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Blues blunt Messi as Barca vent fury at ref

BARCELONA coach Pep Guardiola said he saw no reason to change his game plan for the Champions League semifinal return leg at Stamford Bridge next Wednesday after his team played out a goalless draw against Chelsea.

Chelsea's physical play earned the visitors a 0-0 draw against a potent Barcelona team that hadn't been held scoreless since its opening match of the season in August.

"We're as clear as water, teams know how we play," Guardiola said. "We understand football as having to score goals and we'll go looking for them in London."

Barcelona's players were particularly critical of referee Wolfgang Stark's performance. "Don't talk to me about the referee. Everyone saw (what happened)," said Andres Iniesta, who was blocked by Michael Ballack late in the game. Guardiola labeled the foul as "scandalous."

"(Stark) didn't show the second yellow card to Ballack because he didn't want to," said Iniesta, who was threatened with a booking for protesting too much.

Ballack said Chelsea's strategy of containing the most potent attack in European football worked.

"We've done well because our main priority was to defend well and keep a clean sheet," the German international said. "It's nice to play offensively but the main thing is not to lose."

In particular Jose Bosingwa and Florent Malouda managed to limit the threat from the much-vaunted Lionel Messi, regarded by many as the most creative attacking player in world football.

The Argentina winger, who leads the Champions League scoring chart with eight goals - he has 34 in all competitions this season - was left isolated on the left flank. He did manage three shots, all over the Chelsea goal.

Still, Chelsea's players know that the match is far from over and that they must be wary of conceding an away goal next Wednesday.

"To not concede here is great but we know we can't concede at home with the away goal advantage," Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard said. "But I don't think there is really any advantage to either team."

Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink said his side would not necessarily have any advantage from playing at home on May 6.

"Of course we have to improve for the upcoming game," he said. "These days there is no big advantage playing away or at home so nothing is decided."

Hiddink thinks Messi will bounce back from his subdued performance. "Messi was rather well neutralized tactically tonight," Hiddink said. "It can happen one night that you stop him, but I don't think it will happen twice."


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