One of those enormous and mouthwatering fixtures in the international sport that seldom fails to present drama and exquisite displays has concluded with neither team ascertaining their supremacy. The expectations of this widely anticipated fixture are regularly tinted with anxiety as well as enthusiasm, and the tie certainly hasn’t failed in bestowing entertainment to the supporters, as the clash involved diverse dazzling moments.
The visitors, who haven’t yet savoured any defeat in La Liga this term, checked in at Stamford Bridge with an abundance of confidence. However, the final scoreline doesn’t reflect the recent form the Catalans have been portraying, even with the opposition having spent relatively less time on the ball throughout.
The away side claimed the higher grounds in terms of possession, while the hosts solely focused on counter-attacks. Barcelona evidently had a better grasp over the match in the entirety of ninety minutes, however, a key corner secured the home side a much-needed draw, which by the way, was a brilliant execution by Fabregas, Hazard and Willian.
Regardless, one of the men who performed a prominent part in the fixture is, as anyone would anticipate, Lionel Messi. The skilful forward established his first ever goal against the men in Blue, subsequently putting an end to his goal drought in the process. Plus, the relentless runs made by the Argentine on and off the ball caused a lot of concern for the opposition, which unmistakably tally up to his contributions.
With the first leg of an eagerly awaited Champions League tie having reaped the results, the supporters have now set their sights on the next leg, due in a month’s time. Nevertheless, let’s review a few fundamental aspects of the disciplined performance Messi showcased on the night.
Barca’s priceless asset quite definitely had all eyes on him, having not scored in his former appearances against the Londoners, as previously mentioned. However, the playmaker’s movement and distribution this time around proved to be intimidating and tough to deal with for the Blues’ defenders, leaving them a day they’ll hardly ever forget.
The talisman further went on and marked a goal up his name on the scoresheet, having been assisted by Andrés Iniesta, which ended up ravishing the opponents’ hope for a victory. Despite being dispossessed a few times altogether in the match, the Argentine registered 81% passing accuracy, with a total of 60 accurate passes in the ninety minutes he was permitted to operate in.
Messi has now scored against 31 of the 37 clubs he has faced in European competition, in total 101 goals in 10,362 minutes; that’s a goal roughly every 102 minutes and 35 seconds. [Twitter/ChampionsLeague]
Impact On The Team
Ernesto Valverde started off the match with a 4-4-2 formation which saw Messi and Suarez placed at the front. Disregarding what the formation demanded, the Ballon d’Or laureate was constantly observed operating behind, in a quite deeper role.
In the goalless first half, the Argentina international primarily concentrated on creating chances for his teammates, trying to set them up for scoring. Consequently, the Number 10 had to track back through to the deep areas of the midfield, making use of his technical and dribbling skills to ward off the opposition, trying to make a pass possible.
It was entirely astonishing to discern the principal forward to restrain himself from propelling into scoring positions in order to increase his side’s control over the midfield, however, it exposed to the view of his efficacy as a versatile attacking player.
The Goal Which Handed The Catalans The Driving Seat
He’s done it…Lionel Messi finally scores against Chelsea! 🐐
Now we have a proper tie on our hands! pic.twitter.com/x3YBwv9KgZ
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 20, 2018
As the game entered its final 15 minutes, Andreas Christensen, without much of a thought, pinged across his own penalty box, which Cesc Fabregas helplessly watched, as Cesar Azpilicueta slid. However, Andreas Iniesta advanced with the ball forward and pulled back to Messi.
The forward took the chance brilliantly, as the ball struck just inside the post, leaving Thibaut Courtois rather incapable. Besides, the strike undeniably gave the Spanish giants an edge over the English side on grounds of the away rule, which further degrades Chelsea’s hopes of advancing forward in the prestigious stage.
It’s positively not the first time the Barcelona talisman has dazzled the likes of supporters by introducing the Midas touch into his beautiful football, showcasing a magnificent finishing style. With the second leg to come, the fans could expect more of his exquisite plays, as Los Cules now look forward to their forthcoming clash against the same opponents in a few weeks, when they host the potentially memorable fixture.