Chelsea Must Dig Deep To Repel Barcelona

Ahead of Barcelona v Chelsea in the Champions League tomorrow night, we look at the importance of Petr Cech and the Chelsea defence in keeping out Barcelona and Lionel Messi.

Chelsea Must Dig Deep to Repel Barcelona

According to Castrol EDGE Performance analysis, Petr Cech could be the key if Chelsea are to spring a surprise and resist Barcelona’s attacking advances in next week’s Champions League semi-final second leg.

Many critics in recent weeks have suggested that the Blues ‘keeper is past his best, but Cech has answered them with some excellent performances in Europe this season and currently boasts the best saves-to-shots ratio in the 2011/12 Champions League (regular ‘keepers only).

Indeed, the Czech international has made 48 saves already in Europe this term (another competition-high), a remarkable 39 more than Barcelona number one Victor Valdes.

Best Saves to Shots Ratios – Champions League 2011/12 (min five games)

Player

Save Percentage

Saves

Cech, Petr

84.21

48

Neuer, Manuel

82.35

28

Mandanda, Steve

81.82

36

Zengin, Tolga

81.48

22

Lloris, Hugo

80

33

Valdés, Víctor

52.94

9

On the one occasion Cech was beaten in the first-leg, defender Ashley Cole was on hand to save his goalkeeper, in doing so taking the Blues’ tally of goal-line clearances in Europe to four, the most of all teams.

Most Clearances of the Line – Champions League 2011/12

Team Name

Clearances Off the Line

Chelsea

4

Apoel Nicosia

3

Arsenal

2

Shakhtar Donetsk

2

Trabzonspor

2

 

Stopping the likes of Messi and Xavi is going to be extremely tough for Roberto Di Matteo’s side next week, but the Blues have proven they have the fight and ability to dig deep and defend for their lives. If Cech can maintain his excellent form, the Pensioners are well capable of booking themselves a place in only their second Champions League showdown.

Barcelona Breaking Records Despite Stamford Bridge Blank

 Castrol EDGE Performance data shows that although Barcelona failed to find the net in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final at Chelsea last week, the Catalan giants are still well on the way to breaking a record in terms of most goals/game in a single Champions League campaign.

Barcelona have netted 33 goals in 11 games in Europe so far this term, giving them a ratio of exactly three goals per game, the joint-best record in the history of the competition (with Real Madrid this season).

Highest Goals/Game Ratios – Champions League History

Season

Team

Games Played

Goals

Goals/Game

Season 2011/2012

Barcelona

11

33

3

Season 2011/2012

Real Madrid

11

33

3

Season 2004/2005

Lyon

10

29

2.9

Season 1999/2000

Barcelona

16

45

2.81

Season 1998/1999

Manchester United

11

29

2.64

Pep Guardiola’s side are understandably spearheaded by Lionel Messi. The mercurial Argentine is yet to find the net in 565 minutes of Champions League football against Chelsea, but has already fired in 14 goals in Europe this season, another competition record.

 Most Goals in a Single Champions League Campaign

Season

Team

Player

Goals

Season 2011/2012

Barcelona

Messi, Lionel

14

Season 2002/2003

Manchester United

Van Nistelrooy, Ruud

12

Season 2010/2011

Barcelona

Messi, Lionel

12

Season 2011/2012

FC Bayern München

Gomez, Mario

12

 Barcelona may have been shut out at Stamford Bridge, but their record at home this season is impeccable. The Catalans have scored in 31 of their last 33 Champions League home games, though ironically the last team to stop them netting were Chelsea back in April 2009.

Barca enjoyed almost 80% of possession in their defeat in London, and if they are afforded that much of the ball at the Nou Camp, they certainly have the quality and firepower to blow Chelsea away.

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2 Comments

  1. sikas sabo 23 April, 2012
  2. victor chief 24 April, 2012