After nine attempts, Lionel Messi finally broke his duck against Chelsea and denied them a crucial lead in their Champions League clash against Barcelona.
Despite the many positives in Chelsea’s performance, Messi’s goal has left Antonio Conte’s side with an uphill battle.
But what did the Blues get right?
Willian was the standout performer on the night and was unlucky not to register a hat-trick after hitting both posts before breaking the deadlock just after the hour.
This was comfortably the Brazilian’s best performance in a Chelsea shirt as he took responsibility in helping drive the ball forward when the ball was recovered in deep positions.
Conte’s approach in the first hour was spot on. Chelsea denied Barcelona space in the central areas where they prefer to play their football, forcing them to use the flanks. But for one defensive mistake, he nearly achieved the ‘perfect’ performance he planned for.
It was a great team display, in which every man did his bit. But it feels after all the work Chelsea have come away empty handed.
Where did it all go wrong?
Andreas Christensen was the main culprit for the equaliser, but not the only responsible party.
Firstly, Willian gave the ball away after some poor decision making when he had a simple pass on to N’Golo Kante. Chelsea eventually recovered possession deep in their own half before Christensen committed a cardinal sin amongst defenders by squaring the ball across his own box.
Cesc Fabregas was unable to reach the wayward pass and Cesar Azpilicueta compounded the error. The Spaniard was too rash and let Andres Iniesta in when he came rushing out. Azpilicueta is the best one-on-one defender in the Premier League and could have rescued the situation if he had only stayed on his feet.
Conte has to take a look at his part in handing the initiative over to Barcelona too. Pedro had a magnificent game for Chelsea in terms of his pressing and a lot of the possession they were able to muster at that point was down to him. But it was clear that the former Barcelona man was dead on his feet after 60 minutes.
After taking the lead and putting the fear into his opposition, Conte should have brought a forward on. Eden Hazard was much more involved once Alvaro Morata was introduced, finding the space in order to turn and run at the Barca defence, but it was far too late.
I can’t help but feel Chelsea missed a trick by opting for Hazard as a ‘false 9’, why would you opt for a system that hamstrings your best player?
Can Chelsea win at Camp Nou?
Chelsea are still in this tie but as impressive as his approach was on Tuesday night, Conte cannot go with the same approach and isn’t a natural offensive mind. Everything in the away leg needs to be geared around Hazard because he’ll be key if Chelsea are to break Catalan hearts.