The Andy Gray Column: Barca a Bridge too far for Chelsea

Summary: ambassador Andy Gray was talking exclusively to SW Londoner.


I think Chelsea as a collective are a poorer team than when they last played Barcelona in the Champions League in 2009 and were eliminated – the semi-final is a one-horse race I fear.

I don’t think Chelsea’s big guns like John Terry or Frank Lampard are anywhere near as good and I think Barcelona and Lionel Messi in particular are better.

There is a combination of facts that make life really difficult for Chelsea to progress – and most-importantly how do you stop Messi? He’s in unbelievable form and is simply world-class.

I expect Barcelona to beat them comfortably and I expect Barcelona to be favourites but Chelsea have a chance to progress and that is the way they have to go into it and play football.

Chelsea have to believe they have enough quality footballers to turn in a performance.

I think it may be beyond them but it all depends on how the defence reacts, if they don’t play above and beyond then Chelsea could be beaten three or four.

The Barcelona forward moment is incredibly hard to defend against and they create chances galore and you will suffer.

Only Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich can say whether interim boss Roberto di Matteo could be in with a shout of the Stamford Bridge job if they do the unthinkable and dump Barcelona out of the competition.

Di Matteo has done a good job since replacing Andre Villas-Boas but I wouldn’t say he has turned it around just yet and they were very ordinary against Benfica.

Even with ten-men Benfica were the better side and so it is not as if he has got the players playing magnificent football but he has got results which you can compliment him on.

But the only way he could be in the frame for the job is if they win the Champions League. The dismissal of Avram Grant showed you that.

He was a penalty kick away from winning Europe’s biggest prize but would he have kept his job anyway?

I’m not so sure he would have done. So Abramovich will want someone in who he knows and likes and is a big name – I don’t think di Matteo fits the bill.

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