Fine, Barca are a very fine side, Messi is a fantastic player, but the way in which the eleven men of Barca have cheated in the first half has been beyond a joke. The Barca training routine probably involves a few forward rolls every time that one of their players feels the air of an opponent brush in their general direction. I can now empathise with Chelsea, it is that bad.
Wedid far better than in last week's first half, we took the lead when Walcott broke clear, he elected to sqaure to Bendtner whose inital effort was well saved, the young Dane reacted speadily and poked home the rebound, one nil to the Arsenal. It didn't last long and this may well be the massive regret for tonight's game, Messi pounded a brilliant twenty yarder past Almunia into the top corner. Messi then scored twice more and the defence was caught napping, Abidal looked a marginal offside for the second, there was no excuse for the third, we were caught badly out of position and Messi took full advantage.
What can you say about Messi? Well he's shown why he's such a great talent and such a cheating little piece of shit in one half. His goals were phenomenal, but his rolling when Denilson tackled him fairly was embarrassing to say the least. The theatrics of several other Barca players really took the piss, even their centre backs were diving to get our players booked. Rosicky and Denilson were booked very very hasrhly, while Milito was allowed a reckless over the top leg breaker on Nasri and Marquez was allowed a leg breaker on Rosicky, the ref also inexplicably kept his cards in his pocket as Busquets cynically chopped down Walcott on the break.
Given the number of players we've got out tonight, we've generally done all right, the frustration is that you simply cannot give the ball away in such dangerous aweas as we have done tonight, some of it has been too naive by far. Barca are a good side, but they are eminently beatable, as has been shown by the fact that we look like scoring whenever we break on them, I just hope we can give ourselves a small chance in the second half. There's no doubt that a lot of Barca's success is down to their persistent crowding and fouling in the midfield, combined with their cheating to win free kicks whenever an opposition player dares to try to win the ball back. I will never respect Barca as a great side because of this, they make Chelsea appear an ethical and moral team.
The second half saw a very even game and some good moments pass. Bendtner miscontrolled when the goal was at his mercy, Rosicky and Clichy fired high and wide from good positions, a couple of close offsides went against us. The Barca cheating continued, the worst being Eboue's booking as he was tugged back by Busquets who then feigned a non existent facial injury. Messi rubbed salt into our wounds with a calamitous fourth, the 4-1 score flattering Barca as the 2-2 score from the first leg had flattered us.
Overall we were too many men short against a very efficient Barca side. Our defence never looked right with Silvestre's inclusion meaning Vermaelen had to play on the right side where he never looked at home. There were just too many absentees to make up for, even so if we could have just taken one of those key chances it could have all been so different. Van Persie, Gallas, Campbell, Song, Cesc, Van Persie would have all added something tonight but it was not to be. We can learn from this in many ways, we need a bit more depth in certain areas, we must work a bit harder off the ball, we must be more clinical in the final third. Perversely tonight the players fought hard and didn't deserve to go down 4-1, at least they can look in the mirror and see faces not as ugly and cheating as that of Messi.