Pedro was there. He was there for 20 trophies overall. He was there for five La Liga titles. He was there for three Champions League titles.
And he was there for 2012.
So when the La Masia graduate tells the Independent what tonight’s visitors to Stamford Bridge feel like as they contemplate playing Chelsea again, the seven-year Barca vet knows whereof he speaks.
The adjectives? “Sad.” “Frustrating.” And my favorite, “horrible”.
After all, Barcelona were going for their second straight final and third in four years, with only a team in disarray and not even among England’s top four standing in their way.
“It was frustrating. This memory stays with me even now, a very sad day for me and my teammates. I remember a lot of things: when you control the game and score the first goal… but then Leo [Messi] missed a penalty and then Fernando [Torres] scored with the game’s last touch to finish the tie. I remember it all because it was such a sad day for Barcelona and for all of us.”
Pedro plays for Chelsea now and says all the right things about playing for the badge and playing with honor and pride. But he was raised in Barca football — born in Tenerife, joining La Masia at age 17 — and he brings an interesting perspective to why they tend to struggle with Chelsea.
For all Barcelona’s vaunted prowess, their great players and massive pile of silverware, they never dominated Chelsea. The bare numbers: 12 matches in the Champions League, 4 Chelsea wins, 3 Barcelona wins and 5 draws. 18 goals for Chelsea, 18 for Barcelona. In matches with Lionel Messi the Blaugrana are 2-3-5.
Here’s Pedro’s explanation.
“Chelsea were always horrible opponents, very difficult in these games: compact, strong in defence, pressed very well. For that reason, we always found it difficult against them. For the players of Barcelona, they’ll be thinking this tie is going to be very tough, this game for them, because Chelsea are strong. Chelsea are compact, and it’s never easy to play against us.”
-Pedro; source: Independent
Compact? Where have we heard that word before? Oh yes, Monday’s pre-game press conference with Antonio Conte.
“We must be ready to suffer without the ball, to be compact, not to lose our heads during the game, and then to try with the ball to do what we know. What we try and do during training.”
Barcelona’s likely starting line-up still has four key starters who went through that 2012 trauma: Messi, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets. If Chelsea keep it tight once again, they may start having flashbacks, maybe a little footballing PTSD.
Remember, remember, the Lampard-to-Ramires (and -to-Drogba in the first leg)...
There’s a lot more from Pedro in that interview; it’s worth your time to check it out. He talks about what it was like to play with some of the greats of the game — in addition to the aforementioned foursome, the likes of Xavi, Ronaldinho, Henry, Zlatan, etc. — and reflects on how even the greatest like Messi can be affected by the pressures of a given Champions League occasion, such as when he missed that penalty in 2012 ... or when he failed to score against Chelsea that one time, and that other time, and all the other times as well.
As for Tuesday night...
“It’s a special game for me. I played for so many years in this team, and I have so many friends there, and a lot of good memories, of my time at that club.”
-Pedro; source: Independent
Undoubtedly he’s hoping to create more good memories. The kind that come in a Blue shirt, of course.