After he retired from professional football, former Manchester United player Gary Neville has taken to enlighten football enthusiasts with his expert views and analysis as a match analyst on Sky Sports. Neville had plenty to say about the upcoming clash between Chelsea and Barcelona in a piece for The Daily Mail and let’s just say that he wasn’t really optimistic about Chelsea’s prospects of coming through even if they took a two-goal lead to Camp Nou. Apart from praising the many virtues that make the Barcelona a truly great team (“The level at which this Barcelona side relentlessly close down opponents high up the pitch is something I’ve never seen before. They win the ball back with the speed of a gun“), Neville also noted the three circumstances in which Chelsea could win the match but then again admitted that the chances of either of them materialising was next to nil.
Wrote Neville, “I don’t want to appear overly pessimistic about Chelsea’s chances, but one of three things has to happen for them to have a chance in this tie — and none of them is directly in their control. First, Messi could get injured and be unable to play. Secondly, Barcelona could lose their discipline and get someone sent off. Thirdly, Barcelona are totally distracted by the ‘clasico’ league game with Real Madrid that takes place between the two legs against Chelsea.”
Excerpts from Neville’s piece after the jump.
“They will have to make it an English-style cup final, try to use their physical presence against a smaller Barcelona team. That’s why I’d start with Didier Drogba and try to exploit set-pieces.”
“The problem is that even if Chelsea win by two goals on Wednesday, I can’t see Barcelona not doing what they need to in the Nou Camp. That pitch feels huge and they utilise every inch. Messi is unplayable and Chelsea will have to stop the best three midfielders in the world, Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas, to stop him getting the ball.”
“Messi will sniff out where Chelsea are weakest and play in those areas. He might try to find space between John Terry and David Luiz because Terry is not the quickest and Luiz is suspect to diving in.”
Neville discusses many other aspects of Barca’s game and even revisits the matches between his club and Barca. Do read the complete piece here.
Source: The Daily Mail; Image credit: Michael Regan/Getty Images