Well-drilled Chelsea hold Barcelona to first-leg draw | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 29.04.2009
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Well-drilled Chelsea hold Barcelona to first-leg draw

Chelsea will be pleased to have battled out a 0-0 draw away to Barcelona on Tuesday, in a tight and tactical Champions League semi-final first leg match.

Branislav Ivanovic, left, of Chelsea fights for the ball with Barcelona's Thierry Henry

Barcelona had the lion's share of possession

Few teams have managed to control the brilliant Barcelona attack this season, but Chelsea did so thanks to some indefatigable defensive work - and thanks to Barca's stars having an uninspired night.

Lionel Messi never managed to escape from the clutches of stand-in Chelsea left-back Jose Bosingwa; Samuel Eto'o was well controlled by John Terry and Alex; Branislav Ivanov kept a sharp eye on Thierry Henry; and Jon Obi Mikel rarely let Xavi breathe.

Eto'o said that "this is not a bad result for us, but we will have to score there” at Chelsea's home ground Stamford Bridge next Wednesday.

The Cameroon striker added that "(Chelsea) will not be able to play this way at home," meaning that Guus Hiddink's side will have to come out of their defensive shell in front of their own fans.

Clean sheet "important"

Barca president Joan Laporta praised Chelsea for having "defended well," but insisted that "the important things is that they have not scored here."

Albert Fererer - who played for both Barca and Chelsea - commented on Antena 3 television channel that "no one believes that Barca cannot win there" and that the second leg "will be a different game."

Fellow Antena 3 analyst Jose Mari Bakero, who helped Barca win their first Champions Cup in 1992, cautioned the Spanish audience "not to expect radical changes from Chelsea (in the second leg)," but expressed the hope that "they will leave more spaces at the back."

Unpolished performance

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique, right, fights for the ball with Chelsea striker Didier Drogba

Drogba's attacking flair was not on show at Camp Nou

As expected, Barca dominated possession from start to finish. However - with Messi, Xavi and Iniesta having a bad night - they lacked the final pass to break down a well-drilled Chelsea defense.

This pushed the hosts to try their luck with speculative long shots, none of which troubled Chelsea goalkeeper Peter Cech.

Cech did well to save a near-post Henry drive in the 34th minute.

The clearest chance in a colorless first half fell to Didier Drogba in the 39th minute, after a miscued back-pass from Rafa Marquez. The Ivorian hitman was bravely foiled by Barca keeper Victor Valdes.

Two to miss return leg

The second half started badly for Barca, when Marquez twisted his left knee and was stretchered off. The Mexican defender seems to have damaged the external cartilage in his knee and could be out for the rest of the season.

Another blow for the hosts was a yellow card picked up Carles Puyol, who came on for Marquez, a card which will keep him out of the second leg.

In the 69th minute, Eto'o came close to breaking the deadlock, but was foiled by Cech after a powerful surge.

Barca coach Josep Guardiola then surprisingly took Eto'o off, to the relief of the Chelsea defense.

Barca thrust forward defiantly towards the end, but substitutes Bojan Krkic and Aliaksandr Hleb were unable to beat Cech.

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