Johan Cruyff: Barcelona Can’t Make Valencia Mistakes Against Chelsea

The Dutch legend has given his Blaugrana side a few tips on how to overcome a physical Chelsea outfit in the Champions League…

Think you've got what it takes to become the best Champions League manager and win great prizes? Join Manager at - it's FREE!

Former Barcelona player and coach Johan Cruyff was less than happy with Barca’s performance at the weekend, when they could only draw 2-2 at Valencia - a result that allowed title rivals Real Madrid to slash their lead at the summit of the Primera Division down to just four points.

The Dutch maestro analysed the game at the Mestalla in his usual El Periodico column while dropping advice to Pep Guardiola's troops ahead of the Champions League encounter with Chelsea and a showdown with Real Madrid this weekend in El Clasico.

“The draw at Valencia taught us three things: to add another point to our tally is more than good, but because Madrid won, many view it as a bad result. Second, it gives more credence to our achievements to date, as it demonstrated just how difficult it is to win comfortably while playing good football. Thirdly, it shows that there are always small details that we can polish up on,” he wrote.

“The question is not how good we are, but what we have done badly that has prevented us from being better. If you detect your own errors, it is easier to correct them and not to repeat them.

“The mistake that Barca made was that they did not play at their usual pace [against Valencia]. It is not the question of attitude, but just the pace.

“Chelsea will be just as fast as Valencia, if not faster. And they certainly will be physically stronger. We cannot out-muscle them. To avoid falling into their game-plan, we have to play our own game very well. We cannot repeat the mistakes we made at Valencia against Chelsea.

“We have to maintain our rhythm and move the ball around quickly because if they start playing high balls, we will never be able to match their height advantage.

“It’s important to keep the ball away from our goal as much and as long as possible because they are bigger than us in front of goal. It’s not a question of who will mark [Didier] Drogba, but how we can prevent the ball from reaching him,” he elaborated.

Cruyff then shifted his attention to the domestic front as he praised Madrid’s comeback efforts, although he still has his money on the Blaugrana winning the league title.

“Madrid’s fight-back has been impressive, but Barca remain the favourites,” he mused.

“We must go to the Bernabeu to win, regardless of whether we have a one-point, four-point or seven-point advantage. And we must go there to win because it is what we have done all season long.

“The last game that Madrid lost was against Barca. Barca have a chance to finish off Madrid’s incredible resistance. For me, this is without doubt the best scenario for Guardiola and his men.”

KS Leong,

Think you've got what it takes to become the best Champions League manager and win great prizes? Join Manager at - it's FREE!