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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Chelsea 1-1 Barça



Barça really pulled one out of their butts last night at Stamford Bridge to advance to the finals of the Champions League with Manchester United. After the 0-0 draw at Camp Nou last week Chelsea had the goal they needed early on in last night’s match with a terrific shot by Michael Essien in the ninth minute. From this point on Chelsea had the sort of game they relish and that fans despise: a defensive slog in which they throw the entire squad in the box and then counter attack with lightening speed. Barcelona was fairly stifled throughout the match and, like in the first game, seemed timid and afraid to make a mistake instead of playing with brilliant abandon like they do so well.

I just couldn’t believe that Barça was going to play two games without scoring a single goal (as they had done last year). It was probably the worst officiated game that I have ever seen and the referee lost control of the match very early on. The culmination of the terrible calls came in the 66th minute when Abidal was given a red card when he didn’t so much as touch Anelka. Now Barça was facing a formidable defense with 10 men. In the 93rd minute Iniesta came through once again and stunned the crowd with the second great goal of the game.

I started off watching the game at La Tasca de Russafa but it was incredibly over-crowded. I left that firetrap at the break and walked a block down the street to El Faro. The atmosphere wasn’t quite as festive but at least I could move around without pushing someone over. When Barça scored I actually shook hands with a few of the other patrons whom I had only seen once or twice before while watching other matches at the bar.

I can understand people who think that watching sports on television is a moronic pastime. I sometimes feel this way if it concerns a sport that doesn’t interest me. After a great game like this one I feel a lot better about life in general than I probably should. I mean, why should I care if one sports team defeats another? All that I can say is that I’ve never felt that elated after walking out of a symphony or an opera, and I like symphonies and operas as much as the next guy (and probably more than the average knucklehead sports fan). I don’t want this to sound like an apology or an excuse for indulging in an activity that some would say is hardly worth the time of a serious person. It was a great night to be a sports fan. I’m glad I didn’t miss it.