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Wednesday, 19 April, 2000, 16:18 GMT 17:18 UK
There's only one Barca
Dani celebrates his goal
Irrepressible: Barcelona have incredible self-belief
No other club in Europe enjoys the free-scoring reputation of Champions League favourites Barcelona, who demolished Chelsea 5-1 at the Nou Camp on Tuesday.

More to the point, no other side seems to enjoy the same happy ability to score more goals than you, no matter how many you score against them.

It was a triumph for Football Club Barcelona's high risk strategy - our commitment to winning and winning in style

Louis van Gaal, Barca's manager

Few clubs would have gone into the second leg of a European tie 3-1 down and had the same overwhelming confidence - and total belief of their fans - that they would run out victors after the final whistle.

But Chelsea boss Gianluca Vialli was prophetically alive to the danger that the Catalan giants posed.

"In 90 minutes they could score five goals against anybody, so we must compose ourselves and stay solid," he said on the eve of the match.

In the end it took Rivaldo, Patrick Kluivert, Luis Figo and friends 120 minutes to bury Chelsea's European dream by exactly that number of goals - but bury them they did.

Before kick-off, the crowd held up thousands of pieces of card to spell out the magic 2-0 margin that would be enough to see Barca through to the semi-finals.
Patrick Kluivert (left)
Kluivert: One of Barca's snipers

And as if by magic that was exactly what the scoreboard read at half-time, although anyone in the 98,000-strong crowd who thought that the fireworks would stop there was sadly mistaken.

Taking to heart what manager Louis van Gaal calls Barca's "commitment to winning and winning in style", Barcelona's snipers blithely put another three goals past the Blues' hapless Ed de Goey - two of them in extra time.

"It was a triumph for Football Club Barcelona's high-risk strategy," said Barca's Dutch coach Louis van Gaal.

Their strategy almost certainly did not include the howling goalkeeping error by Ruud Hesp that gifted Tore Andre Flo Chelsea's precious away goal - an improbable lifeline that came within seven minutes of seeing the London outfit into the last four.
Celestine Babayaro
Babayaro is sent off

Barca's tendency to leak almost as many goals as they score prompted Paul Hayward of the Daily Telegraph to described them as "like a posse who ride out only to leave their own homes open to banditry".

The posse took a drubbing at the hands of Chelsea in the first leg of their European quarter-final, and that opened the door for Real Mallorca, Oviedo and Atletico Madrid to each record 3-0 domestic victories over the Catalans.

But the banditry usually stops in fine style when the big occasion demands it, and Tuesday night was just such a worthy event.


Frank Lebouef
Chelsea: Beaten by the better team
"We have twice scored three goals against Manchester United and in London, we scored four times against Arsenal," said Van Gaal, while omitting to mention that Sir Alex Ferguson's side also scored three againt Barca on both occasions.

But he did concede: "At this moment, there is only one club who are in the same situation as Barcelona and they do it better than Barcelona. That's Manchester United."

In fact, United are one of the few teams that Barcelona genuinely fear.

The great shame for many football fans across the continent is that Real Madrid's win at Old Trafford means the two great teams will not now be meeting in a free-scoring Champions League final in Paris on May 24.

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See also:

19 Apr 00 | Champions League
Vialli proud of 'fantastic' Blues
18 Apr 00 | Champions League
Chelsea's European dream shattered
19 Apr 00 | Football
New 'Super-League' proposed
05 Apr 00 | Champions League
Inspired Chelsea brush Barca aside
05 Apr 00 | Champions League
Vialli: We were spot on
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