The plethora of lessons dished out by Barcelona on Wednesday night at Stamford Bridge would have enlightened any student of the beautiful game.

The Catalans' monopolisation of possession, as well as their passing and moving game, often proved irresistible at times for Chelsea even though the finishing touch evading them at the crucial moment.

Cesc Fabregas, Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquests were all unable to cap an exhibition of football in west London. Chelsea merely played a bit-part in the evening's entertainment, but enough of one to secure a first-leg lead.

However, where the Barca players failed to put the cherry on top of their souffle of a performance, their manager came to the rescue to deliver a post-match press conference which put the performance of his players in the shadow.

Even the most permanent King's Road tenant couldn't deny Barca of their status as the evening's dominant side. During prolonged periods of the second-half Victor Valdes was the sole custodian of the Barcelona half. Carlos Puyol, Barca's last line of defence could have played Chinese whispers with Petr Cech.

Many will point to those possession stats, 78% over the 90 minutes, as a justification that the visitors deserved to win, and that they were even robbed by a Chelsea side who refused to buckle, nor search for a second goal.

"It's football," Guardiola said. "It's not a question about fair or unfair.

"Congratulations to Chelsea. We'd win every game if it all was about possession of the ball because our average is more than our opponents. But the most difficult thing in this game is putting the ball in the net, and that's what we couldn't do this evening.

"We have to focus on the next game now and try and create the same number of chances. It won't be simple. They'll have 10 men behind the ball, they'll defend, they're stronger than us, they run, they jump more than us.

"But we have to try and take the game under control and discover a way of scoring the goals."

The comments are nothing less than you'd expect of a manager whose classy personality is as admirable as his managerial expertise.

Had a similar encounter unfolded in the Barclays Premier League, which unlike in La Liga and the Champions League, prides itself on it's no-holds barred attacking make-up, then the big-wigs of the top flight would have blown a gasket.

Being very much in the Barcelona mould, as they attempt to grind down their opponents with their passing game, Arsene Wenger has regularly criticised sides who adopt tactics akin to Chelsea's last night, with the aim to stifle his Arsenal side.

"It is a result. It depends what you call fair," Wenger said of Sunderland in 2008, following a 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light.

"I believe if you take the possession and the initiative, it was all us. But they defended with great spirit and were resilient for the whole game. I like to think usually the team that takes the initiative should be rewarded, but it is not always like that in football.

"They gave us the ball and said, 'Listen, we are happy with 0-0, do what you want' and the story of the game was they didn't only almost get the 0-0, they almost won the game. It was a frustrating day for us, because we didn't create the chances we usually do - and I must say Sunderland defended very well."

During his days at Chelsea, Jose Mourinho, who hasn't been adverse to defensive tactics in the past, himself has lashed out at sides who have sat back during his Premier League tenure.

"As we say in Portugal, they brought the bus and they left the bus in front of the goal," he levelled at Tottenham Hotspur in 2004.

"I would have been frustrated if I had been a supporter who paid £50 to watch this game because Spurs came to defend. I'm really frustrated because there was only one team looking to win, they only came not to concede - it's not fair for the football we played.

"They fell as if they were dead and for five minutes each time, five more minutes when they change a player and they did this all the time. This is a difficult league with everyone losing games. Maybe even Tottenham will lose a game defending with 11 players."

Barca's 41-year-old boss would have been forgiven for attacking their English counterparts for their ultra-defensive guise, with little ambition shown, especially in the second period; but he refused.

Instead, he showed as much style in front of the cameras as his side had in front of the flashbulbs, and in turn produced the perfect end to an enthralling night of football.

As it turns out, Barcelona didn't need to score to show why they're quickly capturing the hearts of football followers across the globe. In addition, regardless of what you saw from the team on the pitch, and the various tactics they might use to win a game, Guardiola stands out as the club's prime asset.

A schemer of opponents' demise, a genuine ambassador for the game and a decadent demeanour in defeat all rolled into one. Masters in their own field, but even Ferguson, Wenger and Mourinho could learn something from Pep.

Topics:
#European News
#UEFA Champions League
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