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Messiazo: Spanish media celebrate Barcelona escaping Chelsea’s ‘spider’s nest’

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The view from Spain — relief and of course a touch of arrogance.

Chelsea FC v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

As you’d expect, the Spanish media were all about Lionel Messi on Tuesday for breaking his personal decade-long goal-drought against Chelsea and giving Barcelona the coveted away goal in the Champions League Round of 16. That’s hardly surprising; the British press would probably be doing the same with Hazard if he’d scored the decisive one. That’s just media media-ing (new word.)

But amid their confidence about coming home and the player’s post-match celebrations, therewas also a pronounced sense of relief.

Not only that, Messi’s goal has been directly compared to Iniesta’s late-game heart-breaker from nine years ago, with Barcelona-based Mundo Deportivo leading the charge in the callbacks. After all, the same two players were involved in scoring and assisting, albeit with the roles reversed.

As in 2009, Barcelona’s goal had plenty of luck about it. With a lucky (from their perspective) bounce (or loose ball, in this case) going their way after Chelsea were cruelly denied at the other end — this time by the goalposts rather than the referee’s whistle.

Stamford Bridge played much more to what Conte dreamed than what Valverde planned.

-Guillem Balagué for AS (via Google Translate)

There’s no doubt that part of Conte’s dream was to keep a lid on Lionel Messi. We can’t say it was mission completely accomplished, but the Spanish recognize that he was kept - mostly - out of the danger zone.

Barça have managed to get out of Stamford Bridge alive thanks to Iniesta and Messi.

-Roger Torello for Mundo Deportivo (via Google Translate)

In his match commentary, Torello emphasized “the spider’s web prepared by Conte near the front of the area.” Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde himself explained that the area was so congested with Chelsea players that he was comfortable with Messi dropping deeper to find room to operate.

“They had a defense of five and we had no interest in gathering there. If we put five players there then there would have been 10 players there and then they were going to enjoy the space. We had to protect and in this sense, we are happy.”

-Ernesto Valverde; source: AS

It fell to AS’s Afredo Releno to state the obvious — but for an error by young Andreas Christensen (possibly compounded by Cesc Fabregas and Cesar Azpilicueta) things could have been very different.

“Barca was yesterday prostrate, with Messi in low hours, brilliant Willian, hitting two shots to the post and making a goal with precision of surgeon when suddenly everything turned around, by an action of Christensen...”

-Alfredo Releno for AS (via Google Translate)

Nevertheless, the overall tone coming from the Iberian peninsula is that in three weeks Chelsea will be done and dusted. It’s a matter of history, see?

They do have somewhat of a point: Barcelona basically never lose when they’re in this position. As pointed out in MD, of the 13 times Barcelona have brought a 1-1 first leg result back home, they’ve advanced 11 times. The only time they failed to do in the Champions League was back in 1992-93 against CSKA Moscow.

Of course, Chelsea have not lost at the Camp Nou in our last four visits there, and two of those results, both 2-2 including with 10-men in 2012, would be good enough to advance the Blues instead.

Which does lend a distinct whiff of elitism — some may say arrogance — to stories such as on the one from AS columnist Afredo Releno. He suggests that yesterday’s result was a formality, as will be a home victory, because he sees Christiansen’s gaffe as “the eliminatory.” The whole thing’s an inevitability, you see, because history.

“There is something in the old big European clubs that places them above others, maybe that’s why they tend to excel.”

-Alfredo Releno for AS (via Google Translate)

What’s that about history again? Time to make some more.