Nevertheless, what actually followed was an incredible show of grit, stubbornness and sheer will power, that saw Chelsea pull off a mighty upset over the Catalans and book their place into the final in Munich. Barcelona's indomitable possession over the two legs in the end counted for nothing as the Pensioners managed to score the all important vital goals in their limited opportunities, just when it was required. It was a rather unorthodox approach as Chelsea parked the bus infront of the all firing Barcelona attack and were happy to catch them on the counters.
The ultra-defensive tactics of Roberto Di Matteo seemingly caught Barcelona off guard and they just couldn't break through the Chelsea's fortress more than twice through out the two legs, which eventually proved too little too less. Obviously, the Blues had their fair share of luck too but at the end of the day it was well earned.
This particular approach received mixed reactions from the football pundits across the world. While most lauded Chelsea for their smart tactical display, few claimed that such measures were nothing but "anti-football". Among them included former German legend Gunter Netzer.
The former Borussia Munchengladbach and Real Madrid midfielder was rather critical about the Blues and marked them to be playing a "terrible football".
"I can only condemn Chelsea's style of football. If this kind of football becomes fashionable, I might never go to a stadium."
- Gunter Netzer
He further stated that he would never be endorsing a type of football that only seeks for results.
A similar sentiment was shared by Ajax coach Frank de Boer, who felt it was 'awful' to have Chelsea in the Champions League final.
|"This is terrible. How the hell is this still possible? It is one way of achieving success, but not ours [Ajax's]. I would rather go down fighting"
- Frank De Boer
Well, so what has been Chelsea's mistake then? They didn't play the so called "beautiful" football, right? Now, how do you define 'beautiful football' yourself? Isn't 'beauty' supposed to be a very relative term? Perception of which should vary from person to person. So, how ideal is it to condemn someoneelse's perception of beauty that does not necessarily match with yours?
Let's put this into a more clearer perspective now. Even the most layman would know that in football, defense is as much important as offence. So, isn't a team that is defending with utmost solidity, playing as much of a beautiful game, than a team that is attacking with flair and aggression? Yes, they certainly are.
What people fail to understand that defending is an art, which is as much a part of football as is attacking and is certainly no "alien" aspect to the game. It very much justifies the essence of football, on exactly the equal terms. So, why do we possess such a negative outlook when it comes to 'defensive football'?
On one hand, you consider all defending and no attacking, a severe crime, and on the other, when a team goes all out on attack but leaves vital gaps at the back, it becomes very much the part of your 'beautiful football'. Isn't this rather ambiguous?
On a different note, we often severely criticize teams like Arsenal, who play an attacking brand of football but have failed to get the results in terms of trophies and silverwares. Now, when a team indeed plays for the result, you blame them for "only playing for the final product" ! Doesn't it sound a bit hypocritical?
Well, moving on from this aspect, even in the most tactical of outlooks, some of the remarks sounds rather bizarre. They say there is a thin line between bravery and foolishness. Indeed, why should one feed to the opponent's strength just for the sake of showing the world that you're willing to match your opponent toe to toe? Clearly it was Chelsea's strength to defend and hence they countered Barcelona's attack with their own strength. It would have been utter foolishness to go all out in attack and end up conceding a handful of goals without managing to do the same from your own part. Why challenge the opponent in an aspect of the game, where they clearly are the stronger of the two? It's certainly easier said than done!
And moreover, at the end of day, Chelsea did score more goals than Barcelona; a fitting evidence to the fact that they certainly had an eye on finding the back of the net. It wasn't all about defending, defending and defending, was it?
In fact, the two legs presented an intriguing battle of two different brands of football. Each trying the best to out-battle the other. So, if you're looking for entertaining football, what better can you ask for?
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