Sunday, June 4, 2023

Barça and Stamford Bridge: a romance that wants to be eternal

He barca He returns this Saturday to the stadium that brought smiles and tears to him. He Chelsea open the doors of his temple, Stamford Bridgefor the semifinals of the Champions against the team led by Jonatan Giraldez (1:30 p.m., DAZN, TV3 and Teledeporte). The blue, present in every corner of the stadium, evokes those times when Barça reigned in Europe. Now it is the team led by Alexia Putellas that is going around the continent reconquering each field of play to recover the crown that eluded them last year. Against Chelsea the memories are sweet, and a lot. They won their first and only Champions League against the English team and tomorrow, the Catalans want to guide their presence in the final of eindhoven.

The line between past and present blurs between the walls of Stamford Bridge. Photographs, names, dates and trophies. Every corner of the stadium is a piece of football history, beyond the colours. Walking through the corridors of the centenary stadium, you can still hear the emblematic goal of Andres Iniesta that directed the third Barcelona Champions League. Now, the azulgranas want to conquer this same pitch again and achieve the same feat.

The Barcelona team arrives with all the troops. For the first time all season, the coach has been able to count on all the players on the squad, although Alexia Putellas has not yet received a medical discharge. “We are in a very good moment, physically because of how we have planned the whole season, because of the volume of minutes the players have in the legs, and because we have recovered all the players. We have done two training sessions with everyone available and this gives us confidence to prepare the game and me, because I have more options on the bench”, Giráldez acknowledged in the press conference prior to the game.

Training of Barcelona players. Valentí Enrich

The reissue of the Göteborg final is difficult. The azulgranas prevailed in Sweden with an overwhelming supremacy (4-0). The rout signed in less than 40 minutes by the boots Alexia, Aitana and Hansen —and with the help of an unfortunate Leupolz who opened the scoring with an own goal— left Chelsea stunned. It was the first final of the set of Emma Hayes and they paid for inexperience. Now the scenario is different, the tie is a double game and the blues they have learned their lesson. And the stadium, despite the fact that for some it is home, for others it is nirvana.

without the two stars

“It will be a match similar to the 2021 final in terms of both teams’ proposal. Chelsea, however, have much more experience than then. And they are very clear about what they want to do with and without the ball. Win against Lyon in the rooms, for the ‘what’ and for the ‘how’, has given them a confidence plus”, admitted the culé coach, who recognizes that Chelsea has changed in the last two years in which they have not faced each other. “It is a team that dominates different scenarios. It defends very well in the mid-low block and has players who are very prepared for transitions. They also know how to make different types of pressure depending on the needs. The talent of their attackers allows Chelsea to create many chances It’s not a defensive team,” he added. The bluesLike the Catalans, they do not have their great star, Pernille Harder, who has not played since November 2022.

“Barça plays the best football in Europe and we will have to be perfect,” Hayes acknowledged before the game. Chelsea reached the semifinals after eliminating the current champion, Olympique de Lyon. Equality on the pitch will be real and the possibility of a tight or negative result for the Catalans. “From half an occasion, they score three goals”, Mapi León said in an interview with EL PERIÓDICO, from the Prensa Ibérica group. Jonatan Giráldez is clear: a comeback may be necessary and the team is ready. “We have rarely been behind on the scoreboard in recent years. These are things that we work on in training to be prepared. In football, the one that generates the most scoring chances does not win, but the most effective team. And the one that best performs overcome adversity.”


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