Forget the form!…Barcelona may need miracle to get past struggling Chelsea

With an unbeaten record in La Liga and a Copa del Rey glory within touching distance, Barcelona are absolutely having a great season under Coach Ernesto Valverde, but against Chelsea on Tuesday night, they face arguably their real test of the season, going by history. Crispng’s Sports editor, ISRAEL IGIRI takes a look at the much-anticipated encounter.  

One of the most anticipated last 16 clash in this season’s Champions League is the game between Barcelona and Chelsea. Both teams are familiar foes in Europe and will have their rivalry reignited when they meet for the first time in six seasons.

For the seventh time in the Champions League history, Barcelona will take on Chelsea in what promises to be an explosive and entertaining encounter. The two European powerhouses will meet first at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night before the Blaugrana welcome the defending Premier League champions to the Camp Nou in mid-match.

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On current form, the Spanish League leaders are favourites to go through, considering their great form which has seen them lost just one game across all competitions this season.

They have gone from strength to strength this season, they are unbeaten in La Liga which they should win at the end of the day, and also through to the Copa del Rey final but regaining their dominance in European football is what the team dreams of. Champions League glory which has eluded them for the past two seasons is certainly their ultimate goal, and there is no better way to kick-start that quest than against their most dreaded English opponent.

The inconsistency of Antonio Conte’s side has cost them the Premier League title and the Caraboa Cup. The atmosphere in Stamford Bridge this season is quite much removed from that of last season, as they have been unable to replicate the outstanding performances which granted them domestic success last season.

In this tie, it would take great work, composure and determination if Chelsea are to overcome the odds and stop their fancied rivals from making it to the last eight of the competition for the first time in 11 years. Although the West London side would be confident going into this tie after back-to-back victories against West Brom and Hull City, they will need a classic performance to stop a side who are not just one of the best attacking sides in Europe but also with the best defensive record in the Champions League this season, having conceded just one goal.

“In this tie, it would take great work, composure and determination if Chelsea are to overcome the odds and stop their fancied rivals from making it to the last eight of the competition for the first time in 11 years. Although the West London side would be confident going into this tie after back-to-back victories against West Brom and Hull City, they will need a classic performance to stop a side who are not just one of the best attacking sides in Europe but also with the best defensive record in the Champions League this season, having conceded just one goal.”

History tells us that the Blaugrana have always never had it easy against Chelsea. The Blues are always a thorn in their flesh. If there is any English team that has a decent record against the Spanish side, it is definitely the Chelsea. Little wonder Gerard Pique has warned his teammates to learn from experience. “Expectations in the Champions League are huge. We go out as favourites, with a chance to win. I know the atmosphere is positive, very favourable, everything looks good but I think we have to be more prudent than ever,” Pique said.

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He added that “We have learnt our lesson over the past few seasons and we know full well that one bad night in the Champions League can turn a fantastic season or a very good one, into one that is not so good. We know where we are- we are in a good position but we still need to be very careful.”

Chelsea would take positives from their last outing against Lionel Messi and co. in the 2011/2012 season. Against a Pep Guardiola side overflowing with talent and playing the best football at that time, Chelsea fell 2-0 down and lost John Terry to a red card in the space of nine minutes at the back end of a memorable first half. But against all odds, they triumphed against adversity in a display of courage and resolve that will be remembered for many years to come.

The fact that the Blues are unbeaten in their last seven meetings with the Spanish side and, have a knack when it comes to stopping Barcelona talisman, Messi, who has failed to score against the Blues in the eight games he has played against them, gives Antonio Conte great optimism ahead of this tie.

Having won six of their previous seven knockout ties against Premier League opposition, the Los Cules remain favourites to seal progression to the last eight of the competition. The brilliant form of Messi- who has scored 26 goals and has assisted 12 more for Barcelona this campaign, and Luis Suarez who has scored 14 goals in his last 14 matches gives everyone in the camp of Barcelona confidence. Conte’s men would definitely face a herculean task of stopping the stunning Argentine co.

For Barcelona to reign supreme in this tie, they would have to work hard, stay focused and avoid complacency all through the 180 minutes just as Sergio Busquets said last Saturday after their 2-0 defeat of Eibar in the Liga Santander. Knocking out a great team like Chelsea often comes with a great prize which history always reminds us of- carefulness.

“For Barcelona to reign supreme in this tie, they would have to work hard, stay focused and avoid complacency all through the 180 minutes just as Sergio Busquets said last Saturday after their 2-0 defeat of Eibar in the Liga Santander. Knocking out a great team like Chelsea often comes with a great prize which history always reminds us of- carefulness.”

Chelsea’s form cannot be compared with that of Barcelona but as history tells us, they still remain dangerous and can spoil the party once again for Barcelona with players like Eden Hazard, N’ Golo Kante and Willian, if care is not taken. A look at their last meeting in 2011/2012 when players like Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, Juan Mata, Ramirez, John Terry, amongst a host of others wrote their names in gold, despite not really doing well, is a great reminder that they should not be taken for granted. At such, Pique’s thoughts definitely re-echoes that of the great historian, Francis Bacon, who once said that “History makes men wise.”

The past can never be changed but its pain can be lessened with a victory this time around for Barcelona. And for them to take revenge on the west Londoners, they need to be very careful and learn from their past experiences against them because those who cannot remember their past are condemned to repeating it.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Fantastic piece! I tip Barca to win. I expect ververde to employ the 4-4- 2 formation which might not disturb Chelsea effectively cos recently we struggling on wide outlets. Ousmane Dembele should be given a shot in the game cos his speed will cause problems to Chelsea defensive wall.

  2. Nice piece! Barca on paper are the favourites but I strongly believe Chelsea can always cause an upset especially against Barcelona. If Willian and hazard starts & Bakayoko z given a role on the bench as a cheerleader, I’m sure we’ll spring up a surprise.

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