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Leaving Chelsea FC's Stamford Bridge stadium not only defeated but wet and cold, FC Barcelona had every right to look and sound tired, disconsolate and deflated.
As well as demonstrating a range of ways to miss decent chances Josep Guardiola's team twice hit the post and the bar, via Alexis Sánchez and Pedro Rodríguez – losing their UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg to a goal from an old tormentor in Didier Drogba.
In recent seasons Barcelona have either lost or drawn at home in UEFA competition to the likes of Celtic FC, Liverpool FC, Manchester United FC and of course Chelsea – either of which result would eliminate the European club champions next Tuesday. However, Guardiola's men remain in reasonable spirits due to the guiding knowledge that resolving the one-goal deficit is well within their capacity.
They have scored 129 times this season in the Liga and UEFA Champions League and it is hard to envisage Lionel Messi, Cesc Fàbregas, Alexis or Pedro being as profligate again on Tuesday. Thiago Alcántara is not amongst the ten Blaugrana players to score in the competition thus far but he can still quite clearly envisage his team-mates turning the tie on its head if they hit their stride.
Thiago told UEFA.com: "This hasn't even really been a 'strange day at the office', just an unfortunate one in terms of scoring the goals we should have. It's not the result we were seeking and now we'll just have to prepare for the second leg.
I don't think that we learned a great deal that was new about Chelsea. They closed up at the back and counterattacked. I don't think that's solely responsible for them winning because, in fact, their game plan partly benefitted us. It allowed us possession of the ball, in good areas, and we created chances because of that. With respect to the second leg we are calm and confident."
In the quarter-finals, Barcelona also failed to score away from home, eventually eliminating AC Milan 3-1, but that tie gave a partial indication to how tense things can get while chasing a deficit and attempting to prevent the visitors to the Camp Nou from scoring. Guardiola has remained steadfastly true to his concept that his Barça teams will go into every match with the aim of winning and, at worst, the minimum aim of scoring away from home.
So on both measures the visit has been a failure. Was Guardiola displeased, particularly with a view to Saturday's Clásico against Real Madrid CF? "What the coach said will remain in the dressing room," confirmed Thiago, shrewdly.
His Brazilian team-mate, Daniel Alves was the most upbeat of the vanquished, saying: "I'm sure that Chelsea's best player in their team was their goalkeeper.
We have chances to qualify for the final and now I just hope that our luck in front of goal changes."
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