Champions League Semi Final – First Leg
2 - 1
Chelsea versus Barcelona has always been tight affairs with there not being much been between the two teams and this encounter was no different. Chelsea could not have asked for a better start with Branislav Ivanovic, who has been rested in recent games by Dennis Wise, met a floated Andre Ayew corner and headed past Valdes in the Barcelona goal. This early appeared to settle the obvious nerves in the Chelsea side and a few of them, including Wise, could not quite believe their luck to have got a goal so early in the tie.
What then happened was a disgrace to the sport with five players all being booked for rash tackles before the end of the first half. It seemed like to the spectators that Barcelona were out to kick Chelsea off the pitch with their players receiving four of the five yellow cards. A moment of stupidity from Andre Ayew three minutes into the second half saw him receive his second yellow card and be sent to the dressing room. This meant that Chelsea had to face the majority of the second half with 10 men, which is no mean feat against FC Barcelona.
Radamel Falcao has not had the best of starts to his Chelsea career with him having being injured within days of signing for the club. When he has been given game time he has seemed to be lacking match fitness, which has not allowed him to make the mark on the game that he is capable of doing. Hence the Chelsea fans surprise when Dennis Wise decided to start with Falcao instead of the superb Lewandowski. However, as Wise has done so many times already this season, he showed why they should never have doubted him. Eight minutes into the second half, despite being down to ten men, Falcao scored a sublime goal; he ran through onto a pass from Oscar and he lobbed the ball over Valdes. Falcao has expressed his gratitude to Wise for having faith in him and he hopes he can use this as a catalyst to really kick start his Chelsea career.
Worryingly for Chelsea, Alexis Sanchez managed to grab a goal in the fourth minute of extra time which provided the Spanish side with the precious away goal. Dennis Wise has been quick to remind the media, fans and Barcelona that his side have not conceded more than seven goals in this season Premier League. He suggested that Chelsea possessed one of the best defences in the world and that the away goal would count for nothing.
Champions League Semi Final – Second Leg
0 – 0
The Nou Camp is an extremely hard place for any team to travel to and come away with a positive result. Chelsea headed into the game knowing that despite having won the first leg that Barcelona had an advantage in terms of the single away goal. This meant that Wise’s decision to set his team out in a defensive 4-5-1 formation did not surprise anyone. What did surprise fans though was his decision not to let Falcao start and try and build on his solid performance against them in the first leg. Instead Wise went for Lewandowski to start as the lone front man as the rest of the players had been given defensive duties to fulfil.
Fortunately for Chelsea this apparent ability to create a brick wall in front of their goal paid off for the Chelsea side. Despite having thirteen shots on goal, Barcelona could not get past the Chelsea goalkeeper, Cech, who was outstanding in goal. Chelsea simply sat back, let them have the ball (which is evident in the fact Barcelona came away with 61% of possession come full time) and just stepped into make challenges when needed.
Dennis Wise has had praise heaped on him for his tactical awareness and his ability to react to different scenarios. Wise has expressed his delight at stopping the Barcelona attack, which meant they would progress to successive Champions League finals. He said the team would go into the final confident of retaining their trophy and winning it for the second time in the club’s history.