1. Petr Cech was awful.
With captain fantastic John Terry missing through suspension and Chelsea just needing to keep it tight to progress, you felt that Chelsea would be relying on their world class goalkeeper to ease their passage in what should have been a relatively textbook second leg match against Liverpool. However, the match turned out to be anything but textbook and Petr Cech had an absolute nightmare. He was truly, truly awful. Liverpool’s first goal, direct from the free kick, was actually painful. Sunday League keepers should be sacked for conceding those sort of goals. Awful.
2. Liverpool have balls.
Regular readers will know that I’m not Liverpool’s biggest fan. In fact, if the saying made sense, I would be Liverpool’s smallest fan, but that sounds weird, so suffice to say, I don’t like Liverpool very much at all. However, I have to respect their players for coming out and having a damn good go at Chelsea this morning. After the ‘Milan final’ in 2005 we knew we couldn’t right Liverpool off but I don’t think anyone expected this to happen. When they came out and went 2-0 up so quickly i genuinely thought they would go on and win it. And considering no one really gave them a shot before the game, they have earned a lot of respect with their audacious, all guns blazing performance. Happily (for me) it wasn’t quite enough.
3. Gerrard the missing link?
Although Essien all but marked him out of the match in the first leg, I bet there are many Liverpool fans cussing the loss of Steven Gerrard for this morning’s decider. It really was his sort of match, open, flowing and end to end, and the Premier League’s marauding midfielder would surely have had a field day against a shabby Chelsea defence and his prowess at distance shooting would surely have given the awful Cech some headaches. I have to admit, I reckon that had Liverpool had a fit Gerrard in their side, I might not be so happy with the result of this tie.
4. Chelsea also have balls.
Chelsea were, to be frank, pretty shit under Scolari. They fizzled along and only stayed in touch in the Premier League because they had such a talented squad, but they weren’t playing as a team. Scolari just couldn’t get them going. But this morning’s match was a classic example of just how Hiddink has transformed the club since he took over temporarily, and they looked like they used to under the epically charismatic Mourinho. Going two-nil down so early would have crushed many teams and condemned them to defeat, but Chelsea fought back admirable an reversed the tie with an incredible comeback. Then they let it slip again, and fought back once more. Hiddink truly is a great manager, we’ve seen his team building prowess before in his international posts but this was something else.
5. “Oh yes… there will be goals.”
If TV stations are looking for tag-lines to use for their advertising of the semi-final between Chelsea and Barcelona, this will surely be it. Chelsea’s defence looked incredibly vulnerable today and despite the likelihood that Terry will be available for the semi, Barca possess the most formidable attacking unit in world football (+ Henry, Eto’o Xavi and Iniesta). But their defence isn;t exactly any great shakes either and I feel that Chelsea will really have to capitalise on that to have any chance of beating the Catalan side. They have to go at the weakness in Barca’s back line, but that could leave themselves exposed to Messi et al and so I think we could see more goal fests in the next round. Bring it on.