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20th Feb 2018

One loose pass and one missed tackle was all Iniesta and Messi needed to hand Barca an advantage


Simon Lloyd

Make one mistake against Barcelona, there’s a good chance you’ll pay for it. Make two, you definitely will.

Lionel Messi applied the finish, Andres Iniesta was the creator, but it was two costly errors in a matter of seconds from Chelsea defenders that saw Barcelona leave Stamford Bridge with a slender advantage in their Champions League tie on Tuesday night.

Don’t pass it across your own area, we’re told as kids – yet Andreas Christensen did. Stay on your feet – yet César Azpilicueta didn’t. And with that, Barca had their precious away goal.

Iniesta read the situation perfectly. Before Christensen’s loose ball had even passed Cesc Fabregas, its intended target, he was already scampering forward in anticipation. In those precious milliseconds where Fabregas and Azpilicueta established that the defender was best placed to deal with the errant pass, the 33-year-old had eaten up enough yardage to give himself a chance of getting to it.

Azpilicueta, perhaps not realising he was still favourite to get to the ball first at this stage, went to ground. Iniesta did not. Typically composed, he sidestepped his countryman, affording himself one touch to nudge the ball into the Chelsea area, another to open up a better angle for a pass and a third and final one which saw him slide it to the edge of the area. He didn’t even lift his head, for fuck’s sake.

Messi swept home, and Barcelona had cancelled out Willian’s opener. While this may prove not to be the knockout blow for Antonio Conte’s men, the return leg in the Camp Nou will now be considerably more difficult because of it.