Barcelona and Chelsea have a long history in the Champions League, and their head-to-head meetings are pretty evenly matched. The two will meet once again in the round of 16, with the first leg being played at Chelsea.
What To Know About Barcelona
Barcelona won Group D with four wins and two draws in their six games, scoring nine goals and allowing just one. Lionel Messi scored three goals to lead the way and Barcelona is still very reliant on a player who is still one of the very best in the world. Luis Suarez played in all six games and failed to find the back of the net, and that is something that has to change as he returns to England, where he played for Liverpool. However, Barcelona has quietly been getting better and better; they didn’t even play up to their standards in strolling to the top of the group, which should be worrying for Chelsea.
What To Know About Chelsea
Chelsea finished second to Roma in Group C, scoring 16 goals, but they allowed eight in three wins, two draws and a loss. Eden Hazard scored three goals to lead the way for Chelsea, and the Belgian playmaker is usually at the heart of all of Chelsea’s moves going forward. Chelsea will also have a healthy N’Golo Kante as he played just four of Chelsea’s group-stage games, and his ability to dominate the centre of the pitch is crucial to what Chelsea likes to do. It takes the pressure off their back three, and it also gives Cesc Fabregas a chance to dictate tempo from a deeper role. Alvaro Morata scored just one goal for Chelsea in the group stage, and he would love to get a couple against Barcelona as a former Real Madrid player and a Madrid native himself.
Barcelona is favored at +105 away from home in the first leg of this tie, with Chelsea coming in at +250 and a draw is rated at +240. Each team has won five and drawn five of their 15 meetings, and their last meeting in the Champions League came in 2012, when Chelsea edged Barcelona 3-2 over two legs in the semifinals; they would go on to win it all. There will be matchups all over the pitch to watch as Chelsea has to figure out how to slow down Messi, because if you can stop him from getting the ball, Barcelona tends to look stagnant. Barcelona has to do the same with Hazard, and it’ll be interesting to see if the teams man-mark their opponent’s star man. Also, you have to wonder how open Chelsea is going to be about scoring because if they go too far forward, that leaves things wide open for Barcelona to get an all-important away goal. This is going to be a fascinating matchup to watch over two legs, starting with the first game in London. Chelsea has to be aggressive, but careful and it is a fine line against a team like Barcelona.
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