Barcelona will be travelling to South West London to go up against Chelsea in the Champions League Round Of 16 on Wednesday. The Catalan giants are well stacked to take on a struggling Chelsea side who have lost 2 of their last 5 games.
The Blues are coming off a dominating 4-0 win against Hull City on the weekend but that would have little to no consequence on this fixture against the La Liga giants.
Barcelona were potentially written off as contenders this season after a summer exit of their star winger, Neymar. The record-breaking deal took an even bitter turn when replacement, Ousmane Dembele picked up a hamstring injury after just 2 appearances in the La Liga.
However, it is foolish to underestimate the brilliance of Lionel Messi, who has single-handedly led the attacking lineup for the Blaugrana. With 27 goals and 15 assists in 37 games this season, the Argentine is reluctant to concede any more titles to Madrid this season.
The Camp Nou side has bolstered the squad as well by signing Philippe Coutinho in the January transfer window. Toppling their rivals as the Champions of Europe is their biggest priority now that their lead has stretched to 7 points in the La Liga.
They will be eager to get the advantage over the Blues whose manager has a poor record in cup competitions.
Here is how Barcelona might lineup.
Marc-Andre Ter Stegen is club’s first choice keeper and is expected to start in this fixture in between the sticks.
Nelson Semedo has faced a lack of regular game time in recent times but might feature in the right-back role ahead of Sergi Roberto. Taking on Eden Hazard will be a massive task and Roberto does not have the pace to cope up with the Belgian.
Samuel Umtiti is expected to start alongside Gerard Pique the centre-back position.
Countering the stacked midfield of Antonio Conte’s side will be difficult but crucial to stop Chelsea from winning the 50-50 battles. Sergio Busquets is expected to take up the defensive midfield pocket behind Paulinho and Andres Iniesta.
Lionel Messi often operates from deep with a free-flowing movement pattern from the right-hand side. With Luis Suarez up top as the lone striker and Ousmane Dembele on the left wing, the Argentine will be his usual self against the English side and look to finally get the revenge for the 2011/12 semi-final. Philippe Coutinho is unfortunately cup-tied.
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