Goal.com's Ewan Macdonald looks back at an evening of Champions League action that sees the Blues head back to London with a 0-0 draw against the Blaugrana under their belts...When Guus Hiddink announced his Chelsea line-up to face Barcelona this evening, the reaction at Goal.com was mixed. Some expressed a little bit of surprise; one or two, a bit of disappointment. But for most people the immediate response was, "Ah! Of course!"
Yes, the Dutchman nailed it as the Blues managed that 0-0 draw. Chelsea went to Camp Nou, packed the midfield, and got the tie that they came for. Wily old Lucky Guus strikes again!
But the tale of the positive result - based on what could be termed a negative performance - in Catalunya was not merely down to the coach's wits. No, instead Chelsea put in a performance that they can be proud of.
At the back, Jose Bosingwa, a figure of fun for some when his name is mentioned in the same breath as Lionel Messi's, shackled his antagonist without too much difficulty. And when an error did some - such as that that John Terry committed to let Samuel Eto'o through on goal - Petr Cech was back on form to deal with it.
The five-man midfield was what truly made the difference, though, and in this setup John Mikel Obi deserves the plaudits. Xavi was largely anonymous thanks to his harrying and interference - something that Michael Ballack ably assisted with.
Up front, Didier Drogba had very little sight of the ball and should have done better with the one clear-cut chance with which he was prevented. Nonetheless he made sure that Gerard Pique and the disappointing (and now injured) Rafael Marquez were to have a worrisome evening despite its hardly being action-packed.
Many will complain about spoiler tactics. Already the whispers of 'catenaccio' have begun. But is it incumbent on Chelsea to let Barcelona play a brand of the game that's beautiful but deadly? The Blues could have dashed themselves on the rocks by following the siren song of sexy football, but instead they sailed straight and true.
Back in London they have every chance to make it count by reaching the final. The worry now, though, is that they need to score. Can they open up enough to do so without allowing Barcelona to do the same? That remains to be seen, for a man who may yet hear his approach questioned - Pep Guardiola - has some thinking of his own to do ahead of that clash.
Indeed, for all that Hiddink got right, Pep got wrong, one must say. For all that is an audacious, likable, and certainly so far successful coach, tonight was a startling show of naivete. Not so much in the starting eleven - minus Puyol it was as strong as it comes and most would have plumped for the same otherwise - but in the lack of changes.
It was as clear as day that only Andres Iniesta was able to create after the first quarter-hour mark, but when Thierry Henry eventually made way up front on the left, it was the ineffectual, out-of-sorts Aliaksandr Hleb who took that berth. Even before that, Bojan, who is said to be entirely out of confidence, spurned a chance at a time when a cooler head - and perhaps even that of a midfielder like Seydou Keita - may well have buried it.
The two positives he can draw from this game are firstly that he's had a chance to learn his lesson, and secondly that he now have just cause to spring a surprise in the second leg with his substitutes' board. And that may be what it comes down to - a late change. Because tonight indicates that, while Chelsea have won the battle, the war remains a close one to call.
Ewan Macdonald, Goal.com