En route to the Champions League final, Chelsea FCW hardly put a foot wrong. Unfortunately, the Blues hopes of securing their first UWCL trophy were all but gone within twelve minutes of the opening whistle. The majority of the match was played with the Blues stunned, down multiple goals and watching their European dreams fade to dust. Chelsea found their feet a bit in the second half, but at that point, they were down 4-0 and die had been cast.
Barcelona’s dominance was on display from the opening whistle. Just seconds into the match, Chelsea’s woodwork was rattled by a Barcelona shot from the edge of the box, centimeters from opening the scoring. Unfortunately for Chelsea, the one bit of good fortune they had in the match didn’t even matter. As Chelsea attempted to get the ball out of their box, the intended clearance came of Melanie Leupolz and looped over the outstretched hand of Ann-Katrin Berger to put the Blues behind 1-0. It may have been a bit unlucky for the Blues, but the damage was just beginning.
Ten minutes later, Barcelona caught another break. This time, Jennifer Hermoso was awarded a penalty after she appeared to kick Melanie Leupolz on the followthrough of her shot. VAR has hardly been a friend to Chelsea and today was no different, as the call stood, despite multiple replays seeming to confirm it was Hermoso that kicked Leupolz. Regardless, the penalty was cooly converted and Barcelona were firmly in control 2-0.
Goals three and four weren’t far behind for Barcelona. Aitana Bonmati finished an wonderfully worked team goal for number three, before Lieke Martins casually strolled down Chelsea’s left flank and made the simplest of passes for a tapped in finish. At 4-0, any remaining hope was gone. The Blues had been shellshocked in the same fashion they had done to so many other teams this season.
The second half saw a better performance from Chelsea, but the pattern of play become entirely predictable. With a massive advantage, Barcelona had no incentive to spread themselves thin against a Chelsea team desperate for goals. Chelsea were forced to try and break down a compact Barcelona, who continued to look dangerous when springing counter attacks against Chelsea. The typical electric connection of Harder, Kerr, and Kirby never sprang to life. Each had chances to score a consolation goal for Chelsea, but a goal felt more and more unlikely as the match wore on.
Make no mistake, this is a massively disappointing day for Emma Hayes and Chelsea, but this is not the end of the road. Barcelona were served a similarly lopsided defeat by Olympique Lyonnais in the 2019 UWCL final. That loss has served as a focal point for this Barcelona team as they’ve worked to avenge that 2019 loss. No doubt today will serve as a similar rallying point for Chelsea as they reload for next year’s competition.
- Wow. There are worst case scenarios and then there are WORST CASE SCENARIOS!!!!! This was definitely the latter. Even the most ardent Barcelona fan would not have seen this match being out of sight within 30 minutes. Bad luck, poor referring (VAR), but most of all, poor play combined to dash Chelsea’s hopes from kickoff.
- Fire VAR into the sun. It had absolutely nothing to do with the result, but after this weekend, Chelsea fans are going to have PTSD just seeing those three ugly letters on the screen.
- As it turns out, fullbacks are pretty important to a football team. Ever since Maren Mjelde was injured for the year, Chelsea have been patching together a defensive lineup. Jess Carter and Niamh Charles have performed admirably in previous matches, but were completely outmatched today. Niamh Charles was particularly abused by Lieke Mertens, who operated on the left flank as though Charles wasn’t on the pitch. Not a criticism of Charles, since she is a 21 year old winger being asked to play fullback in a Champions League final, but the fullback position needs to be addressed for next season.
- Barcelona did an excellent job of diffusing the Kerr-Kirby threat. As much as anything, they kept them from having space to operate in and kept them from building any rhythm. Pernille Harder found some space early and missed an amazing chance to level the score at 1-1 just three minutes into the match. Had she been able to level the score, its very possible the match plays out entirely different. Coulda shoulda woulda.
- The Blues midfield looked uncharacteristically sloppy, particularly early in the first half. Ji So-yun looked particularly out of sync, giving the ball away in dangerous positions again and again. Credit Barcelona for making Chelsea uncomfortable in every way. Melanie Leupolz was also unusually ineffective, before being subbed off for Guro Reiten at halftime.
- Next Up: The Blues take on Everton Women in the quarterfinal of the FA Cup on Thursday, May 20th, before the final rounds of the competition are paused until next fall.