Big Match Breakdown: Barcelona v Chelsea
Daniel Anwar | 14 March 2018
The tie is finely poised at Camp Nou
It’s all to play for when Chelsea travel to Barcelona tonight.
Chelsea aren’t in great form but a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge gives them a real chance to make it into the quarter-finals.
They’ll need a high-scoring draw or a win against the La Liga leaders to get there.
Ahead of the action, the Coral News Team have all the key info…
Head to Head
Barcelona may have only lost one game in all competitions this season, but they’ve got a very poor record against Chelsea. Their most recent win against the West London side was back in 2006. They’ve not won any of the eight clashes since.
However, Ernesto Valverde’s side will be encouraged by the fact that Lionel Messi finally scored his first goal against the Blues in the last meeting. Chelsea had shut him out for a combined total of 729 minutes over eight games previously.
If Andres Iniesta is fit, Barcelona’s starting XI almost picks itself. Valverde’s one big dilemma will be whether to go with an extra midfielder in Paulinho or play Ousmane Dembele as part of a front trio.
Antonio Conte’s team isn’t so clear cut. He’s played Eden Hazard as a false nine in big games recently without much success. The Italian could give Olivier Giroud or Alvaro Morata the nod up front to allow Hazard to play in his preferred wide position. Giroud is the more likely starter, given Morata’s struggles.
Conte will also have to weigh up who to start alongside N’Golo Kante in midfield. He could go for the creativity of Cesc Fabregas or the more defensive Danny Drinkwater.
Chelsea need to score to have any chance of going through. But they sat back and barely caused any problems in their away game against Manchester City earlier this month. That approach won’t work here.
Barcelona will dominate possession like City. The visitors may find some joy on the counter here, but they’ll need to be much more proactive than they were at the Etihad.
Eden Hazard can cause real problems for Sergi Roberto on the left flank. Chelsea will look to get the ball to the Belgian’s feet as much as possible.
They’ll also want to stop Sergio Busquets from pulling the strings. He’s the starting point for many of Barcelona’s attacks. There’s only so much you can do to stop Messi, but cutting off his supply would go some way towards keeping him quiet.
Chelsea may have a good record against Barca but they’ve struggled on the road lately. They’ve lost each of their last four away games. The hosts are unbeaten at home all season and have only conceded six goals at Camp Nou in league action. Barcelona to Win to Nil is 13/8.
Messi has five goals in his last five games. He’s 13/5 to open the scoring here.
Willian got the first goal at Stamford Bridge and he’s 7/2 to score Anytime this time around. The Brazilian has been one of Chelsea’s best performers in the last few weeks.
Conte will want to make sure his team are in the game for as long as possible. But he’ll have to go for it if his side go a goal down. Chelsea to Win from Behind is 28/1.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing