Job done in the Nou Camp, yet even before Chelsea's players had left the stadium they were promising that it would be a very different approach at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday for the second leg of their Champions League semi-final. "We will be going for the game big time from the off," said John Terry, which no one could accuse Chelsea of having done in Barcelona in the first leg on Tuesday.
Amid the back-slapping and plaudits for a 0-0 result and a stout defensive performance, the reality of what awaits Chelsea next week was also sinking in. It cannot have been a difficult decision for their manager, Guus Hiddink, to decide to sit deep and commit all resources to defence when his team faced Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto'o but when they come to London it will be a much finer balance to strike.
They cannot afford to change their approach altogether and attempt to spear Barcelona in the same way the Catalan side attempted to spear them. "Going for the game big time" is not an option against the best counter-attacking side in Europe, but at some point Chelsea will have to try to win, unless they are prepared to play for a penalty shoot-out. "We would be happier if we had scored, but we have 0-0 and now we have a great chance at home," the defender Michael Ballack said. "It will be a completely different game but another difficult 90 minutes, minimum."
The "minimum" was the clue that Hiddink's players are already prepared to have to take this game into extra time – an indication they will not exactly open up just because they have switched territory. It will provide another exacting examination of Hiddink's ability. He has shown he can set up a team to destroy the opposition's best intentions: can he now marshal Chelsea to show some of the attacking ambition of Barcelona?
Terry led the plaudits for Hiddink's forward planning and, while we have heard other Chelsea managers loyally praised by players, there was indisputable evidence of it on the pitch. "The manager was spot on, he did everything really well," Terry said. "Once he had spoken we knew exactly what to do and from the moment we went out there we stuck to it.
"We completely trust him, and we trust each other. The manager says he can say what he likes but it is down to us on the pitch. We are only half-way there but we showed that we don't fear anyone. They are a very good side, but we showed that we are as well."
There are decisions to be made in defence next week when Ashley Cole returns in place of Jose Bosingwa at left-back, with the Portuguese going back to right-back. It is a sign of changing times at Chelsea that Alex Da Costa will surely get the nod even if Ricardo Carvalho is fit again. Nicolas Anelka will also expect to play and his inclusion, or otherwise, will be a key indicator as to Hiddink's thinking.
"You have to use your brain when you play Barcelona," said Chelsea's Barcelona old boy Juliano Belletti. "But we always score goals especially at Stamford Bridge. It will be a very different game." As Chelsea know, stopping Barcelona is one thing, outscoring them is quite another.Reuse content