Barcelona possesses one of the most formidable football teams ever put together. This team has won every cup available to win in the last four years, including the holy grail of club football, the Champions League – twice. They decimate teams on a regular basis with the use of the best striker in the world, Lionel Messi, who may very well, when all is said and done, be considered the greatest that ever played the game. They are stacked in every position on the field, and every player in the world dreams of playing for them. They are famous for a possession style of play in which they slowly break down the opposing team’s defense, patiently looking for cracks in their armor. During league play this year, they have averaged a stunning 73.4% possession per game. In the Champions League tournament this year, they have averaged 74.3% possession.
So is it possible to beat quite possibly the single greatest team of football players in the history of club football? Yes, it is. Chelsea proved it over the first leg in the Champions League semi-final this year. Chelsea used the same game plan it had used in 2009, in which they tied the first leg then lost the second leg in an extremely controversial fashion. The game plan involved a collaborative and disciplined defense. Basically, keep Barcelona from scoring. Now they must play the same way at the Camp Nou for the second leg in order to have any hope of advancing to the final. Can they actually succeed this time where they failed three years ago? Absolutely. Chelsea’s one time manager, Jose Mourinho, applied the same tactics to his Inter Milan team when they played Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals two years ago. And they won. The first game was a major upset in which Inter managed to score three goals to Barcelona’s one. The second leg at the Camp Nou was a master class in team defense. Down to ten men, Inter managed to hold off wave after wave of attacks. They lost the game, but they advanced to the final on goal differential.
If Chelsea can remain disciplined in their defense and take what few chances will come to them in attack, they will advance to the final. Barcelona may be the greatest club football team ever put together, but they are not unbeatable.