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Monday, February 20, 2006

Chelsea - Barcelona: The Revenge game?

Chelsea FC will face a strongly motivated Barcelona, with Ronaldinho in his best shape. The Champions League game will take place on Wednesday.

In fact controversy surrounded both legs of last year's clash, which Chelsea won 5-4 on aggregate to reach the quarter-finals. Chelsea reached the semifinals but lost to eventual winner Liverpool.

"It will be harder because they're going to want revenge, they need it" Chelsea player William Gallas said. "When a team is hurt, they want to show their fans, and the whole world, that what happened last year was an error."

Both sides went on to win their respective leagues last year and will most likely repeat this season.

This time, Chelsea hosts the first leg Wednesday (TV, Wednesday midnight ET on tape delay). Last season, Barcelona had a 2-1 home-leg advantage then rallied from 3-0 down only to lose 4-2 at Stamford Bridge.

"I think it will be even harder this year. We're going to have to be very focused the whole 90 minutes of each game," Gallas said. "It could turn on the slightest incident."

Experts believe that includes the coaches. Last year, the behaviour of Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho - a former Barcelona assistant - almost overshadowed the result.

Indeed, Mourinho accused Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard of colluding with referee Anders Frisk at halftime of the first leg. Frisk received death threats and retired, while Mourinho, who was labelled an "enemy of football" by a UEFA official, was suspended for Chelsea's quarter-final games against Bayern Munich. Terje Hauge of Norway will referee the first leg, UEFA announced Monday.

During the match at Stamford Bridge, Rijkaard and some of his team actually argued and scuffled with Chelsea's security staff.

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