.....oh dear oh dear, where to begin with this nonsense. The end maybe, Drogba.
What on earth was Drogba thinking?
His behaviour has shocked and appalled pretty much everyone without a Chelsea blue tint in their eye. All I can suggest is Drogba is not known for being a great man at the best of times, petulance and his low pain threshold are well documented. Thus, faced with a situation that would test a saint's patience or indeed say, Gianfranco Zola's, perhaps there can be little wonder the more combustible Drogba, well, exploded.
I am not defending his actions, just more of how he got to them. I cannot think of a comparable situation, other than say an instance where you know the truth of what you are saying but no-one else will believe or listen to you. It can be very hard to maintain a cool outward persona in such circumstances. As far as Drogba was concerned there had been at least four penalty shouts all dismissed by the referee, a situation highly rare, particularly in the modern game.
This is not to say he, or Ballack, were, as professional footballers, correct in their actions.
Drogba though is culpable of more than just his antics at the end. To be honest, his rolling around and petulant behaviour on the pitch probably meant the referee felt his penalty claim was an attempt at cheating and that may have tainted his view on the others. Drogba also failed to score on at least two occasions were he may have done better, if he wants to label anyone disgraceful he could start by looking closer to home.
Abidal card was harsh.
The sending off of Abidal was not only harsh but wrong, utterly incompetent. Abidal may have warranted at least a yellow on one or two other occasions for which he received nothing but on this occasion even a yellow would have been harsh. He barely, emphasis on the barely, clipped Anelka who then, possibly, was nudged into clipping his own feet and falling over. Freekick debatable but not a sending off.
The problem was that the referee Tom Henning Ovrebo had by this point completely lost the thread of the game he probably felt he had to do something to assuage a team and crowd that had, however wrongly, turned ugly towards him.
This, to be honest, thinking about it is not his fault. The fact he is reportedly receiving death threats is the biggest disgrace of the whole sorry affair. More scandalous than his performance. Somewhere in between though is UEFA's refereeing selection decision.
UEFA referee call baffles.
Why on earth pick a referee from the footballing giant of Norway for such a huge semi-final? Were the German referees on strike? Perhaps the Portugese referees were on holiday and a Dutch referee would not do as he would favour Hiddink surely? Yet these are all nations whose teams have won the European cup within the last 15 years. Yes the bigger nations referees have made mistakes in games, just like the Italian Roberto Rosetti in the preceding Semi-Final but not to this extent of incompetence.
There were in total six possible penalty claims, two were puffs of nonsense but the four were: Malouda being baulked inside the area. Possibly as Malouda was to the far side of the goal not a clear goal scoring opportunity, but a foul was committed, inside the box and the defender made no attempt to turn and play the ball. Make of it what you will.
Drogba being tugged back by his shirt. Seen them given but frankly he probably had time before and during the pull to attempt to unleash a shot and well, Drogba has gone into negative equity where benefit of the doubt is concerned.
Handball Pique. As far as I am concerned stonewall.
Handball Eto'o, desperate and would have been harsh on the man but after the previous claims and so forth, I have seen these given as well, particularly in certain other arenas.
Best two teams in the final?
But enough. The great myth being passed around now by Chelsea detractors is two attacking teams are in the final and Chelsea are defensive. Well lets look at the stats:
Chelsea Team Statistics Barcelona
1 Goals 1
1 1st Half Goals 0
4 Shots on Target 1
5 Shots off Target 8
4 Blocked Shots 5
6 Corners 6
16 Fouls 17
5 Offsides 0
4 Yellow Cards 3
0 Red Cards 1
69.7 Passing Success 87.7
23 Tackles 18
69.6 Tackles Success 77.8
29.1 Possession 70.9
42.1 Territorial Advantage 57.9
Chelsea may have had less possession but matched them almost apart from 1 (13 shots in total to Barca's 14) for chances and Chelsea's were the more potent (4 on target to Barca's 1). As for defensive, I think it is naive to leave a team so overly biased to attacking room and anybody who suggests it is clever to do so is frankly an idiot. Football involves defending and attacking, otherwise we might as well have a system of team attack, miss, then opposition team attack miss and so forth until a team scores than the opposition starts the cycle off again. Not football. You change tactics accordingly and when faced with such a forward line of Eto'o, Messi etc, of course you will be more cautious.
My question instead is, for all that possession and attacking force, how come Barcelona did not have at least TWICE the chance ration as Chelsea? The answer is to me they look good attacking but a lot of it is powder puff possession that damages no-one in the middle of the park, waiting for the opposition to fall into disorganisation. A lot of the teams, apart from Real Madrid, that Barcelona have carved up in La Liga would allow the likes of Middlesbrough and Newcastle to breathe easy freed from relegation fears if they were in the Premier League.
Chelsea gave, up until the equalizer and final whistle, a mature performance. Barca cannot cope with strong organised defences. Thus to me the final is probably going to be a whitewash. I think if Manchester United keep their heads, though as a Chelsea fan I loathe to say it, at some stage they could be 3-0 up. Barca might get one back but I think Manchester United are going to make yet more history. Chelsea would have given a better game in terms of keeping the final alive throughout 90 minutes. Barca will turn up, look pretty but get battered on last nights performance.