Can Lionel Messi score his first goal against Chelsea?
Last updated: February 20, 2018 by Leon Marshal
|Home Team Form:||DWLLW|
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|Last Meeting:||Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea|
The pick of this week’s Champions League knock-out fixtures is the tie between Chelsea and Barcelona. Both teams are experienced and successful in the competition, but come into the match in very different domestic form.
Despite the intimidating nature of this tie, Chelsea have a good record against Barcelona. They’re unbeaten in their last seven Champions League matches against them, winning five and drawing two. The teams are exactly matched in the overall stats too, with five wins and five draws apiece. But, Chelsea are clear underdogs here. While the Blues have won their last two in all competitions, their form is stuttering. Back to back defeats in the league have seen them drop to fourth, while key injuries – Marcos Alonso and Morata could miss out – will weaken them further. Antonio Conte has a plan though. Personnel wise, Conte will have to decide whether to go with Pedro and Willian supporting Hazard in the false nine role, or to play Giroud at the expense of either Pedro or Willian. The Italian claims he has been analysing Barcelona’s performances for months and has uncovered defensive weaknesses. Exploiting this is key but Chelsea could of course be at the mercy of Lionel Messi. However, the Argentinian has failed to score against Chelsea in eight matches.
While Barcelona haven’t exactly set the competition on fire so far, they are unbeaten, having come through a group containing Juventus. It’s domestically that Barca have been so strong this season. They’re currently unbeaten in La Liga and look to be running away with the title with ease. In fact, Barca have lost just once all season, with a Copa del Rey defeat their only one so far. Chelsea though, as we mentioned above, are a bit of a bogey team in the Champions League for Barcelona. Messi has never scored against them, a record that is his worst scoring record against any club he has played against. Conte has told his players not to fixate on Messi and the striker will surely enjoy a bit of freedom. Too much freedom though and he could easily bring an end to his poor scoring record against the Blues.
David Luiz and Tiemoue Bakayoko are both unlikely to feature due to injury.
Antonio Conte will also be sweating on the fitness of Marcos Alonso, with the fullback having missed a number of games with an ankle injury.
Ex-Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho will not feature against Chelsea as he is cup-tied in the competition.
Ousmane Dembélé has been passed fit for the match and could make the starting lineup.
|Chelsea (4-3-3):||Courtois, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rüdiger, Moses, Fàbregas, Kanté, Zappacosta, Pedro, E Hazard, Giroud|
|Subs:||Caballero, Drinkwater, Morata, Willian, Cahill, dos Santos, Ampadu|
|Doubtful:||Alonso, Luiz, Bakayoko, Barkley|
|Barcelona (4-3-3):||Ter Stegen, Sergi Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba, Paulinho, Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta, Suarez, Messi.|
|Subs:||Dembélé, Cillessen, Digne, Vidal, Mina, Gomes, M Suarez|
|Not available:||Coutinho, Semedo|
So Far In The Champions League
|1 (2)||Wins (away)||3 (1)|
|6 – 0 vs. Qarabağ FK||Biggest Win||3 – 0 vs. Juventus|
|2 (0)||Draws (away)||0 (2)|
|0 – 3 vs Roma||Biggest Defeat||—|
|Eden Hazard (3)||Top Goal Scorer||Lionel Messi (3)|
|Y5, R0||Discipline||Y12, R1|
|1||Failures to Score||2|
|50%||Both Teams to Score Games||15%|
|80%||Over 2.5 Goals||30%|
|20%||Under 2.5 Goals||70%|
- Chelsea came through a very tough group, but coming second gives them an even tougher fixture here. The Blues have scored in all their home games so far however.
- Barcelona have hardly set the tournament on fire, but they have been pretty ruthless. Five clean sheets in six games, including two against Juventus, shows how solid they are.
- Chelsea failed to score just once so far but they will find it difficult here. Morata’s fitness will be a big concern, while Conte also has a decision to play Giroud.
- Just one game with over 2.5 goals from Barca, along with Chelsea playing at home, seems to suggset a low scoring encounter.
Conclusion & Betting Tips
Chelsea’s form of late has brought into question Conte’s position as manager and invoked a mini crisis at the club. With the domestic title race all but over and Chelsea out of the Caraboa Cup, this is the only remaining shot at silverware this year.
Chelsea are experienced in the tournament and as difficult as anyone to beat over two legs. But Barcelona’s form and performances cannot be brought into question. With Chelsea in somewhat of a rough patch and some key players missing, we think the Blues will find it tough here. Keeping things tight will perhaps be the main goal, so for that reason, we fancy under 2.5 goals, which you can get at a great price at Titanbet.