Chelsea’s interim coach Guus Hiddink is already working on a way to combat Barcelona’s attacking prowess without a recognised left-back.
Ashley Cole’s second-half booking in last night’s astonishing 4-4 draw with Liverpool has left the Blues with a real headache when Chelsea meet the Spanish giants in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final at the Nou Camp in a fortnight.
The club’s decision to sell Wayne Bridge to Manchester City in the January transfer window and Paulo Ferreira’s subsequent knee ligament injury have conspired, along with Cole’s booking, to leave Hiddink searching within his ranks for a player capable of stopping Barca’s Lionel Messi.
“The left-back situation might cause problems but we have time to think how we might resolve it,” said Hiddink.
“Barcelona are a very advanced team with very skilful players. They know how to handle the pace. I like their philosophy of football.
“They sign players who are attractive to watch. They like to play advanced attacking football and it is difficult to play them because they are a top side.”
On an amazing night at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea almost threw away a place in the semi-finals – not once but twice.
Liverpool, trailing 3-1 from the first leg, almost pulled off another sensational European comeback as they raced into a two-goal half-time lead through Fabio Aurelio and Xabi Alonso (penalty).
But a verbal volley from Hiddink during the interval inspired Chelsea to score three times thanks to Didier Drogba, a free-kick from Alex and a clinical finish from Frank Lampard.
It put Chelsea 6-3 ahead on aggregate but astonishingly Liverpool hit back with two goals in as many minutes from Lucas and Dirk Kuyt before Lampard’s second killed off their hopes of achieving the unthinkable and gave the Blues a 7-5 aggregate win.
“We talked to them, my colleagues talked to them and sometimes you lose a bit of your temper,” admitted Hiddink. “But they react and they also knew the first-half was not okay.
“But if you give a team like Liverpool too much space then you are in trouble. We were angry because we didn’t start as we planned and we know Liverpool are a good team tactically with very skilful players.
“Tactically but also mentally we said to each other, that it was not the way we would start the second-half. That’s why I like to work with this team, it reacts.
“We knew that we could score and happily we did rather early after the beginning of the second-half.
“But you cannot stay angry because then the anger becomes frustration.
“But this was one of those games where players have made a lot of errors. That’s why it was very attractive – going from one goal to the other.”