Resiliance.Immense.Heroic. These were the adjectives used in the media to describe Chelsea’s parking of the bus on Tuesday night at the Nou Camp. I haven’t seen anything as overboard than that since Goldie Hawn in the film,er, Overboard
Glancing throught the papers yesterday, one would have thought that it was a team of cobblers and postmen that had battled their way to a goalless draw at the Nou Camp.
Well it wasn’t.This was a team of Internationals, with a combined cost of £130 million. And thats a conservitive estimate of the value of the team. 3 of the heros are captain of their respective countrys (Ballack -Germany, Terry – England, Drogba – Ivory Coast).
While there was much to admire in Chelsea’s display against arguably the most potent attack in world football, it must be viewed with a hint of perspective. Guus Huddink has made a career out of managing the underdog, and exceeding expections. We’ve seen this in his mangerial stints at consecative World Cups with South Korea and Austrialia that they were taken further in the competition then they could have dreamed before he took the post. He’s working the same magic again, except this time it’s with one of the most expensively acquired squads in the history of the game.
When he arrived in February, Chelsea were on the ropes. Punchdrunk after a late defeat at Anfield and a lame home draw against Hull. There was worries that even Aston Villa could overtake them, leaving Chelsea and Arsenal slugging it out for 4th place. What they could salvage is 2 trophies that 3 months ago seemed to be but a pipedream.
Hiddink has gotten the players playing for the team and each other again. If Tuesday nights game had been played at the start of February, I doubt we would have seen such selfless displays.
But the pressure is on next Wednesday night. With the riches at his disposal, Huddink has to go for the Jugular. The ball is firmly in Chelsea’s court. But that may not suit the Dutchman. In jobs where he was expected to provide glory ( Holland at Euro ’96, Real Madrid in the late 90’s), it has not always gone to plan. Wednesday shall reveal all.
Heroic? No. Disciplined? Fair enough, but there will be more space for Barcelona to exploit next week, and there is no better team around at doing exactly that.