"Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved." William Jennings Brian, American politician & author.
After a first leg that was nigh on flawless, a perfect storm appeared to be gathering around the Nou Camp that threatened to rip Roberto Di Matteo's plans, and his team, to pieces. But another superb performance from the old guard provokes the feeling that the Italian may be in charge of destiny's children.
The finest night in Chelsea's history? Doubtful. The greatest game in Champions League history? Certainly not. But take nothing away from Chelsea, that performance was quite remarkable. And once the dust has settled and hyperboles silenced, Tuesday night will certainly be remembered for a long time by the fans - this time round for all the right reasons.
Last week I described Chelsea's sturdy first-leg performance as Titanic; and to borrow the same analogy Di Matteo must have been prepping the lifeboats for action after the opening 43 minutes, which saw their first-leg lead overturned by Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta, and their influential leader dismissed.
From there on it seemed inevitable that Chelsea would be fighting against a monumental Spanish current; with the blue men throwing their limbs in every which way to merely keep their head above water and a grasp on the situation, relishing every opportunity that allowed them to take a moment's breath. And as typically is the case, blame must be placed on the shoulders of the captain of the ship.
John Terry's actions were idiotic and completely mindless. In a country that gathers much publicity and opinion in their support for the blood sport, throwing a knee into the back of Alexis Sanchez was the equivalent of taking a red rag to an angry bull. If 'that miss' in the shootout at Moscow is the worst moment in Terry's professional career, then recklessly throwing away the opportunity to restore himself must be a close second. But more important than his own self-fulfilment, Terry's actions may, and most likely will, threaten his team-mates' prospects on May 19 at the Allianz Arena.
Heading into the final without two of your leading defenders in Terry and Branoslav Ivanovic, and a further two carrying injuries in the form of Gary Cahill and David Luiz, does not leave much room for manoeuvre. In the event that the latter two do not make the cut they may be forced into a back four consisting of Jose Bosingwa and Michael Essien/John Obi Mikel at the heart of the defence. How they must rue letting Alex go.
But, saying that, they kept out the best attacking team in world football, in their own back yard, with 10 men, so who's to say it won't happen again? And it is this real sense of belief that will give the team and their supporters much hope up against Bayern Munich or their old friend Mr Mourinho.
After Lionel Messi crashed a penalty against the bar (which was his first miss 'off target' in his career from the spot) and then thudded another against the post, the feeling became increasingly prevalent that Pep Guardiola and his team were up against something much stronger than Petr Cech and Didier Drogba - they were fighting fate. There was just a feeling, much like the one experienced by Liverpool in Istanbul in 2005, that no matter what was thrown at them this was always going to be Chelsea's night, and Chelsea's tie.
That is not to take away from the monumental performance yet again put in by the Blues. The mantra 'if it aint broke' is clearly one translated into Italian as Di Matteo fielded the same team, formation and tactics as at Stamford Bridge six days ago. After 30-odd minutes in which Chelsea looked reasonably comfortable, the injury to Gerard Pique came somewhat as a blessing in disguise to Barca as it allowed the introduction of Dani Alves (who inexplicably was left out of the starting line-up) to give them much needed width and space for them to forge two goals either side of the Terry dismissal.
And at 2-0 on the night against 10 men the tie was over. Finito. Adios. You feared for Chelsea and their interim manager - it was no longer a case of how, but by how many?
But then a moment out of nowhere that changed everything. Ramires ran onto a perfectly weighted Frank Lampard (again excellent) through-ball and dinked an eloquent chip over the on-rushing Victor Valdes, in what was a complete bolt from the Blues. It changed the game. Chelsea then had something to hang on to, and they weren't letting go of it until their hands were, well, black and blue. And after the terrible time Fernando Torres has had at Chelsea, in comparison to his excellence when making a living in his home country, it again felt like fate gave a nod and wink.
Something bizarre is happening to Barcelona, and for the very first time Guardiola is beginning to be tested. Success breeds contempt, and those supporters of the modern game that for the last three seasons have gushed over the wonders of Tiki-taka, are now beginning to nibble the hand that has fed them so handsomely.
Their performances over the last week have been extremely flat. Madrid's victory at the weekend was somewhat greeted with relief, with liberation that football was becoming 'less predictable' again, and dare I say more fun. Does this signal a change in power? Is Cristiano Ronaldo now the best in the world? Will Jose Mourinho become the greatest of all time? All questions that we can now begin to ponder without a resounding 'no' in our ear.
Ultimately - yes, Barcelona dominated possession again. Yes, they wasted more chances, again. And yes, Chelsea rode their luck, again. But change is good, it's refreshing, it's surprising, it's entertaining - and just maybe that feeling of inevitability we have so long associated with Barcelona changed hands last night.
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