Chelsea vs Barcelona is one of the most anticipated games of Round of 16 Champions League games as the European football giants are set to clash the first time after 2012 when the Blues knocked out Barca to reach final.
Chelsea and Barcelona are two of the biggest clubs in Europe, but they are having contrasting fortunes this season with Chelsea struggling in Premier League and Europe while Barca are stronger than ever.
Chelsea won 4-0 against Hull City last Friday, in the fifth round of the FA Cup, in their last competitive game. Before that, the blues had won 3-0 against West Brom, last Monday, in their last league game.
In their last six games in all competitions, the Londoners have won three and lost three games. They have scored 12 goals in the process while, at the other end, they conceded nine goals despite managing a clean sheet in three of those games.
Meanwhile, FC Barcelona registered a hard-fought win over Getafe on Saturday in their latest game. This was one of the games in which the Blaugrana weren’t at their brilliant best. Nevertheless, thanks to the goals from Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba, Valverde’s side grind out the maximum points.
The five-time Champions League winners are unbeaten in the last eight matches in all competitions, winning six of those eight games. Ernesto Valverde’s side who are unbeaten in the league this season, are also yet to lose a Champions League game this campaign.
Chelsea advanced to the knock-out stage of the Champions League 2017/18 by finishing as runners-up in the Group C. The Blues were drawn into one of the toughest groups in the competition this season, alongside Atletico Madrid and AS Roma.
However, the English side, finished second, above Atletico Madrid, having managed 11 points. They have scored 16 goals in the group stages of the competition this season, only PSG and Liverpool have scored more.
Ernesto Valverde’s side are one of the four teams to remain unbeaten in this season’s Champions League group stages. They head into the knock-out stage of the competition as the winners of the Group D. The Catalans were drawn in the group alongside Juventus, who knocked Barcelona out of the Champions League last season, in the quarter-finals, while, Sporting CP and Olympiacos FC were the other two sides in the Group D.
Valverde’s men managed 14 points, having won four and drawn two games in the group stages. The Blaugrana have conceded just one goal in the competition so far, which is at least two fewer than any other side in the Champions League this season. Messi and co. finished top of their group for the 11th consecutive season, the longest run in the history of the Champions League.
Ahead of this exciting clash, Antonio Conte discussed Barcelona saying the current crop are one of the best sides in the world.
[bs-quote quote=”For this type of team, because this is a different opponent, they have fantastic characteristics with the ball. But they can have weaknesses without the ball and we have to try and exploit this.” style=”default” align=”center” author_name=”Antonio Conte” author_job=”Chelsea Manager”][/bs-quote]
Chelsea will attempt to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time since 2013/14. The Blues are winless in their last six knockout games in the competition.
This tie will be an exciting tie for Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas due to the Spaniard’s deep ties with the Catalan club.
[bs-quote quote=”Football is a fantastic thing but, when you play against each other, it changes completely.” style=”default” align=”center” author_name=”Cesc Fabregas” author_job=”Chelsea Player”][/bs-quote]
These two sides are facing each other for the 13th time in the Champions League; the fifth-most played fixture in the competition. Chelsea are unbeaten in their last seven Champions League games against Messi and co., having won two and drawn five games in the process.
However, Barcelona hold the advantage in knock-out ties as they have eliminated the Blues on three occasions while Chelsea have advanced two other knock-out ties. The Spanish side, have won only one of their six away games against the blues, losing four games in the run.
Players To Watch
Eden Hazard has been directly involved in five goals in the Champions League this season, scoring three goals and setting up two. The Belgian has scored in each of his last two games for Chelsea in all competitions.
Marcos Alonso and Ross Barkley have not trained this week due to their respective injury concerns. They both are set to miss out on the first leg.
Bakayoko is carrying a knock and is doubtful to play on Tuesday. David Luiz is also carrying a knock. He is a doubt for this fixture.
Thomas Vermaelen is back in training after getting sidelined for three weeks due to a hamstring injury. Nelson Semedo is suspended in this first leg.
Chelsea vs Barcelona Match Facts
Chelsea vs Barcelona Lineup (Predicted XI)
Chelsea Lineup (3-4-3)
Defense: Azpilicueta (RCB), Christensen (CB), Rudiger (LCB)
Midfield: Moses (RM), Fabregas (RCM), Kante (LCM), Zappacosta (LM)
Barcelona Lineup (4-4-2)
GK: Ter Stegen
Defense: Roberto (RB), Pique (RCB), Umtiti (LCB), Alba (LB)
Midfield: Rakitic (RM), Busquets (CDM), Paulinho (CM), Iniesta (LM)
Chelsea vs Barcelona Prediction
Barcelona have lost just one game in all competitions this season. Barcelona’s defense under Ernesto Valverde has been superlative this season. However, they have never kept a clean sheet at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea’s form has been up and down this season, and they come into this tie as underdogs as Valverde’s men are one of the prime favorites to win the competition.
Our prediction for this game is a 1-3 win for Barcelona.