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FC Barcelona and Chelsea go head-to-head in the International Champions Cup on July 28. As is also the case for the Catalans, this will be the Londoners’ third game in the competition after beating Paris Saint Germain on penalties and losing 4-2 to the New York Red Bulls. The game has been one of the classic ties of European football in recent years, and in terms of wins, draws and losses in the fifteen competitive matches between them, the balance is absolutely equal: five wins each and five games tied.
Barça and Chelsea first met in 1966 in the semi-finals of the Fairs Cup. Both sides won their home legs 2-0, and things were decided in a tie-breaker at that Barça won 5-0 at the Camp Nou.
It was not until the year 2000 that they would meet again. Just as had happened 34 years earlier, the two legs finished with identical results, 3-1 wins for the home teams, but this time Barça scored twice in extra time at the Camp Nou to win 6-4 on aggregate.
The next meeting was in the second round of the Champions League in 2005. Barça beat Chelsea 2-1 at the Camp Nou, but Chelsea turned the tie around at Stamford Bridge to the tune of a 4-2 win, 5-4 on aggregate. Barça got their revenge a year later in the same round of the same competition. They won 2-2 at the Bridge and sealed qualification with a 1-1 draw in the second leg. They also met in the following season’s Champions League, but in the group stages. The Premiership side won their home fixture 1-0, and got a 2-2 draw at the Camp Nou. Both sides ended up progressing to the last 16.
By this stage, quite a rivalry had developed between the two teams, and the meeting in the UCL semis of 2009 was especially memorable. The game at the Camp Nou had ended 0-0. Chelsea were leading 1-0 in the second leg and heading for the final in Rome as the game went into its final minute. With practically the last kick of the game, Andrés Iniesta found the net and Barça went through by virtue of the away goals rule.
In 2012, the two teams met in the semi-finals once again. Chelsea won 1-0 in London. Although Barça bounced back to go 2-0 up at the Camp Nou, Chelsea eventually pulled back to 2-2 to make it into the final, where they beat Bayern Munich to win their first continental crown.
Fàbregas and Barça, united paths
Cesc Fàbregas, one of the biggest names in Jose Mourinho’s current squad, is of course somebody with very close ties to FC Barcelona. Born on the Catalan coast at Arenys de Mar, he was in the FCB academy for seven years until 2003, when he left for Arsenal, and returned for a second spell, this time in the first team, from 2012 to 2014.
He played in five games for Arsenal against Barça. The first was the 2006 Champions League Final, which the Catalans won 2-1 to claim the trophy for the second time. He was also involved in the 2010 meeting in the quarter finals, when Leo Messi scored his famous four goals to send Barça through, and again in the second round of the competition in 2011, with Barça victorious for the third time.
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