Good evening. The margins of success and failure at the highest level of football are so infinitesimal that sometimes analysis can be rendered utterly pointless, and perhaps no two teams demonstrate this more pertinently than Barcelona and Chelsea. Their recent history has been characterised by little moments that could have sent both spiralling off into entirely different directions, minor details that have had a major impact on more than one occasion. When Chelsea beat Barcelona in 2005, it went unnoticed by the referee that Ricardo Carvalho had fouled Victor Valdes when John Terry scored the late winner. No winner, no ghost goal at Anfield and quite possibly no Miracle of Istanbul.
In the 2009 semi-final, Tom Henning Ovrebo's farcical refereeing would have been a mere footnote if Michael Essien had booted the ball clear in injury time and not swung a tired leg at it instead, allowing Lionel Messi to set up Andres Iniesta's improbable equaliser. One simple clearance at the end of a titanic performance from Chelsea, and Pep Guardiola would not have won the Champions League in his first season as a manager. Even then, the final against Manchester United could have been so different but for Gerard Pique's superb early tackle on Park Ji-Sung.
The list goes on. Avram Grant would be in the company of Bob Paisley, Jose Mourinho, Brian Clough and countless others if Terry's penalty in the Moscow rain had been an inch or two to the left. In 2010, Mourinho would not have become the third manager to win the European Cup if Bojan's last-minute goal for Barcelona in their semi-final against Inter had not been disallowed for a dubious handball by Yaya Toure. Or what turned out to be the decisive goal from Diego Milito in the first leg had been flagged for offside, as it should have been. In that scenario, Barcelona would have been the first team to retain the Champions League since Milan in 1990; there is no doubt they would have eviscerated a Bayern Munich side that was not a patch on this year's version.
No one would have been hailing a defensive masterclass from Chelsea last week if Barcelona had taken just one of their glaring opportunities. Then the talk would have been about how Barcelona had unscrewed the wheels on Chelsea's parked bus and left a load of cardboard boxes in their place; how they had paid for being so defensive, so anti-football. But they didn't, so instead the plan can be judged to have worked to perfection: soak up the Barcelona pressure, deny them space, let them have the ball in relatively harmless areas and then pounce with the speed and venom of a rattlesnake when the opportunity of a counter-attack presented itself, which is precisely what Frank Lampard and Ramires managed when creating Didier Drogba's goal.
It means Chelsea harbour genuine hope of reaching their first Champions League final since 2008, especially against a Barcelona side reeling from defeat in The El Clasico to Real Madrid, meaning they have now lost two successive games for the first time since May 2009. The dilemma for Chelsea is whether to stick or twist; whether to hold what they have or go for the jugular, prey on Barcelona's nerves and see if they crumble. As Don Draper says, live like there's no tomorrow, because there isn't one. Either approach has its drawbacks: it's hardly wise to simply let Barcelona take a stranglehold on a match, even if sometimes there's no choice, but equally playing an open game at the Nou Camp is, in the legal profession, defined as asking for it. After all, they don't need to win. They just need an acceptable defeat.
There will certainly be an air of apprehension around the Nou Camp tonight, not least when Chelsea go forward. Barcelona have never been as bad in a big game as they were against Real Madrid on the weekend. Flat and uninspired, Guardiola got his team selection and tactics badly wrong, the Christian Tello experiment not going to plan and the 3-4-3 formation leaving them exposed in defence and Lionel Messi outnumbered by white shirts in attack. During his time at Chelsea, Claudio Ranieri's Tinkerman nickname was not a compliment, it was merely a comment on his propensity for fiddling with no good reason. Guardiola has ever-so-slightly strayed away from what has made Barcelona so brilliant now, and there are certainly questions to be asked about how Busquets-Iniesta-Xavi triumvirate has been disrupted by Cesc Fabregas. Injuries to key players at key times have not helped either and Eric Abidal and David Villa are sorely missed. The legacy of this side cannot be tarnished, but for the first real time under Guardiola, they are under threat. Their standards have been so stratospheric that maybe it's just a shock to the system to realise they are human after all.
Those stats though. For all the talk of this team being in crisis, the end of an era, great teams only lasting in three-year cycles, it should not be forgotten how much they have achieved. If anyone has earned the benefit of the doubt, if any side isn't deserving of all the people shrugging their shoulders like Larry David and going "ehhh", it is this Barcelona. Already this season they have won three trophies and could yet make it five out of six if they win the Champions League and Copa del Rey. They have only ever lost two games in a row under Guardiola twice. Only three times have they gone three games or more without a win. Barcelona have not lose three games in a row since 2003. Lionel Messi has scored 63 goals this season. It's that word again. The small one with the big meaning. If Barcelona play to their best, they will win and they will go through. This is the grim reality for Chelsea: unless we really are witnessing the last days of the empire, they remain massive underdogs tonight.
Team news: Guardiola has not been able to resist the temptation to tinker again and has altered his line-up again, although he is still using a 3-4-3 formation despite Real Madrid exposing its weaknesses on the wing on the weekend. However it's a 3-4-3 without Dani Alves marauding up and down the right flank. The hyperactive Brazilian is on the bench. Christian Tello, Adriano and Thiago are also removed and in come Gerard Pique, Cesc Fabregas, Isaac Cuenca and Alexis Sanchez. Chelsea are unchanged from the first leg. You won't be surprised to hear that Didier Drogba has recovered from his knee injury.
Barcelona: Valdes; Puyol, Mascherano, Pique; Cuenca, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta; Sanchez, Messi, Fabregas. Subs: Pinto, Alves, Thiago, Keita, Pedro, Adriano, Tello.
Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic Cahill Terry Cole; Mata, Meireles, Mikel Lampard, Ramires; Drogba. Subs: Turnbull, Bosingwa, Essien, Malouda, Torres, Kalou, Sturridge.
Blamed in the papers tomorrow: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey).
"What a list," says Patrick Darcy. "All your own work, or a team of expensive Guardian researchers? If all your own work, doodling them all down from a mighty footballing memory,then my dear Jacob, RESPECT!" It's not for nothing that The Guardian is two-time Opta Football quiz champions.
"Looking forward to tonight's action, and your Fiver today was v. amusing. Between its mention of Ron Burgandy, and the build-up's invocations of Larry David and Don Draper, this surely must be one of the most role-model heavy days on the guardian sportsdesk for ages!" exclaims Ryan Dunne. "(I wonder if footballers, being supposed role models, do themselves have role models, or if they're more punk-y kill your heroes types, or alternatively agree with Kanye West's (in his case justified) egotism of 'I inspire me'."
"Knowing the high standards I must reach to get my comment posted, and being as capable of writing something witty, as Busquets is capable of staying on his feet the entire match, I'll just make a prediction,: says Adeniyi Ajiboye. "2-2, Chelsea go through, and Fabregas accuses Chelsea of anti football."
"I'm not usually too fond of Chelsea, but having written a very challenging patent law exam earlier today, I feel a great deal of empathy for ELBJT and co," says Prateek Chadha. "A searching examination coupled with a very high probability of getting schooled is never fun- and from my experience I can say for sure that win or lose, this will be a long painful night for Chelsea."
There are several players one booking away from missing the final: For Barcelona, they are Javier Mascherano and Carles Puyol and for Chelsea they are Ashley Cole, Branislav Ivanovic, Ramires and Raul Meireles. But I'm sure that will be the last thing on any of their minds tonight.
"It just looks like a collection of players Guardiola has picked tonight rather than any system," says Gary Neville. The 4-3-3 of last season, with Pedro and David Villa wide, gave them much more balance. "No need for Chelsea to worry now," says Mark Hammond. "Pep's fudged his formation again. Immobile full backs, overcrowded midfield and Iniesta forced wide on the left. Why has he abandoned the 4-3-3 that has won him so much? Surely not just to accommodate Fabregas who is looking ever more an Arsenal reject than a prodigal son." Cesc Fabregas is their Juan Sebastien Veron - a world-class player, but he's compromised Iniesta and the rest of the midfield.
The more I see Drogba's goal last week, the more I think Victor Valdes should have saved it. He didn't cover himself in glory against Real either. Anyway, Christopher Burke, presumably not the Birmingham City winger, has written in. "Drogba's performance, in every sense of the word, at the Bridge last week could not have gone unnoticed by tonight's referee, Mr. Cakir," he says. "I think there might be times tonight when Barca's defenders can get away with murder on him and it will go uncalled, a la Ovrebo in 2009, simply because the referee will have grown suspicious any time Drogba is on the floor, with good reason. On the other hand, I expect Barca, much more than in the first leg, to exaggerate contact and pressure for cards and send-offs, because in the rare instances that they've been backed into a corner--Inter in 2010, Arsenal last year, the Spanish team in the World Cup final--they've resorted to that strategy quite comfortably, and it's not a bad one, especially at home. I'm confident that the referee can do a fine job with tonight's match, but there's absolutely no way that things can run smoothly and he can remain invisible."
We're routinely told that the Nou Camp pitch is bigger than Chelsea's. Word is, they're exactly the same though, due to Uefa regulations. But it certainly looks bigger to me. So what's the reason? Is it just an illusion created by Stamford Bridge being a much tighter stadium than Barcelona's? "Regarding Adeniyi Ajiboye's comment, emails to the MBM need to be of a high standard to be published?" says Phil Sawyer. "That's my chances buggered from now on, then. When did the rules change? Has anyone broken the news to Millings? In other news, I find myself in the unlikely position of rooting for Chelsea, simply because Di Matteo seems like such a lovely bloke." I make it a general rule never to publish Millings.
Cesc Fabregas is Juan Veron. Or is he? Yes, yes he is. But Ryan Dunne thinks otherwise. "Surely the point of Veron was that his inclusion lead to the (albeit temporary) unnecessary squandering of Paul Scholes? If Villa was fit Fabregas might well be on the bench but, based on the available players, rejigging the formation to include him is hardly that crazy a decision (haven't journos, not entirely unseriously, been saying that Barcelona's formation is essentially a liquid 4-6-0 for years anyway?)"
Well David Villa was starting on the bench around the time he broke his leg. The front three at the Bernabeu in December was Fabregas-Messi-Sanchez, and Fabregas and Sanchez both scored. Just as much of a problem has been Pedro's injuries and lost of form. He's a very underrated, effective player and they've missed his ice-cool finishing.
It's the camera angle apparently. "It's the camera angle at the Camp Nou that makes the pitch look so big," says Andrew Fletcher. It's higher up the stand than at Stamford Bridge, which is why the pitch at Chelsea always looks more cramped." That's a possibility. For example, compare and contrast camera angles at Upton Park.
This Mars advert. This contemptible Mars advert. You all know which one I'm talking about. Why don't England have a substitute goalkeeper?
The Nou Camp, as you'd expect, is bouncing. They've takena leaf out of Chelsea's book and the home fans are all waving plastic flags. The teams are in the tunnel, Chelsea all in white, Barcelona in their traditional Qatar Foundation blue and red.
And out they come. Chelsea are 90 minutes away from reaching the Champions League final. How are your nerves? "Are UEFA regulations different than the regulations for FIFA international matches?" asks Marc Howlett. "I thought that for international matches pitches could vary somewhat." I'm not sure, I'm going on what the important people on Twitter have been saying this evening.
That was the Champions League anthem. As usual, no player bothers to sing along. A disgrace. The Chelsea team is whistled as the names are read out over the tannoy. "The Barca pitch just looks bigger because a prone Drogba always looks smaller while lying on it in Chelsea's black away kit, which tends to have a slimming effect," says Justin Kavanagh, who hasn't noticed Chelsea are all in white.
Operation blame the foreign ref begins: Alan Parry has just noted that the Turkish referee is "inexperienced".
Peep! Off we go, Chelsea getting us underway and defending from right to left. Immediately Chelsea highlight the space down the Barcelona flanks. Cole and Ramires combine excellently on the left, and the former very nearly gets the Brazilian clean through on goal, but the pass is overhit and Valdes is out to smother. Chelsea will need plenty more of that.
2 min: And now Barcelona have the ball. The pattern is set. Xavi dinks a pass over the Chelsea defence. Terry, facing his own goal, lunges at the ball but can't get there. Fortunately it skips off the surface and away from Sanchez, allowing Cech to catch it.
3 min: The first let-off of Chelsea. Their defence is cut to ribbons by a beautiful combination from Iniesta and Messi. Suddenly the little Argentinian is all alone on the right side of the Chelsea area, but with a clear sight of goal, astonishingly he clips his shot past Cech and the right post, the ball flying into the side-netting. Barcelona have continued from where they left off at the Bridge.
5 min: Meireles, inside his own half, tries to spray a pass out to Mata, but it drifts out for a throw to Barcelona. Chelsea simply cannot afford to be so slack in possession. "Is compromising Iniesta for a season or so worth the sacrifice?" asks Alex Netherton. "Like Ronaldo's last season as, basically, a right winger to prepare United for his exit?" It's never worth compromising Iniesta.
6 min: Barcelona are in the mood. And when Barcelona are in the mood, be afraid. This time Barcelona scampers in behind the Chelsea defence, inside the area. He has to cut back, unable to shoot, and eventually his attempted cross is deflected up for Cech to claim easily.
7 min: This is a huge worry for Chelsea. When he tried to tackle Sanchez there, Cahill's leg went from under him and he seemed to pull a muscle. He's off receiving treatment and Chelsea are momentarily down to 10 men. It doesn't look like he will be able to continue. Jose Bosingwa is getting ready to come on.
9 min: It's now all Barcelona. Bosingwa is definitely going to come on for Cahill, who has at least returned to the action for now. It will mean Ivanovic moving into the middle. "We're a few minutes in and there's still been no email from Naylor and no mention of tiki-taki," honks Guy Hornsby. "How on earth am I going to win the MBM bingo if this continues? Given that I'm trying to actually do some work while this whole thing is going on I'm not sure how successful I'll be before I cave in and *cough* go down the pub. I figure it'll be 1-1 at 60 minutes before an aging Chelsea get cut to shreds 4-1. Put your bets on now."
10 min: Confusion as play is stopped to allow Bosingwa to come on, but Cahill is insistent that he can play on. We'll see how long that lasts. As it stands, Chelsea need to make the change, because Barcelona are running rings round them. Messi releases Iniesta on the left. He gets to the byline and hangs a cross over Cech, forcing Cole to clear more or less on his own line with Sanchez lurking behind him. Chelsea have barely been out of their own half.
12 min: How can Chelsea play like this for 90 minutes? They are far too deep and eventually Barcelona will find a way through. Now they'll be able to try their luck against a rejigged defence, Gary Cahill finally accepting the inevitable and trotting off to be replaced by Jose Bosingwa.
"I only just realised that Raul Meireles and Ramires are two separate players," says Rob Emmins. "Is that weird or just symptomatic of how uninteresting Chelsea are these days?" That's quite weird.
13 min: Barcelona are camped outside Chelsea's area. "So you can honestly say you know the words?" says Ben Mackley of the Champions League anthem. "Well done if you can but it's not like the national anthem for these teams, I don't think they should need to know it." No flies on you, Ben.
15 min: There are just 75 more minutes for Chelsea to hold on. Easy.
16 min: Cech launches a massive kick over the Barcelona defence, giving Drogba something to chase at last. Puyol is caught underneath the ball and as it soars into the area, Valdes races off his line to punch the ball away and flatten both Pique and Drogba in the process. Pique hit his head on the turf as he landed and he's come out of it worse than Drogba, who does have an excuse to go down this time. It's slightly callous, but the stoppages suit Chelsea; the game has become a tad bitty in the last few minutes.
18 min: Pique is up again, gingerly holding the back of his neck. "If Chelsea can just manage what they've done so far tonight, another five times, they'll make it," says Brad McMillan. "There, sounds easy when put like that."
19 min: What a save from Cech! This was a superb move from Barcelona. It looked like they were going nowhere on the edge of the area. Wrong. With his back to goal, Fabregas received a pass from Messi and he instantly flicked a wonderful backheel through to Messi, the Chelsea defence left completely bewildered. Through on goal, he drove it straight at Cech, who saved with his feet. He should have been given no chance. The rebound came back to Iniesta, whose half-hearted effort was blocked by Terry. Messi should already have two goals. Will it be one of those nights?
20 min: Maybe, you know. Cuenca, quiet thus far, jinks in from the right and then chips a clever pass into the area for Fabregas, whose first-time volley goes into the side-netting. He was under a lot of pressure, to be fair, and was going away from goal.
22 min: Mascherano bullets a shot from 30 yards out just over the bar. That was ferociously hit, but it was right above Cech and he would have saved it if it had been on target. "Ironic Guardiola complaining that Pique hasn't been focussed on the game, if he hadn't had his eye on the ball there he might have seen Valdes coming before he got knocked out..." notes Patrick Cullen.
23 min: Didier Drogba had Chelsea's only shot on target last week and now he's had their first shot this week. After Barcelona had been unable to clear a long ball, it fell to him just outside the area. He didn't need to shoot and could have held on to possession but instead tries an ambitious hooked volley that drifts over.
25 min: Barcelona are worried by Drogba. Again a raking long kick from Cech causes problems for the Barca defence. He makes a fool out of Pique, who was lucky not to give away a penalty, but from a tight angle the Ivorian can only shoot into the side-netting. This is not a foregone conclusion at all.
26 min: Now Barcelona have to alter their back four. Gerard Pique is still feeling the effects of the earlier blow to the head, which perhaps explained why Drogba outmuscled him there, and he's replaced by Dani Alves.
28 min: The atmosphere is muted. Chelsea have successfuly quietened the Nou Camp and even though they really should be 2-0 down, they are doing a fairly good job of disrupting the tiki-taka stylings of Barcelona. "This reminds me of when Harrogate Railway hosted Bristol City in the FA Cup a few years ago," says Fraser Thomas. "Stay with me here. At times the Railways had seven men across the back and hardly moved up field. Final score? 1-3 to the Robins." Yes, it's exactly like that.
29 min: If I was a Barcelona fan, I'd be getting edgy now. There's still something not quite right about them and Chelsea's defending, if a little fraught at times, has been magnificent.
31 min: Xavi has a pop from distance. It's deflected by Lampard and spins out for a corner on the left. They take it short, it's worked back to Iniesta and his awful shot is screwed well wide of the right post from long range. A discernible lack of belief is growing in the Barcelona ranks.
32 min: Mikel picks up the first booking for a clumsy foul on Sanchez on the halfway line. "With Dani Alves on for Pique, doesn't that mean Barca are playing a 2-3-5, effectively re-inverting the pyramid?" asks Jim Bach. It's a 2-2-2-2-2-1-1. Is that 11 players? I lost count.
33 min: Cech is engaging the wick of the Barcelona fans, taking as much time as possible over goal-kicks. Barcelona, it's fair to say, are getting eggy, to use the parlance of the playground.
GOAL! Barcelona 1-0 Chelsea, 1-1 agg (Busquets, 35 min): Barcelona make the breakthrough and the tie is now level on aggregate. All that hard work for nothing. Chelsea will be furious with the manner of this goal, because it essentially came from a corner. The corner itself wasn't a threat, Drogba powerfully heading it away, but only as far as far as Alves, 30 yards out. For reasons best known to Chelsea, their defence failed to push up and Alves poked a pass to Cuenca on the left. He drew Cech, slid the ball into the six-yard box and with players queuing up, Busquets stroked it into the empty net.
37 min: JOHN TERRY IS SENT OFF! LIGHT THE BLUE TOUCHPAPER! It's all gone wrong for Chelsea in the space of two minutes, but they can't have too many complaints about this. It was a staggering piece of stupidity from the Chelsea captain who, for no apparent reason, kneed Sanchez in the back just outside the area with play going on elsewhere. The referee didn't see it, but his assistant did. Terry lost his head completely. A moment of madness and while there will be talk of Barcelona getting all the decisions in these big games, what on earth was the eedjit thinking of? Chelsea have lost one centre-back, Gary Cahill, to injury and the other to a moronic red card.
39 min: After a 22-man debate about the rights and wrongs of the red card, hot heat particularly emanating from Puyol, the upshot of it all is that Barcelona have a free-kick just outside the Chelsea area. Messi slams a dismal effort straight into the wall.
42 min: Cuenca curves a pass into the area for Sanchez. He twists and turns, but can't wriggle clear to make space for the shot and Chelsea hack it clear.
GOAL! Barcelona 2-0 Chelsea, 2-1 agg (Iniesta, 44 min): That, ladies and gentlemen, is that. Messi might not score against Chelsea, but that doesn't mean he can't produce gorgeous assists. With Chelsea's makeshift back four, now featuring Ivanovic and Bosingwa at the heart of it, floundering, Messi finds a crucial pocket of space 30 yards from goal. He starts motoring and then, with all the attention on him, he slips a cute pass to the left for the unmarked Iniesta. He opens up his body, takes a touch and calmly slots it past Cech and into the bottom-right corner.
WHO WOULD BELIEVE THIS? Barcelona 2-1 Chelsea, 2-2 agg, Chelsea ahead on away goals (Ramires, 45 min+1): Moments after picking up a booking that would rule him out of the final, Ramires, channelling the spirit of Roy Keane in Turin in 1999, puts Chelsea ahead on away goals! This is astonishing! Who saw this coming? Not Barcelona, who went to sleep as Chelsea launched a rare counter-attack. Lampard knocked a sublime pass down the inside-right channel for Ramires, who had charged into the area. Valdes was way too far off his line and from 15 yards out, the Brazilian sumptuously chipped the ball over him and into the gaping net, digging it up on the run like a golfer chipping a stray ball out of the bunker! What a finish! Joga bonito.
Half time: Barcelona 2-1 Chelsea (agg 2-2). The referee brings an end to what was, quite frankly, a ridiculous half of football. Somehow Chelsea - 10-man Chelsea, no less - lead Barcelona on away goals, just when it looked like all hope had been extinguished. This, it goes without saying, is far from over though. If Chelsea go out, will John Terry lose his 'Captain! Leader! Legend!' status?
Yes, yes, in all my excitement, I accidentally got the first goal mixed up. Well done to those who spotted it. Well done for paying attention.
What a vicious, preposterous, pathetic red card that was from John Terry. What an oaf. He should be ashamed of himself, but knowing him he won't think he's done anything wrong. Sanchez was minding his own business and suddenly Terry had booted him up the backside. If Chelsea go out, he won't be able to look any of his team-mates in the eye again.
Off we go again. Chelsea must do what Inter did two years ago and hold Barcelona with 10 men. But Inter had their full complement of defenders. Chelsea's back four is Ramires-Bosingwa-Ivanovic-Cole. If they manage this, it will be one of the greatest performances of all time. It's something of a tall order though. "Great goal back but previously, I don't know what was funnier: Lampard's fay little jump in the air as Busquets slotted or Terry feigning outrage over his red card," says Daniel Wilson. "He is a disgrace. Shame Cahill went off as this would have been great experience ahead of the Euros. Terry's successor, just hope he doesn't pick up Terry's disgusting ways."
47 min: Messi's chip finds Fabregas in the area. He chests it down for Iniesta, who looks nailed on to score, but Ivanovic brilliantly denies him. Superb defending. "It was clearly not a moment of madness from Terry, neither did he loose his head," says Robert Combley. "It was a premeditated and cynical attempt to injure an opponent when he thought he could get away with it. The man brings enormous shame on his club and his country. Why would there be talk of Barca getting decisions after that?"
48 min: PENALTY TO BARCELONA! That didn't take long. Fabregas plays a one-two with Messi and races into the area. Drogba is caught napping, panics, goes to ground and brings him down. The assistant behind the goal seemed to give it.
49 min: LIONEL MESSI'S PENALTY HITS THE BAR! Will he ever score against Chelsea? This is one of the most absurd matches of football I've ever seen. He hit it crisply and to Cech's left. The keeper went the right way but wouldn't have had a chance if it had been an inch lower.
50 min: John Terry is claiming he didn't deliberately knee Sanchez in the back. Oh John. Yes you did. They have these things called cameras, you see. Andres Iniesta and Branislav Ivanovic have both been booked by the way. Ivanovic will now miss the final if Chelsea get there. That makes two for Chelsea now.
52 min: Messi's penalty was, if anything, too precise. "That Messi. Couldn't hit a cow's arse with a bango," says Gavin Fowke.
52 min: Old chums Fabregas and Lampard lock horns, the Chelsea man hacking away at Fabregas who was on the turf. Messi gives Lampard a shove in the chest. A good sign for Chelsea if he's starting to lose his cool.
54 min: Barcelona should be ahead on aggregate again. The more chances they miss, the more you suspect the impossible really could happen. Alves breaks clear on the right flank, Drogba going to sleep again. He lofts a cross to the far post and Sanchez plants a free header wide of the left post. A strange lack of conviction in that one. "Obviously, had this game been played during a downpour at Stoke, the assistant ref would also have missed the knee by Terry," says Jim Rogers.
56 min: Barcelona have been so careless throughout this tie, it's not a stretch to say they may need more than one more goal to go through.
56 min: If Drogba had scored this, there would have been no point continuing with football. We would have just had to stop the sport right here, right now. There would have been nothing left to see. He muscled Cuenca deep in Chelsa's half, down by the left corner flag. He then proceeded to romp up the right flank, nutmegging Puyol and then attempting to score from the halfway line. It genuinely wasn't too far away.
58 min: Salomon Kalou is introduced for Juan Mata.
59 min: A free-kick for Barcelona on the right flank. Lampard shanks his clearance up into the air and towards goal, and Puyol flicks a header wide. The home fans then demand a booking for Cech for timewasting and the referee obliges. That's ridiculous. The ball had barely gone behind by the time he was shown a yellow card. How fast is he meant to go?
60 min: They've got this far. And you know what, Barcelona have done little since missing the penalty. "Why does Gary Neville keep on emphasising that the referee is Turkish?" says Philip Walsh. "Is he suggesting that the ref isn't up to the job because he's from a "small" footballing country? This is the same Neville who - amongst others - constantly criticises English referees in the Premiership. But, then again, I guess England isn't a big footballing country either."
62 min: Cech preserves Chelsea's lead with another fine save, this time from Cuenca. He was played in on the left by Iniesta, but Cech closed down the angle and saved with his chest. Barcelona have had enough chances over both legs to win two ties.
63 min: Xavi's pass, intended for Alves, drifts out for a goal-kick. He's not had his best game.
64 min: Oh my, what a chance for Ivanovic. Drogba caused the jittery Mascherano to concede a corner. Lampard whipped it in from the left and Valdes comes and gets nowhere near it, but Ivanovic's header drops harmlessly past the left-hand post.
66 min: Pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass. But Barcelona are going nowhere. There's lack of tiki and a lack of taka. It's all outside the Chelsea area, and the visitors are refusing to be drawn out.
67 min: Christian Tello, the villain of the piece against Real Madrid, is on for Isaac Cuenca.
68 min: Is this Salomon Kalou's Nicklas Bendtner moment? Barcelona make an almighty hash of dealing with a hopeful pass into their area, but Kalou isn't quick enough off the mark and eventually Valdes mops up.
70 min: Chelsea have 20 minutes. Twenty minutes that will feel like 20 years. To be perfectly honest, Barcelona aren't overly troubling them.
71 min: Messi is booked for a tug on a Chelsea shirt. He's been anonymous since his missed penalty.
72 min: More confirmation, if any was needed, that Lampard and Fabregas don't much like each other as the Chelsea midfielder scythes through the former Arsenal man. He's booked.
73 min: Messi's backheel gives Iniesta a shooting chance, but his drive is blocked. Chelsea have been immense.
74 min: This is a weird substitution, Seydou Keita replacing Cesc Fabregas. Although Keita threatens with his first touch, darting on to a reverse-pass from Messi, but his shot is deflected and Cech claims.
76 min: Against a defence featuring Jose Bosingwa at centre-back, Barcelona have run out of ideas.
77 min: "At this rate RDM will probably have to suit up and play, in the unlikely event Chelsea make it to Munich," says Shawn T.
78 min: This is Barcelona's best chance for a long while. And it's a reflection of how well Chelsea have done that it's not even a glaring one, at least in these circumstances. A clearing header falls short and lands to Busquets, around 15 yards out, but he leans back and scoops his volley harmlessly over.
80 min: Ten minutes. Fernando Torres, so often a tormentor of Barcelona during his Atletico Madrid days, is on for Didier Drogba. "How has the referee handled himself today?" asks Karl Mulloney-Radke. "No suggestion of blunders from the MBM, but are we going to hear years of whinging if Chelsea squeak through?" He's done well.
82 min: Barcelona have the ball in the net, but the flag was up long before Sanchez scored. Torres let Alves go as Messi slipped it in behind him. He cut it back for Sanchez, whose finish was low and true. But Alves was offside. Just. No goal.
83 min: Messi scampers in from the right and drills a low shot towards the near post, but Cech plunges down and gets the lightest of fingertips on the ball to push it on the post! Cech has been outstanding, in both legs. That's the fourth time Barcelona have hit the woodwork over the course of the tie.
85 min: It's all too tight around the area for Barcelona, and they are struggling to pick the lock. The door is being firmly slammed in their face every time.
86 min: Messi. Past Meireles. But not past the always reliable Cole, who whacks it out for a corner. Barcelona contrive to make an abject mess of it. "You do realise who Barcelona are just like if they lose this game?" says Billy Murphy. "Liverpool."
88 min: Messi can't stop giving it away. This has been a titanic effort from Chelsea. But tonight, Barcelona look like a side for whom the end is near.
89 min: If they reach the final, Chelsea will have four players suspended. Raul Meireles is the latest to go into the book, despite his pleas to the referee.
90 min: Mascherano strides forward and spanks a low drive towards the bottom-left corner. The incredible Cech pushes it wide again. Puyol heads the corner over. There will be three minutes of stoppage time.
GOAL! CHELSEA ARE IN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL! Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea, 2-3 agg (Torres, 90 min+1): What a way to start paying back that £50m transfer fee! With Barcelona pushing everyone forward, they forget to leave anyone back to mark Fernando Torres. A punt forward sends him racing clear of the non-existent Barcelona defence. He waits for Valdes to commit himself, and once he does he just skips round him and rolls it into the empty net! That is pure catharsis for a player who has had a dismal 15 months or so since joining Chelsea. The European champions are out.
Full time: Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea (agg 2-3): Barcelona have nothing left. Tonight and maybe this season. The Turkish referee brings an end to one of the barmiest matches you could ever wish to see and Chelsea are in the Champions League final! Roberto Di Matteo is a football genius.
This time, Barcelona don't turn on the sprinklers. They were awful after Lionel Messi missed his penalty. They had a few isolated moments here and there, but hardly threw the kitchen sink at Chelsea, just a few pieces of cutlery that missed the target. The Chelsea players can barely believe it. They're all just walking around hugging anything that moves. David Luiz, of course, is the one leading the celebrations. This is one of the most immense victories in the history of football - not just Chelsea's. It's even better than Inter's win here. More flabberghasting than Manchester United's act of escapology in this stadium in 1999. This is up there with the Miracle of Istanbul. Maybe even more astonishing. They survived Gary Cahill's injury, John Terry's red card and going behind, and still had time to see Lionel Messi, the greatest player in the world, miss a penalty. Football is a strange sport.
Chelsea must feel like they've already won the Champions League. But there is, of course, a final to be negotiated and these are the players they will be without due to suspension: John Terry,
Roy Keane Ramires, Branislav Ivanovic and Raul Meireles. In that context, it only makes the victory even more remarkable. And spare a thought for Fernando Torres, the subject of so many jokes over the past year, who sealed it for Chelsea. That's right. Fernando Torres scored. In stoppage time. Away to Barcelona. It's been that sort of night. Now they just have an FA Cup final and Champions League final to look forward to. Thanks for reading. Good night.