Logistically it'll probably by a bit of a hassle, especially since I intend to bullet point the posts initially by the real-world time, then by the amount of in-game time elapsed after the game begins.
And with that:
18.44- Chelsea team announced. Line up with strong team, plenty of experience and running in the midfield. Torres' guile and blossoming relationship with Mata is preferred to the man-shaped battering ram known as Drogba. And with his increasing confidence, this could cause Benfica some real problems.
18.55- The more I look at the team for the night, the more I like EVERY selection. As much as it pains me to say it, Mikel has actually been good the last few games, and may FINALLY be growing into the "Makelele" role. Ramires has been a sensation, and should again provide the drive from midfield. Luiz is increasingly looking like a central defender, and less like a drunk child. And while Sturridge provides more thrust and cutting edge than Kalou, that's not what's needed tonight. Kalou has performed in big games before, and all he needs to do tonight is perform. Nothing more, nothing less.
19.00- That said, wouldn't have complained had Meireles been preferred to Lampard. Lamps has shown little lately. Surprising. I'd wanna impress Christine, lest she be wooed by young Tiger offa Outnumbered
19.03- Reading than Benfica are missing Jardel and Luisao, their starting centre-halves. Swish.
19.30- I return from the offy, lovely Buds in tow. There's another game on tonight, but frankly I don't know enough about either team, nor will I be paying enough attention, to do it justice, so it'll be mostly ignored.
19.31- So the winner of this team are rewarded with facing the best player in the world, and, in my opinion, the best player in history. Still, I think that Barca are a beatable team. A long while ago now, but the performance of the 2005 side beating Barca 4-2 will be in the hearts and minds of players and fans alike, should the team progress.
19.36- Getting nervous. After some of the lows this season, a Champions League semi would be huge.
19.39- Not sure what to make about Di Matteo's prospects as permanent manager. While his grounded nature is what the team needed in the short term to improve individual performances and particularly confidence, I'm not sure that he's either strong enough, or experienced enough, for the long term. Kinda feel that he's letting the players take charge again, and that's not a sustainable model for management.
19.43- O'NEILL PREDICTS THE FUTURE - score draw.
2mins - Benfica have had FAR too much posession. They have too many dangerous players, players who can hurt you WITHOUT being handed the ball on a plate
7mins - Chelsea's first sustained period of pressure results in a corner. Benfica have 11 men in the box, and only a determined block from Capdavilla prevents David Luiz's powerful shot from testing the goalkeeper. After a cagey opening few minutes, Chelsea finally begin to assert themselves
11mins - BALL IN THE NET! Unfortunately, Juan Mata is correctly flagged offside. Still, great finish. Seconds after, Pablo Aimar SKIES a shot. Luckily for him he has deadly hair -
15mins - Absolutely beautiful break from their own box, with no Chelsea player taking more than 2 touches. Unfortunately comes to nothing. SCORE A GOAL, DICKS.
18mins - Ball almost runs through to Gaitan, only stopped by Cech coming out from the box. That's the worry, a goal from a silly mistake like that and the complexion of this game changes entirely
19mins - PENALTY TO CHELSEA!!
20mins - GOAL, FRANK LAMPARD CONVERTS THE PENALTY! Although the 'keeper definitely could have saved it. Not SuperGoals' best penalty, but it's in the back of the onion bag, and that's all that counts. That's right, I'm gonna drop HARD clichés on all your dicks. As for the awarding of the penalty, the referee had no other choice. Surging run from Assley Cole stopped with a body check from Javi Garcia, who made zero attempt on the ball. STONEWALL
24mins - David Luiz showing why he's viable as a defender, making up 4-5 yards on Gaitan to pinch the ball away from Gaitan in a race, mano-a-mano. Probably to the death
25mins - CHANCE! Torres races clear onto a ball that really should have been cut out, but is caught in two minds, and his cross is too late and behind the onrushing Chelsea players. Put out for a corner which comes to nothing.
29mins - Benfica free kick, 30 yards out. Well worked, Benfica win the second, third and fourth balls, and only a block on the line stops the equaliser on the night. Shocking defending though
36mins - Benfica look to once again pressure the Chelsea defence, but are unable to fashion any clear-cut chances, hence my radio silence for a few minutes. Readers are sure to be appreciative. Chelsea simply CANNOT afford to sleep on this team. Aston Villa scored two in quick succession at the weekend, and are an inferior side to this one. #NEVERFORGET
39mins - BENFICA RED CARD!!! Came outta nowhere, and foolish. OH WELL.
SECOND HALF! Had a kebab in the interim there. For the record, from Spice Fusion, and the first I've had in a long while that can be mentioned in the same breath as the Herculean Bengal Spice.
45mins - Benfica again start the half quickly, but the ball is soon at the other end of the pitch, then deflected wide from a Kalou shot for a corner. Johns Terry meets it, but the (occasionally deadly) Chelsea skipper can't get over the ball, and nods harmlessly over.
47mins - Cardozo forces a very good save from Cech, the ball wickedly bending from his left foot shot as he lost his balance. Seconds later, the ball is in the side netting, Cech covering it well. SECONDS AFTER THAT SHIT, Kalou's cross-cum-shot is almost turned in at the far post, but Ramires can't make a meaningful connection, in spite of it looking like my granny could have scored.
52mins - Cardozo hits it from the halfway line, seeing Cech off his line. Instead of scoring, he is a dong
52mins - OOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHH FERNANDO, HOW DID THAT NOT GO IN????????????
It was deflected, that's how. Torres looking dangerous again.
55mins - Some gorgeous interplay between the two best Spaniards forces a good save by Artur from Mata, and Torres can't quite contort to force in the rebound. Maybe should've gone with his left foot. Honestly, I'd just have thrown my whole body at it
64mins - BALL WATCHING IS RIGHT, ANDY TOWNSEND! Chelsea looking complacent. AND THEY NEED TO TAKE SOME OF THESE FUCKING CHANCES!
69mins - Mata fires just wide after being released by Kalou. Been impresssed with Kalou tonight, but now is the time to replace him with Daniel Sturridge. Chelsea can't afford to be content with this score, and Sturridge can provide the pace and directness to trouble the tiring Benfica defence. In particular, stand-in centre-half Javi Garcia has not been run at NEARLY enough for my liking. Kirsty points out I'm using a lot of capitals
72mins - Poor defensive work on two fronts - not closing down Capdavilla for that cross, and Djalo winning that header unchallenged. Too many tendencies from earlier in the season persist
74mins - Kalou shoots inches wide (happened so many times tonight), and instantly Cech has to make a good save from Olivera. Game getting very stretched. BRING ON STURRIDGE!
78mins - Mata off for Meireles. Actually kinda fancy him to get a goal.....
MERIELES HAIR = STRONG
83mins - Why is Cech wearing a white top and kinda wine coloured shorts? I AIN'T NEVER SEEN THAT. After I notice this, I also notice he gets a fantastic fingertip FUCKING CUNTS SCORED
Absolutely shocking. SOMEONE needed to attack the ball there. Someone that wasn't Javi Garcia. Left unmarked, and Cech didn't move, there was no way he wouldn't score. One more Benfica goal and they go through. MERIELES YOU USELESS, STUPID HAIRED, DUSTY DICKED MOTHERFUCKER, WHAT WAS THAT?? Drogba is coming on.
87mins - Benfica are absolutely bossing it. All Cardozo needed to do was play the ball back across the box and another goal was inevitable. Drogba on now, hopefully he can win some of the aerial battles and hold the ball up. At home against 10 men, holding on until the final whistle is not good enough.
89mins - Kalou gives the ball away carelessly just outside his own box. Made too many careless decisions tonight. Should have scored at least 2
FULL TIME - CHELSEA 2 BENFICA 1
So, there it is. From a commanding position at the end of the first half, Chelsea still almost snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Before the game, I had thought that an upset was possible, but unless an exponentially better performance comes in the next round, Messi and his crowd will rip that team to shreds. Faced with better pressing, passing and finishing, a performance anywhere close to as careless as that will result not only in failure, but humiliation.
Leo's probably licking his lips.