1. It’s imperative today that Barca use their left flank efficiently.

    One of the best match ups they can take advantage of is dragging Ivanovic into space wide. Ivanovic is an able defender – but he’s really a CB who has been shifted wide. He’s often uncomfortable being taken into space. He has limited pace and if Barca can drag him wide he’s a player who can be beaten off the dribble.

    In addition, opening up a channel gap between Ivanovic and Terry will be profitable as both have difficulty covering space due to their pace.

    Chelsea will look to sit deep in two banks of four. They are still trying to adapt to this defensive system however and their spacing relative to each other in their block isn’t optimally synchronized.

    Movement and rapid ball circulation will given them difficulty. However Barca can’t just try to force all of the action through the middle.

    Making the pitch small against a team with poor pace is simply doing them a favor. If Barca can stretch the field they’ll give Chelsea problems. But because Chelsea will play deep the pitch isn’t going to get stretched vertically. Barca will have to stretch it horizontally.

    Defensively much of the focus is on Barca containing Drogba. And his power, even with diminished skills, is a real issue. That said, Chelsea are going to play on the break and the player who worries me is Ramires because there isn’t a good match up for him in Barca’s base system.

    If Ramires is on the right wing Chelsea can try to overload the pitch on the break. This will put pressure on Iniesta to make sure that he can get back to defend. If Ramires is on the right he’ll try to get behind Alves.

    He has such a non-stop motor that as the match gets later he’ll build up more of an advantage unless Barca’s possession game just takes his legs.

    Conversely for Barca I really don’t see a strong fit for playing Cesc today. The team needs width – Chelsea will cede possession. I can see Keita playing to provide additional cover on the counter. But I’m not sure if Pep can afford to play Cesc.

    Remember – these ties are 180 minute matches. Pep is going to make sure the team doesn’t lose the tie in the away leg like they did at the San Siro in 2010.

  2. Team announced:

    Alves Puyol Masch Adriano
    Xavi Busquets Cesc
    Alexis Messi Iniesta

    Afellay’s strip was seen in the dressing room, so maybe he’s on the bench!

    1. Nope, in the stands. He needs some minutes in a league game before Pep would give him bench space over Montoya.

    2. Huh – maybe they put all the strips out in the dressing room to confuse the opposition then!

  3. I just got home from getting smacked with a hundred-buck traffic-trap ticket and now I am in a good mood.

    Ah, Sylvinho, you grey fox, how I miss you. “About now would be a good time to sub me in, Míster.”

    I have been explicitly prohibited from watching the match without the h. present (so I don’t give away the score) so I don’t know if I can join you all at the Loveblob today.


    1. Mine has given up on me. So our compromise is that I watch it live on the little computer screen, he now follows it on a gamecast at work, and then we’ll watch it together DVRed on the better TV later.

  4. Anyone know of good commentary that can be streamed during the match? The FSC guys drive me crazy, and I’d rather not watch the match on mute.

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