wednesday when Chelsea take on the best team in the world. Should the Blues stay in their own half and defend the edge of their box – or should they go on the attack and push men forward?”. Butcher believes: “the quick counter attack must be Chelsea’s main tactic over both matches, utilising the pace of Fernando Torres, but Chelsea cannot over commit. Barcelona can and will adapt their style of play, but patience and persistence have to be the key factors for the home side”.
In contrast with Butcher’s support for Torres, James Olley in The London Evening Standard concludes that Didier Drogba’s man of the match performance against Spurs at the weekend means: “another one of his force-of-nature displays has surely ended all argument about who will start and given Pep Guardiola a genuine source of discomfort as he boards the plane to London. His ability to provide an effective outlet will be vital in relieving the pressure Barcelona will no doubt create on Chelsea’s rearguard. Drogba also represents a more viable option for reliability in front of goal than Torres, who is improving but there is no doubt who Barcelona would rather face”.