After last week's Champion's league snoozer er, match, between Chelsea and the goal studded Barca team, there have been catcalls and cries of "negative football" coming from all ends of the Earth, such as the one here at Soccerlens. Look, I know the game at the Nou Camp wasn't the pretty, attractive attacking football we have grown to see from Barcelona. But hats off to Chelsea for doing what Bayern Munich couldn't do, hold Henry, Messi and Eto'o scoreless. Between those three Barca strikers and a little help from their friends, Barca has scored 100 goals in La Liga, dropped 12 on German powerhouse (well normally) Bayern. But while goals are great, if you hold your opponent to a clean sheet, the worst you are going to do is tie.
I am no Chelsea fan (far from it), but after watching a History Channel program on Sun Tzu, I have to remind people, that a good defense is just a important as a great attack. There are not many teams in football that can go goal for goal with the Catalans and they shouldn't try. If teams try to play Barca football and outscore Barcelona, they will get trounced--see Real Madrid this past weekend. Playing defensive is usually not a good recipe for winning a one-off game, but the Champions League is a two legged affair, and teams have to play with that in mind. Guus Hiddink's tactics were smart and dead on. If Chelsea hadn't proceeded with a defend first attitude at the Nou Camp, they could have emerged from their road trip to see themselves down several goals and that would have been disasterous (although it would have been interesting to see if Pep Guardiola's men could play a defensive set at Stamford Bridge).
Chelsea are in a hole on Wednesday, having to face a Barca team that is flying high. Chelsea have to attack and have to win clear. A score draw means Barca advance on the away goal rule. A scoreless draw means penalties and that is just a massive crapshoot (see Champion's League final from last year). Like it or not, "negative football" sometimes wins two legged ties, and even championships. I don't think Chelsea can pull this tie out, but I don't begrudge them their attempt.