Salute to the Blues
Posted: May 03, 2012
IT IS A WEEK now since Chelsea Football Club knocked defending champions Barcelona out in the semi-final of the European Champions League, but I am still getting series of knocks from the legion of Chelsea fans in Nigeria for predicting that Barcelona would beat them over two legs.
The tie was going according to forecast when Barcelona scored either side of a John Terry sending off in the first half to give the Catalans a 2-0 lead (2-1 on aggregate) against Chelsea’s 10 men. At that stage, no one (except of course their die-hard fans) could see a way back for the English club as Barcelona threatened to run riot at the Camp Nou. But then, Ramires gave Chelsea a lifeline with a superb goal in half-time injury time. When Lionel Messi failed to convert a penalty kick early in the second half, hitting the crossbar instead, something told me and I Tweeted right then that destiny had decided to favour Chelsea. Fernando Torres’ last minute equalizer was only an icing on the cake. Final score: 2-2. Chelsea advanced 3-2 on aggregate.
My GSM phone line was immediately bombarded by Chelsea fans demanding an apology from me for writing them off. I had challenged them to “shut up my mouth for me” if they could and they did so emphatically with a combative performance. Stopping Barcelona with 10 men for upwards of 60 minutes at the Camp Nou is no mean feat. I salute the gallant Chelsea players and I apologise to their numerous fans for giving them little chance.
Now, no one can bet against Chelsea repeating that miracle in the final against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena on May 19. At least, certainly not me! My big mouth is firmly shut for now.
Indeed, Bayern knocked a second nail on my loud mouth when, 24 hours after Chelsea upset Barcelona, the Bavarians also dumped out Real Madrid in a penalty shoot-out at the Santiago Bernabeu after their two legs ended all square at 3-3. I had predicted a Barcelona - Madrid final, but neither of them made it through. My score was zero out of two. I’ve never had it so bad when it comes to predicting the outcome of football games.
But there’s a positive side to my double goof. Now, Soccertalk readers know that, like Lionel Messi who was neutralized by Chelsea over two legs, Mumini Alao is human afterall. A friend once told me that some readers would think that I had some super-natural powers because of my knack for making correct predictions consistently. I just laughed. Well, at least such readers now know that I have no secret powers. Only God is perfect.
Despite my apology to Chelsea fans, I think they also owe me some thanks for firing them up ahead of the second leg match against Barcelona, and for giving them a tip on how to stop Messi and Company. (See letters below).
Had I and many other pundits around the world not written off Chelsea beforehand, they probably wouldn’t have fought so hard to prove us all wrong. Congratulations to all Chelsea fans in Nigeria. Once again, I salute the courage of your team.
Football Prediction Is Fun
SOME Chelsea fans apparently took my last week’s prediction too seriously. Despite my explanations to the contrary, they sent messages accusing me of nursing hatred for their darling club.
I could have simply ignored this tiny minority view, but I decided to mention it in order to educate them. My predictions are never based on my love or hatred for any football team, but rather on their strenghts and weaknesses as I perceived them. Without taking any credit away from Chelsea, neutral observers agree that Barcelona were quite unlucky over the two legs, hitting the woodwork four times.
I recall that Gary Bailey and Andre Arendse of SuperSport also predicted that Barcelona would win; so did an English pundit in his review for an English radio station! Was that because they also “hate” Chelsea?
Football is a fun game and pundit predictions are only meant to add to that fun and get the fans talking. We don’t have to be correct all the time. Only God is perfect.
The few ignorant ones aside the majority of the Chelsea fans that sent me messages were good natured and very cultured in their language while hitting me hard. In fact, some Chelsea “fanatics” at Complete Sports who had been looking at me with a “hard face” the day I predicted that Barcelona would beat them stormed my office the day after the match to come and “yab” me to my face and force me to eat humble pie. Even my younger brother, Abdul-Azeez, delibrately wore his Chelsea shirt (which I bought for him!) at home and started doing “yanga” before me.
I could only bow and congratulate them while wishing them luck in the final on May 19. Now, for my post-game analysis of the semi-finals...
6 Reasons Chelsea Won
Confidence: I read many Chelsea players’ interviews before the tie, especially Mikel Obi and Ramires’.
They were not scared of Barcelona at all. They were ready to fight, and they fought like warriors.
Concentration: Playing defensive for 180 minutes plus against a team like Barca is not an easy thing to do. But Chelsea pulled it off with great focus.
Precision: Didier Drogba scored from Chelsea’s only shot on target in the first leg while Ramires’ first goal in the second leg was sheer class. Torres’s last minute killer was composure personified.
Petr Cech: He kept Chelsea in the tie with some crucial saves in both legs. You can’t say the same for Barcelona’s Victor Valdes who fumbled Drogba’s first leg goal and waited too long before charging down on Torres before the last minute goal in the second leg.
Luck: Even after Cech was beaten, the goal posts came to Chelsea’s rescue twice in the first leg and twice in the second. On an unlucky day, those balls could have hit the posts and gone in, especially Messi’s penalty which had Cech beaten.
lVengeance: Fate decided to avenge Chelsea’s 2009 semi-final loss to Barcelona in which Andres Iniesta scored a late, late equalizer at Stamford Bridge to cancel out Michael Essien’s first half wonder goal for Barcelona to advance to the final on the away goals rule back then. On that occasion, Chelsea played better but were eliminated after several good looking penalty calls were turned down by the referee. This time, Barca played better but fate decided to compensate Chelsea for their 2009 pain.
5 Reasons Barcelona Lost
Lack of Precision: Barcelona created enough chances over the two legs to have won the tie comfortably despite Chelsea’s defensive heroics, but they were uncharacteristically wasteful, especially in the first leg.
Fatigue: I recently analysed why Loniel Messi never seems to get tired despite playing so many games. But in the second leg against Chelsea, he and his teammates were evidently dog-tired following the exertions of their La Liga loss to Real Madrid a few days earlier. By contast, Chelsea had rested eight key players in their Premier League tie against Arsenal. The longer the second leg went, the more difficult it became for Barca to break down the Chelsea defence.
Lack of Depth: Barca missed the injured striker David Villa’s experience and composure. After Messi was shackled, the missed chances by Isaac Cuenca and his substitute Cristian Tello exposed the inexperience of the two Barcelona Academy boys in the face of Chelsea’s experienced war lords.
Hard Luck: The rub of the green did not favour Barca this time, especially Messi’s penalty that came back off the cross bar. Had that gone in for a 3-1 Barca lead early in the second half, Chelsea would have been forced to abandon their defensive strategy. Playing with 10 men and opening up the play, Barca would have destroyed them.
History: No other team had successfully defended the Champions League title. Barca have already broken several records this season, but this piece of history was just a step too far for them it proved in the end.
Real versus Bayern
COMPARED with Barca-Chelsea, the second UCL semi-final was rather muted, despite the high profiles of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Real looked well on their way to the final following two early strikes from Cristiano Ronaldo for a 2-0 lead. But the moment Bayern settled down and started passing the ball around, Real showed once again their inability to cope with teams that can hold possession. Robben should have scored before his penalty goal that made aggregate score 3-3 and pushed the tie into extra time and penalty kicks.
At that stage, it was anybody’s game and, despite Jose Mourinho’s muslim-style prayer routine at the touch line, Bayern emerged the luckier side.
Bayern versus Chelsea
My final prediction? No prediction! Both sides will miss several key players due to suspension; the impressive Ramirez for Chelsea and the promising David Alaba for Bayern, the pick of them. But this is the final and the eligible players will give us a game to remember in Munich.
I hope our own Mikel Obi can join Nwankwo Kanu and Finidi George in the record books as the only Nigerians to win the Champions League with Ajax Amsterdam in 1995. May the better side win.
Liverpool Are Coming!
I DARE NOT predict against Chelsea anymore this season, lest they use it to fire themselves up again!
It’s the 2012 English FA Cup final at Wembley this weekend and I’m hoping that Liverpool will salvage some pride for me so I can also reclaim some bragging rights from my Chelsea “oppressors.” But I can’t predict a Liverpool victory because they have been so erratic this season, blowing very hot one day and very cold the next.
If Liverpool come good on the day and win, I will “wash” it. But even if Chelsea win, I will still “wash” it with our boy, Mikel Obi. Either way, we win!
I HAVE asked Complete Sports editor Dare Esan to grant me additional space so I could publish most of the bombs thrown at me by Chelsea fans before, during and after their UCL triumph over Barcelona last week. Most letters are published unedited. Here we go...
We did it. We did it, Mumini, we did it! I told you, never write off Da Blues. – Godwin Dudu-Orumen. Football Aficionado and Chief Patron of Chelsea Fans of Nigeria (CFN)!
DEAR MUMINI. Although I wasn’t happy with your prediction on the 2nd leg semi final between Barca & Chelsea, your analysis that “any big team that challenges Barca toe-toe in open play will only come out brutalized and thoroughly beaten” was spot on. You said the only way to stop this historic Barca is to swallow your pride and defend like trojans which was exactly what Chelsea did and it paid off.
Therefore it has just re-affirmed you as one of the greatest football analysts ever produced in Nigeria. Keep up with your good work.-– CH. S. Adio Akinola, Shogunle, Lagos.
Even though you didn’t tip Chelsea to win, your expert suggestion on how to beat Barca was beautiful advice to Chelsea which we followed to the letter and it worked. For me, a Chelsea-Madrid final is a win-win (i.e. Mourinho old boys versus Mourinho new boys). Take care. – Lukman Adekanbi, Lagos.
Hi Mumini.GOD is the best analyst of this game. You have been proved wrong by His way of doing things, though I respect your comments. God of soccer is the 12th player for Chelsea in the UCL this season. Chelsea will win the Cup.– TAJU OLATIGBE, ALAGBADO.
Mumini, both Pep and you goofed. All Barca needed was to do their passes in the midfield, draw out Chealsea players then a player does the finishing. Check their 2 goals. You failed, including Big Seg and Platini to realize that Chelsea played with character and determination after AVB’s sack. –Kema Akeh.
Mumini, hope you’re now awake that blue’s truly the colour. How are the mighty fallen right in their father’s compound, with their weapons of war-Messi destroyed. – Gboye.
Mr Mumini man proposes, God disposes. Whatever God says can not be denied. Up Chelsea for life .,,,, – Isaac Owode Ibeshe Ikorodu.
Mr predictor, I believe by now you should have eaten what you vomitted in your paper rush rush. I can’t wait to lay my hands on your next article. Always Blues. – Olaoluwa from OSUTH, Sagamu
Sorry, no weapon fashioned against CHELSEA shall prosper. – From Agibah Omose
MUMINI: You have annoyed me already! David will defeat Barca Goliath tonight! Blues forever. – Most Special Apostle DR Akin Odebo JP.
Alh. Alao, the way of man is not the way of God. Chelsea is in European Champions League final. I hope you will eat your word and tender an apology to all Blue fans. – Ihejirika Chris. Kirikiri Town.
Hi Mumini, did you watch Barca v Chelsea? I hope you will be cautious in your future predictions.
There is no certainty in a match like this. I thought you know better. – Ade Olatunji. From Ijoko Ota.
Hi Mumini, l think l go with you. Barca and Real Madrid for final. and Madrid winning the Cup. What do you think is happening to Liverpool? l need your answer or l change to Chelsea. – Femi Omo Ode, Sango Ota
Listen, Mr. Mumini your prediction is not correct that Barca will defeat Chelsea. It is Bayern and Chelsea for final and Chelsea will carry the cup. Thanks. – Seun Adekoya.
Up Blues. Mr Mumini did you see good football? From, – Samson – Mushin
So now Mr Mumin. It’s Chelsea - Bayern Munich in final. What is your prediction now? – Alaje Hameed, Ilorin.
Re -Daring the Blues. You delivered facts, I must acknowledge. However, do not rule out a miracle.
Miracles are truer than facts. Was it not the same team that lost 0-1? Let’s prepare for two possible extremes: a massive Chelsea defeat (which is more likely ) or a miracle, a Chelsea triumph. I’d prefer the later. – Bro Ik, Festac
Octopus Mumini. How body be you now wey We de Blues don scatter una pundits? Blue na de colour.
Even the very skies will testify. Come follow us celebrate on May l9 final. We no dey fear anybody. Up Chelsea! – Chris,Warri.
Hello big bros Mumini. How was your day? Guess fine. I always respect your analysis & opinion on all football matters. But this time around, your prediction has failed. Chelsea have been crowned by God this year to win UCL trophy, not only to qualify for final. It will be Chelsea against Real Madrid for final. – from Mento Okon, Lagos
Hi Mumini. God of soccer had proved you wrong, nemesis has caught up with Barca. 2009 has been avenged. Messi RIP.
Sir what is wrong ? You fail to understand that Chelsea is the only team that knows how to deal with Spanish teams. Once again your assessment was wrong, you have to apologize to all Chelsea fans because we are the one buying Complete Sports most. – Azia from sango.
Mumini sorry o. The round leather game has just shown you that the best is not unbeatable. Kudos to Chelsea.
Bros, I am highly disapointed in you! WHY? If anyone had told me that you could be this biased, I will tell the person to go and have his head examined. l think the clear lesson for you and others here is that GOD doesn’t work or reason like men. lt means the so-called “OCTOPUS MUMINI” is a fluke afterall (sorry sir no disrespect). Anyway, my love for you & Complete Sports will never change. UP CHELSEA! – Laolu Olaitan, Ado Ekiti
I like a man that stands by his conviction and like you said its 50-50. But I’m sure a lot of pundits like you would have realized now that its all about having a well laid out plan for every game (which Mourinho has mastered). You have failed to give RDM some credit after having brought such to bear on a team that was almost in tatters a few months ago. Well if you call it luck,I hope it continues to tilt in our favour. Barca had theirs in 2009. – Ladi Otubu. Ikeja.
Hello Mr. Mumini your predictions won’t go right this time around. I think you will swallow your word at the end. UP CHELSEA. –BUDITINO from Lagos.
Thunder does not strike in the same place twice. At least Barca have been kept quiet for once this year. To lose 3 matches in a row: 2 in their home ground. – Tobore, Warri.
Hello Mumini thank God Chelsea won the first leg. Now about the second leg, Yoruba adage says Ara ija ni eyin wa Man proposes God disposes whether Chelsea defend or attack victory is ours Insha Allah. Up Chelsea. – Sikiru Adesoye Lagos.
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