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2 hours ago, Holymoly said:

I'm not the greatest fan of Courtois but I thought he had a reasonable game and actually commanded his area more than I've seen him, even his distribution was mostly error free.

Sorry - a careless joke - I just meant that Courtois could hardly be praised for a game he had so little to do in.  

 

2 hours ago, Holymoly said:

I've never been one to slate Willian the way others have around here. Like his chums Hazard and Pedro they all have periods where they become a bit invisible, it's the nature of our system. Last night, while Pedro may not have been that apparent in attack he was putting in a shift in midfield.

I said a few times around October/November that Willian just looked unwell.  At least unwell by his standard super Readybrek advert glowing with health norms.   Still doesn't look 100% but quite a bit better all the same.

I think the workload of a modern AM is often ignored by many.  There is a reason why you put your best players there and make lesser players WBs.  Why they get paid so much yet played in rotation.  Why there careers are so short.  Why the best teams have 3 or 4 o 5 players in those roles.  (And perhaps why Barca are fading as Messi and Iniesta no longer contribute the ferocious way without the ball as they did).

2 hours ago, Holymoly said:

What impressed me most last night was the way we varied the press. It was almost as if Conte occasionally pressed a button and we moved from lying with two banks sitting in front of the penalty area to pressing them in their own half. You could tell it was unsettling Barcelona. Whether or not we can play the same hand in a fortnight and be successful remains to be seen. I would prefer to see a striker on the pitch to provide an out ball when we're under the cosh and for that reason probably Giroud.

Yes.  I'd love to have seen that ultra high press on their box for more than 15-20 mins.  The whole game would have been perfect.  Might have killed the players though.

 

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SS_89   

I think we were very intelligent in how we pressed, as much as an ultra high press all the time would be great its not sustainable. I think the way we pressed allowed us to do it all game compared to 60-70 mins after which barca would probably run riot. We are barcas bogey team, as much as they may have beaten us I can't remember any other team giving them this much trouble consistently over the last 14 years and I love it!

2nd leg is a tall order but just shows that the team when performing is more than capable of challenging the top european teams.

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xCELERYx   

Only just managed to catch the game.

Thought we were excellent for the most part. We adhered to instructions, pressed when needed, looked solid defensively and broke with purpose and commitment with getting players forward. That said, I posted earlier on stating how we needed to play a faultless game defensively and take our chances going forward - and we were so close to doing that. Willian was excellent, but can't help but also feel a little frustrated that he wasn't more calculated with the ball in counter attacking situations. On another night, he could have had a hat-trick and two assists. While defensively, it only took one mistake and that's what happens against a side like Barcelona. Terrible ball across the box in a dangerous area, then Azpilicueta really had to win that challenge if we was going to commit like that. It wasn't to be, and of course it had to be one of the players I absolutely detest the most who scored.

Annoying to give up an away goal, but 1-1 against such a quality side still puts us in a winnable position going into the away leg. Once again though, we're going to need a faultless 90+ minutes of play. While making sure we take any and all chances that come our way.

Would have liked Conte using his substitutes a little earlier, but can also understand not wanting to disrupt our shape too much with those who were playing well. Would have preferred Giroud to Morata though coming on, possibly seeing both at the end. Not to be though.

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2 hours ago, xCELERYx said:

We adhered to instructions,

:)  All praise to the master blueprint maker, not the players.  

 

2 hours ago, xCELERYx said:

Terrible ball across the box in a dangerous area, then Azpilicueta really had to win that challenge if we was going to commit like that.

and in response to the several others that have made this claim.
I think Azpi has no chance of winning this.  And once half out, Iniesta is going to go around him with one touch whatever happens.  Then shoot at an open goal.
By charging Azpi forced Iniesta to stab at the ball and take it wide.  Which mean Iniesta couldn't score directly (main job done) and that for all Azpi knew a cross into the box would get picked up by another player.  
A defender's job in that situation is to stop his man from scoring - full stop.  Stopped a goal, conceded a cross, no one else picked up Messi (whose early run into space was inspired).

On Christensen - that was his 2nd dreadful ball across our box, there was one fist half as well.  2nd so far this season though.

I think the game showed that the famed passing defences of Chelsea and Barcelona are not nearly as good as their reputation when it comes to top class AMs as part of a team willing to chase them down.

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9 minutes ago, Droy was my hero said:

:)  All praise to the master blueprint maker, not the players.  

 

and in response to the several others that have made this claim.
I think Azpi has no chance of winning this.  And once half out, Iniesta is going to go around him with one touch whatever happens.  Then shoot at an open goal.
By charging Azpi forced Iniesta to stab at the ball and take it wide.  Which mean Iniesta couldn't score directly (main job done) and that for all Azpi knew a cross into the box would get picked up by another player.  
A defender's job in that situation is to stop his man from scoring - full stop.  Stopped a goal, conceded a cross, no one else picked up Messi (whose early run into space was inspired).

On Christensen - that was his 2nd dreadful ball across our box, there was one fist half as well.  2nd so far this season though.

I think the game showed that the famed passing defences of Chelsea and Barcelona are not nearly as good as their reputation when it comes to top class AMs as part of a team willing to chase them down.

And don't forget that in between Christensen and Azpilicueta there was another player who , could / should have maybe got to the ball first if only his hairy little legs worked as fast as Kante's.  I'm wondering why you have ignored his role in the goal ? Doesn't fit the narrative I suspect ;-) ,( I'ts only meant in jest he worked his socks off all night )

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bert19   
11 minutes ago, Mark Kelly said:

And don't forget that in between Christensen and Azpilicueta there was another player who , could / should have maybe got to the ball first if only his hairy little legs worked as fast as Kante's.  I'm wondering why you have ignored his role in the goal ? Doesn't fit the narrative I suspect ;-) ,( I'ts only meant in jest he worked his socks off all night )

In fairness, he did play well last night and not really by doing any of the things he's consistently celebrated for.  First time in ages I've seen him play and viewed his contribution as more than that of a complete luxury player.  

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20 minutes ago, Mark Kelly said:

And don't forget that in between Christensen and Azpilicueta there was another player who , could / should have maybe got to the ball first if only his hairy little legs worked as fast as Kante's.  I'm wondering why you have ignored his role in the goal ? Doesn't fit the narrative I suspect ;-) ,( I'ts only meant in jest he worked his socks off all night )

2 or 3 players if I recall :).  But yes he didn't forsee the play developing as quickly as Messi who made his move v early, and he lacks some of Messi's pace!  Sadly Barca don't seem to have fed Fabregas with HGH at 13. 

12 minutes ago, bert19 said:

In fairness, he did play well last night and not really by doing any of the things he's consistently celebrated for.  First time in ages I've seen him play and viewed his contribution as more than that of a complete luxury player.  

Yes.  In any battle there is a front line of infantry that you commit and might get slaughtered and a reserve used in emergencies.  In any football situation a player needs to decide whether to gamble and try and win the ball or to play safe and back off.  Fabregas invariably commits.  Part nature, part natural skillset (= no pace) part his role in the team and the cover behind him.  But it doesn't fit the way some viewers think of what a midfielder should do.

(Of course only the likes of Kante can get close enough to an opponent to pressurise and be cover the same time - which is why he is so unique.  Mortals have to chose.)

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Superb performance more or less all round. Willian was something special, not sure how some have ever doubted him. Fabregas once again proved the myth about him not being able to play in a two man midfield is just that, a myth. The high press was exactly what we needed to do, no team can cope with it. Watching Kante press so high up was excellent and must have scared them to death. It's a shame we couldn't do it for a longer period but when the players are so used to not pressing at all it's hardly surprising.

It finally looks like the awful 532 has been forgotten about and from now on getting as many of our best players in the same team has to be the way forward. 

I'm not too bothered about their goal, I always thought we would have to score twice at their place so we are going there needing exactly what I thought we would before the game. It won't be easy but if we perform like that again then I think we have a very good chance. I actually think it might do us a favour, them  it needing to chase the game and us knowingbwe have to score.

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jones   

Big shame about their goal. They did not deserve it, neither did Christensen. But that is part of the game, he will come back stronger. Fantastic performance from the team, even with this unfortunate result it gives us the confidence we need to go down there and produce a little miracle.

Thought Barca got lucky with the ref. Rakitic close to a second yellow twice, two offences worse than the one that got Bakayoko sent off against Watford. Also, Umtiti on Hazard is a 50/50 pen. You could also argue Suarez rolling around on the ground like his leg was broken while on a yellow is worthy of a second for unsporting behaviour, but I guess refs never give those. Anwyay, every important 50/50 decision went in their favour, and their only chance - and goal - came from a defensive error. Spanish media for once spot on calling that result a miracle. They will be fearful before they face us again in three weeks, can potentially be another classic. Even if the odds are against us, it is the games like these we live for.

KTBFFH!

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45 minutes ago, Martin1905 said:

I'm not too bothered about their goal, I always thought we would have to score twice at their place so we are going there needing exactly what I thought we would before the game. It won't be easy but if we perform like that again then I think we have a very good chance. I actually think it might do us a favour, them  it needing to chase the game and us knowingbwe have to score.

Yes.  Best thing we can do whatever the score is press them in their own half.  They'll absolutely hate that in front of their own crowd.  But it is the way teams have beaten us this season.

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