BARCELONA VS CHELSEA PREVIEW & PREDICTION
This Wednesday it will be time for the return in the eighth finals of the Champions League between FC Barcelona and Chelsea. Bigger opposites are hardly imaginable in today’s top football, but Chelsea managed to keep the dreaded FC Barcelona on a 1-1 tie three weeks ago. Can the English in the Camp Nou stand up again?
The time for harvesting has arrived for FC Barcelona. The Blaugrana are still unbeaten in their own league and now have a good result after the 1-0 victory of one and a half week ago at close striker Atletico Madrid. However, the price hunger of the Catalans is far from being satisfied, because the star formation of trainer Ernesto Valverde also draws on winning the Copa del Rey and of course the Champions League, the holy grail of every European top club. Thanks to the 1-1 draw of three weeks ago in London, the team is in good shape on the basis of outright. FC Barcelona did not get the Chelsea rearguard initially on its knees, but fifteen minutes before time, Lionel Messi finally scored against the English after a huge error by Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen.
Messi got rid of last weekend because of the birth of his third child, but even without the Argentine star player FC Barcelona had little trouble with last minute Malaga: 0-2. Luis Suarez opened the score after fifteen minutes, after which Philippe Coutinho put the final score on the scoreboard within half an hour. Obviously, Messi is back in the return against Chelsea. That is a good thing, because the number ten is again in top shape this season. Messi has been around for thirty years, but is still alien. La Pulga is not only the top scorer of La Liga, he also has the most assists behind his name. Messi was directly involved in no less than 36 of the 72 Catalan league goals this season. Sensational. Also against Chelsea Messi will do everything to claim the leading role. The little Argentinian still has an apple to peel with the English, who in 2012 thanks to a 2-2 tie in the Camp Nou at the expense of FC Barcelona placed for the final of the European champions ball. Messi missed a penalty in that match and stepped off the field crying. “The best team does not always win,” Chelsea striker Fernando Torres said at the time. FC Barcelona has therefore been warned.
The decisive phase of the season has now also arrived for Chelsea. The reigning champion of England is having a bad season and is threatening to take a fifth place in the Premier League next to a Champions League ticket for next season. Trainer Antonio Conte feels the pressure is increasing and must quickly find a way to let his team play better.
The 1-1 tie of three weeks ago in the first leg was a great achievement. Chelsea has been unbeaten for eight games in a row against FC Barcelona, something that few teams can say. The question is which tactic Conte will shake off at the Camp Nou on Wednesday evening. A week and a half ago, the Italian practice manager dared to visit Manchester City (1-0 defeat) without starting an attacker and keeping as many people as possible behind the ball. Sky Sports analyst Jamie Redknapp labeled Chelsea’s tactics as ‘a crime against football.’ However, the club from London was completely searched at the Etihad Stadium and also Eden Hazard announced not to be able to find itself in this ultra-defensive way of playing.
Chelsea has to score against FC Barcelona anyway, so I expect a bit more offensive intentions compared to the blamage against Manchester City this time. Alvaro Morata is normally the first striker at The Blues, but the Spaniard has been hopelessly out of shape for weeks. The expectation is that Morata will start on the bank and that Willian, Hazard and Pedro will form the English vanguard. Willian in particular has been in shape for the past few weeks and with five goals in his last five official matches he manages to avoid the sporting slump. The Brazilian scored three weeks ago against FC Barcelona and last weekend was responsible for the opening goal in the 2-1 won city derby against Crystal Palace.
PREDICTION: Both teams to score / YES @ 1.82