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The Blues may have gotten the better of their Spanish counterparts in last night’s Champions League clash but Cruyff is optimistic about his former club’s chances.

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Barcelona successfully took notice of Johan Cruyff’s previous advice on how to prevent Chelsea from scoring an away goal in the first leg Champions League semi-final encounter at the Camp Nou, but the Dutch maestro failed to inspire his old team to crack the Blues’ stubborn defence.

The 0-0 scoreline in Catalunya left the English giants the happier of the two sides but Cruyff is adamant that it is not the absolute ideal result for Guus Hiddink's men.

“Chelsea got a good result from the Camp Nou, but it’s not the best one. It is perhaps a result that they were after - no more, no less,” he wrote in El Periodico immediately after the game.

“But they know that 0-0 can be insufficient and they know it well. They are aware that Barca are an attacking team who have so far only fail to score in four out of the 54 official games this season.”

Hiddink Hindrance


Cruyff then admitted that he was not at all surprised by Hiddink’s decision to impose an ultra-defensive style of play, although he did not expect to see that throughout the 90 minutes.

“He had no bigger obsession than to avoid what happened to Bayern Munich [in the quarter-finals],” Cruyff explained.

“Certainly, Chelsea are a better side that the German champions but Guus knew better than anybody that if he tried to play Barca’s game, they would leave the Camp Nou in shambles, as Bayern did.

“In that sense, my compatriot did not deceive anybody when he said that he would not allow what happened to Bayern to befall Chelsea.

“I do have to confess, though, that I expected them to loosen up maybe after the first 20 minutes, try to initiate counterattacks, or at the very least, try to play football. But I was wrong. They continued with the strategy of frustrating Barca by interrupting the flow of the game, committing fouls and wasting time.”

Refereeing Controversy

Discussion then quickly turned to the referee, who has so far been criticised by the Barca camp for advocating Chelsea’s style of play.

“I will not speak of the possible penalty that [Thierry] Henry should have won,” he said. “I never do and never will. But the referee last night played against Barcelona.

“He harmed the spectacle of football and he punished the only team who wanted to play. His decisions played a part in Chelsea’s strategy because he allowed them to dictate the pace of the game by putting up with their time-wasting and interruptions, a tactic that does not favour Barca’s footballing philosophies at all.”

Marquez & Puyol Absence


The Blaugrana’s two central defensive stalwarts, Rafael Marquez and Carles Puyol will not be able to take to the field in London for the second leg due to injury and suspension respectively. And Cruyff, although confident his side can score, is worried about keeping things tight at the other end.

“I believe that Barca will be able to score a goal or two at Stamford Bridge. I’m sure of it.

“But I suspect that [coach Pep] Guardiola will have a bigger worry at the back because he has to replace two great footballers like Marquez and Puyol.

“The Mexican is a vital player because, not only can he hold the defensive line together, he also helps initiate Barca’s attacks. Marquez, and no-one else, is the only one who can unlock the game when all the virtuosos in attack are marked out.

“I expect that Chelsea will pump hundreds of balls towards Victor Valdes’ goal.”

KS Leong, Goal.com

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