Man of the Match: Chelsea got good performances from all of Petr Cech, Frank Lampard, and Ramires, but for the second time in four days, their main man is Didier Drogba. While some expressed surprise he was chosen over Torres – particularly after playing late Sunday – Drogba again showed why he has to play every important game. His first half goal was the match’s only score, while his holdup play gave Chelsea’s defense their only reprieves. In the end, Drogba dropped back and joined his teammates, helping see out the last minutes from his own end.
Packaged for takeaway:
- Want to relive it? Here’s PST’s play-by-play.
- Omnipotent? At times. Perfect? No. Lionel Messi’s giveaway led to the match’s only goal, with Frank Lampard playing a quick, precise ball wide to Ramires to spring the game-winning counter.
- You’re going to hear a lot of “Barça were the better side.” Maybe, but I don’t want to hear it. Chelsea executed their plan to perfection, and although Barcelona had a number of chances to get on the scoresheet, it’s not like they bombarded Chelsea. The Blues deserve the credit for a result that played out exactly as they’d planned, even if that plan doesn’t always pan out.
- Some numbers: Barcelona had 72 percent of the possession, outshot Chelsea 24-8, played 13 shots on target to Chelsea’s three, and completed 782 passes to Chelsea’s 194. Clearly, the Catalans were capable, but going into the match, Chelsea both would have guessed the numbers would have played out this way and would have been willing to take their chances.
- It was clear early on how Chelsea wanted to play this. John Obi Mikel played in front of the defense, behind a line of four more than willing to collapse to the edge of their own box. Didier Drogba was left stranded, a gamble that paid off for the Blues.
- Barcelona has to look at Alexis Sanchez, who missed two easy opportunities, and Cesc Fabregas. Fabregas had a good game creating for others, but the couple of chances he had (while not as easy as Alexis’s) could have given Barcelona a goal.
- Petr Cech’s performance should not be overlooked. There weren’t any saves that will go in his career highlights, but given the sure number of times he was called on to make key saves or come off his line to swallow up through balls, Cech deserves to take pride in his clean sheet.
- For a team with Chelsea’s skill set, this is exactly how you have to play Barcelona. Unfortunately, it’s not a foolproof plan. Barcelona created a lot of good chances but failed to convert. It’s hard to see Chelsea being as lucky next Tuesday; however, with a one goal lead, they’ll be able to pack it in from the opening whistle. Over the last half hour of this match, it was unclear Barcelona had any idea of how to break them down. Will they figure it out, given 90 minutes?
- Getting Gerard Piqué healthy may be crucial. Tonight, they could have thrown him and Carles Puyol into the box over the last 15 minutes and tried to knock something down for Messi and Andrés Iniesta. If times get desperate next week, we’ll probably see Guardiola resort to it.
- Chelsea has six days to plug the hole between Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic. Barcelona was able to create a number of their chances through that channel. Up one goal at kickoff next week, you could see Frank Lampard play deeper in an attempt to plug it.
- It’s a great day for Chelsea, but they still have to be considered underdogs. If this match plays out again on Tuesday, Barcelona likely goes through. Chelsea has to play slightly better, but after one leg, they’re more than half-way home.
CHICAGO (AP) The U.S. women’s national team will host Switzerland for two matches this October in Minneapolis and Utah.
The matches for the defending World Cup champions are set for Oct. 19 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, and at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Oct. 23.
The U.S. team has played Switzerland just twice before, with the Americans winning both matches.
The United States is also facing Thailand on Sept. 15 in Columbus, Ohio, before playing the Netherlands in Atlanta on Sept. 18.
The team will be without goalkeeper Hope Solo, who was suspended from the team for six months following comments she made at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. The United States was ousted by Sweden in the quarterfinals for the team’s earliest-ever exit at the Olympics.
Just incase you were unaware, there’s another Pogba. And he too could be playing in the Premier League very soon.
[ MORE: Could David Luiz be making a return to Stamford Bridge? ]
While it was Paul Pogba that stole the spotlight when he returned to Manchester United for a world-record transfer fee, Florentin — his 26-year-old brother — is drawing interest from England’s top flight.
According to the Sun, David Moyes and Sunderland are launching an $8.5 million bid for the St Etienne defender as a potential replacement for Lamine Kone. The Black Cats still anticipate that Kone will exit the Stadium of Light this season after handing in a transfer request earlier this month.
Pogba has played with the Ligue 1 club since 2012 after joining from lower-division club Sedan. Additionally, the centerback has made 13 appearances for Guinea at the international level.
In a shocking twist, Chelsea could be prepared to bring back a former defender.
The Blues are reportedly lining up a bid for Brazilian central defender David Luiz, who exited the club two years ago to head to Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1. According to Daily Mail, Chelsea would pay up to roughly $41 million for the PSG centerback.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]
Back in 2014, Chelsea received an astounding $65 million for Luiz from the French champions, but he has quickly grown out of favor with the club.
New manager Antonio Conte is looking to sure up the backline before end of the transfer window, and Luiz appears to be a final effort to do that after missing out on several defenders, including Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly.
AS is reporting that Tottenham could be in for Real Madrid midfielder Isco.
While Spurs currently boast one of the youngest and most promising teams in the Premier League, Mauricio Pochettino is reportedly keen on adding another playmaker into the fold as Isco’s future in Madrid is unknown.
Isco would leave on a loan deal, and while Spurs are seen as a contender for the Spaniard, Malaga is said to be interested in the player as well.
Manchester City defender Eliaquim Mangala could be on his way to Porto after joining the English side two years ago.
According to the Guardian, the 25-year-old would likely return to the Portuguese side on loan after disappointing for the Citizens since his arrival in 2014.
With the addition of John Stones this summer, Mangala has fallen further down the pecking order with new manager Pep Guardiola.
Middlesbrough has impressed at times during its return to the Premier League this season, and now the club looks to bolster its backline as the transfer window closes.
[ MORE: Aguero could miss Manchester derby after FA charge ]
The club announced the loan signing of Arsenal defender Calum Chambers on Tuesday, providing the Boro with a promising young player to contribute in the back.
Chambers, 21, has made 58 appearances in the PL with both the Gunners and Southampton, while also earning three caps for England.
Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka revaled his excitement over the signing, while also stating that the player addresses a big need on the backline.
“I’m really pleased,” said Karanka. “It’s a position where we’ve been working towards bringing the right player in. We haven’t been in a hurry because Calum was the player we were waiting for, and he’s going to help us a lot.”