Respect but revulsion meets Chelsea display

Mork and Mindy man, Robin Williams, would have been more useful than Pep Guardiola in the Dream Boys’ dressing room on Tuesday night.What the perplexed players of the Camp Nou needed was a rousing, desk-standing, pecker-inspiring speech about following their dreams, making hay and seizing carp. And maybe a forceful argument insisting that ‘What Dreams May Come’ is an avant-garde, thoughtful study of guilt and death. And not a load of sentimentalist tosh. Instead, Messi’s mob may well have received a relentless rant over the lack of referee protection and how it wasn’t fair that they had to play against the most vulgar of sides whose tactics were “Cech-Drogba, Drogba-Cech” as Pep complained after the game.

"To me..."

In the first half of the Champions League encounter, it felt as if Barcelona were close to peeing their pants. Their normal fluid, flowing game was strained, passes were being misplaced and confidence was rock-bottom.

It was only in the final 30 minutes when the likes of Dani Alves and Andrés Iniesta pulled themselves together and went with the lip-stiffening did the side play anything like they have been all season. Indeed, if it hadn’t been for that pesky Bojan missing an absolute sitter in injury-time, Barça would have had some reward for their work. Instead it was the club’s first goalless draw of the season. Over 90 minutes, the Barcelona players crashed into more walls than a Guantanamo Bay prisoner. It was another classic Chelsea display of power and pragmatism and exactly why the club continues to win fans the world over.

Billions spent to produce the kind of performance that a replay-seeking second division side would put up against a top flight club in the FA Cup, as one person noted on a comments board that La Liga Loca read. However, Chelsea failed to grab an away goal with their one chance on goal and this leaves the Catalan press with hopes of a more successful game in Stamford Bridge next week. “We will go through!” says Sport’s headline. Inside, all their editorial pieces are respectful of Chelseah’s performance, but fairly scathing. “Anti-football won,” sighed Josep Casanovas. “It’s sad but Chelsea came not to play football but to not lose.”“We’ll win in London,” agreed his more feisty colleague Lluís Mascaró, “with the permission of the ref,” he quipped. It’s an opinion shared by the normally sober El País who complain that “the referee had more respect for the foreign intrusion than the local delicacy.”

"To you..."

Over in Marca-land, there has been as much coverage of the game as a mid-table clash featuring Mallorca. Which is about a page.

After all, if Florentino Pérez isn’t interested in the affair, then nor is Marca. Heaven knows what will happen if Spain’s King of Industry suddenly takes a shine to ‘Lost’.

Eight page pullouts on the programme, probably. AS half-pretended that the European clash was important to the paper - but only in its relation to Saturday’s Madrid match - with editor Alfredo Relaño writing that “Barcelona did the attacking, but lacked the flourish.”“The bad dream would have been completed had Jose Mourinho been in Hiddink’s place,” chuckled Fabian Ortiz. While there seems to be a sense of outrage in the English comment-o-sphere that Chelsea were a gutless, disgrace to the beautiful game, there is more understanding in Spain in response to the English side’s parking-the-bus business. However, while Chelsea may have won the advantage in the semi-final clash in Spain, they lost what few friends they had left in la Liga.

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