We went minute-by-minute for tonight’s unmissable Champions League semi. Could Barca turn their mini-slump around or would Chelsea hang on for a famous victory and a place in the Champions League final?
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Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea (2-3 agg)
19.22 – And so to the teams. Guardiola came in for a bit of bashing for his selection in Saturday night’s Clásico defeat to Real Madrid, but he’s named an equally unconventional side this evening — three at the back, a midfield diamond of four, and the familiar trident up front.
Dani Alves is the major omission. He drops to the bench while Pique, Cuenca, Sanchez and Fabregas all return to the starting line-up.
Barcelona: Valdes; Puyol, Mascherano, Pique; Cuenca, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta; Sanchez, Messi, Fabregas. Subs: Pinto, Alves, Thiago, Keita, Pedro, Adriano, Tello.
19.31 – Remember what happened the last time these two met in a Champions League semi? Referee Tom Henning Ovrebo does — as do the handful Chelsea nutters who apparently still send him death threats.
For everyone else, here’s a little reminder.
YouTube Credit: unknowuser10
Your referee tonight is Cuneyt Cakir of Turkey, just so you know who to abuse for the next two hours.
19.46 – Over on TheScore.ie’s Facebook page, you’ve been getting your pre-match predictions in. Here’s the early verdict:
19.55 – Alexis Sanchez may just have broken Gary Cahill. The striker twists and turns so much that Cahill is left flat on his backside holding his hamstring. The Barca fans aren’t too happy at the amount of time he’s down for, but it could be serious. Bosingwa is warming up on the touchline.
19.58 – Now I think Chelsea are taking the mick a bit, deliberately slowing the game to frustrate Barca. Cahill is visibly limping and the fourth official has the board up for the substitution when — hang on a sec, John Terry signals to the sideline to give Cahill two more minutes to see how he is.
He is the manager after all, so what he says goes.
20.09 – From the replays, it looks like Pique may actually have been knocked out cold on impact there but he’s ok to continue after a quick rub of the temples.
Barca march straight down the other end and should really have the game’s opening goal. The interplay on the edge of the Chelsea box is a thing of beauty as Sanchez passes to Messi who then plays a one-two with the inside of Cesc Fabregas’s heel. Messi’s clean through, one-on-one with Cech and you’re putting your house on him to score… but it’s saved by Cech’s outstretched leg and Iniesta’s follow-up is blocked by Terry.
21.45 – Petr Cech, speaking to Sky Sports:
We’ve done it, we scored the away goal and that was the key.
We fought 90 minutes in the first game, this game we were 2-0 down and down to 10 men, but we did what we could.
We tried to survive and survived pretty well.
22.04 – John Terry, speaking to Sky Sports:
Sanchez was darting in behind me. I’ve seen the replay, it does look bad on the replay. I’m not that type of player.
I’ve raised my knee, which maybe I shouldn’t have done, but I’m not that type of player.
Looking at it on the replay, it does look bad so no complaints.
It’s what this football club deserves.
The boys were absolutely excellent, I hope the incident doesn’t take anything away from that.