For my first post, I will analyze how Chelsea were able to score against Barcelona to clinch a surprising 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea were more than happy to let Barcelona retain possession (21% – 79%), they decided to sit deep and counter-attack. Defensively they were very impressive, although Barcelona (notably Fabregas & Sanchez) squandered their chances.
Dani Alves played very high up the pitch but he created only 1 chance , had 3 unsuccessful long range shots, 0 successful crosses and couldn’t get past Ashley Cole once, which means he didn’t offer Barcelona anything going forward but most importantly he left behind him acres of spaces for Chelsea to attack.
Dani Alves, the winger
On the 46th minute, Mascherano the Left centre back, decided to carry the ball to an advanced position, leaving behind him Puyol and Drogba. He passed the ball to Messi who, frustrated by the tight lines of Chelsea, had to come very deep to get a touch of the ball.
Mascherano leaving Puyol vulnerable
Messi tried 11 take-ons in this game (more than any player), out of which 6 were successful, unfortunately for him and Barcelona this one wasn’t: Lampard robbed him on the half-way line. With Mascherano caught up-field and Dani Alves & Adriano beyond the halfway line Chelsea could at last counter Barcelona.
Messi, 6/11 take-ons
The second Lampard had won the ball he had only one thing on his mind: cross the ball in the space behind Dani Alves and let Ramires chase the ball. As you can see in the picture below: at the instant Lampard crossed the ball, Ramires was behind him, which only means this move was trained numerous times and Lampard knew exactly where Ramires will be heading.
Ramirez behind Lampard at instant of cross.
Normally, in these kind of situations, one Centre-Back marks the Forward and the other chases for the ball, but Puyol and Mascherano chose otherwise: Drogba’s excellent movement dragged both of them to the other side of the pitch, leaving Ramires and Xavi sprinting for the ball, and we all know who would win that race. Meanwhile Adriano and Dani Alves decided not to run back.
Drogba's excellent movement, Mascherano & Puyol miscommunication, Ramires & Xavi's race, Adriano & Dani Alves' jog.
Look at the space!
The 2 Centre-Backs miscommunication continued, when they realized the ball was actually going to the other side, they both ran towards Ramires, leaving this time Drogba alone. Ramires passed the ball to the unmarked Drogba, and Chelsea scored an important goal at home.
CB's miscommunication, Adriano's walk of shame