Barcelona 3-0 Chelsea: 4 key battles that decided the game
Despite 22 players playing, a few key battles go a long way in deciding a tie. Here are 4 deciding battles in Chelsea's game against Barca.
A lot was expected of Chelsea going into the game, as surviving in the UEFA Champions League represented their last hope of making it into the competition next season - 4 points behind fourth place and 25 points behind the league leaders is no light matter. Besides, they had history on their side.
Barcelona, however, showed no signs of letting past failures into their head, as they smashed their way through the Blues 3-0 and booked their place in the quarterfinals of the competition once more.
Despite 22 men competing on the ball, every football match boils down to a few key battles that decide the outcome of the whole affair - these could be in midfield or between the attackers of one team and the defenders of the other.
Here's a look at the key battles that decided the result of this tie:
#1 Ousmane Dembele vs Marcos Alonso
Ernesto Valverde made a bold decision ahead of the tie - to start with Ousmane Dembele down the right in a 4-4-2 formation instead of employing Paulinho as a central midfielder like in the first leg - and it paid off.
Tasked with marking Dembele, Marcos Alonso was always going to find it hard to mark the pacy winger. Combining that with his uncanny knack of cutting in and dribbling past defenders, Dembele had one of his finest games in a Barca shirt.
It was only fair that he got his first goal for the Blaugrana in this match - after a deep run from the back, leaving his marker in a cloud of dust, taking a composed touch in the box and then firing one past a diving Thibaut Courtois. Lionel Messi's jubilant hug to Dembele after the goal showed how important the goal was to him.
It was not only in attack that the French winger beat the Spaniard. Dembele was also heavily involved in defending and put in a valiant tackle to deny Alonso a shot in the second half.