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Revenge? Roberto Di Matteo has restored lost pride – but Barcelona too good for Chelsea . . . and so are Real Madrid & Bayern Munich!

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Blues skipper John Terry is still launted by Barca's injury time winner in 2009

Blues skipper John Terry is still haunted by Barca's injury time winner from Andres Iniesta in 2009


Winning the Champions League has become an obsession for Roman Abramovich and Roberto Di Matteo has kept the Russian’s dream alive against all the odds by guiding Chelsea into a semi-final showdown with defending champions Barcelona. But the harsh reality is that the Blues are unlikely to feature in next season’s competition unless they go on to win the tournament – and in the final four they are the rank outsiders.

Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich all have a touch of class a cut above the men from Stamford Bridge. Barca, in the semi-finals for the fifth successive season, are bidding to become the first side to successfully defend the European Cup since AC Milan in 1990 – and if they achieve that goal it will add weight to the argument that this is the greatest club side the beautiful game has ever seen.

But the beauty of the world’s most popular sport is you can never take anything for granted. And that is what makes Chelsea’s semi-final with the favourites so fascinating. It is a scenario that suits interim manager Di Matteo because the experts all agree they are the weakest team left in the competition, despite beating Benfica in both legs of their quarter-final.

No one expects Chelsea to go any further and that is what gives  them a fighter’s chance of pulling off a shock because they have nothing to lose. The Blues will also remember how they took Barca to the brink the last time they met at this stage in 2009 and the Catalans were rescued by a last gasp winner after surviving a remarkable number of strong penalty appeals.

I still expect Lionel Messi and his team-mates to progress to the final. But do not be surprised if  Di Matteo’s men push Barcelona all the way in their two-legged contest for the right to play Real or Bayern in the Final in Munich’s Allianz Arena on 19 May.

FLASHBACK: Arguably Chelsea’s greatest European triumph came against Barcelona in 2005 when  John Terry’s header sealed a 5-4 aggregate win and sent the Blues into the last eight of the Champions League. It was the night. Chelsea raced into a three-goal lead in 19 minutes, with Eidur Gudjohnsen, Frank Lampard and Damien Duff on target for Jose Mourinho’s side. Barca pulled two goals back before half-time, Ronaldinho scoring from the spot after Paolo Ferreira handled. Then Ronaldinho  scored a stunning second. But Terry’s 75th minutes strike made it a decisive 4-2 win on the night.


 You’ve got to admire Di Matteo – but success for Abramovich’s sack the manager policy would be bad for football


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Owen Hargreaves posting daily fitness videos on YouTube

Owen Hargreaves posting daily fitness videos on YouTube in a brave attempt to prove he has recovered from his crippling knee injury


You have got to admire Owen Hargreaves for the way he is still fighting to prove he’s fit to carry on playing at the top level, after being released by Manchester United following a crippling knee injury that plagued his nightmare four-year stint at Old Trafford.

The 30-year-old former England star – realesed by United in May – is posting daily videos on YouTube in a dramatic attempt to prove he has overcome the injury nightmare that cut short his career. The clips show Hargreaves doing a series of conditioning and strengthening exercises that put pressure on his right knee in an attempt to prove he is not suffering any lasting effects from tendinitis.

The Canadian-born midfielder – one of England’s strongest players at the 2006 World Cup  –  won four German titles and a Champions League winners’ medal at Bayern Munich, before signing for United for £17 million and then only making 39 appearances for the Premier League champions.

Hargreaves was famous for his amazing energy levels and battling qualities as a player at the highest level. And, like anyone with an ounce of compassion, I would love to see him make a successful comeback. If he pulls it off they should turn it into a movie because it will be football’s real-life version of Rocky.    Sporting freeviews on VISIONSPORT.TV

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