Barça, for all their possession and control, could not find a way around a Chelsea side who deserved to reach the final
Chelsea were brave. Barcelona lacked brains. Sometimes you have to be blockers, hackers and whackers to achieve your goal and Chelsea chased and harried to prevent the waves of Barcelona attacks overwhelming them. The Barça performance gave ammunition to opponents of tiki-taka, as they played overly patient football against a lion-hearted Chelsea, who were left a man short after John Terry's red card.
Having the ball for 70% of the game is a futile statistic if you lose sight of your purpose in the last 40 yards. Incredibly, for all their instant control and movement, Barcelona could not penetrate Chelsea and drag defenders away from the centre. If ever they needed a different approach, it was here.
Unable to hit diagonal balls due to not having a big striker, they also did not shoot enough from distance and dismally failed to hurt Chelsea in wide positions. Chelsea refused to budge from the centre and Barcelona lacked the cunning to get round the back. With no space behind Chelsea's defence, Pep Guardiola's side made few chances, particularly after Lionel Messi missed a penalty early in the second half.
Chelsea's early tactics resembled the pattern at Stamford Bridge last week and one wondered how they could ensure Didier Drogba was not isolated. Juan Mata covered up and helped Branislav Ivanovic against the exquisite control of Andrés Iniesta while Ramires helped Ashley Cole quell Isaac Cuenca, an orthodox right winger whose youth was exposed.
Gary Cahill's injury and Terry's foolishness completely unhinged Chelsea and José Bosingwa and Ivanovic were forced to form an unlikely centre-back pairing. The task was daunting. Chelsea would need all the energy possible to contain the best attacking side in the competition and, with no alternative but to park the bus, they reverted to a 4-5-0 formation. Ashley Cole almost became a third centre-back, with Drogba defending as an auxiliary full-back. He gave away the penalty but fortunately Messi spurned it.
Barcelona were continually foiled. It required a touch of genius to prise Chelsea open, as the space became too congested in front of the area. Their midfielders needed to go wide and put pressure on Drogba and Ramires in order to maximise their numerical advantage, but Barcelona lacked a change of direction; a plan B.
It would be wrong not to praise Chelsea's magnificent defiance but Barça's tactics did not work against the 10 men. Luck played a part but Chelsea deserved to reach the final – probably against José Mourinho's Real Madrid.