Chelsea have lost 3 of their last 5 Premier League clashes with Antonio Conte’s job very much on the line. The Blues who romped to the title in style last year have found it difficult to get going this season with the champions losing too many matches. Their defeat last week to Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United underlines the club’s problem this season.
Conte will know that with hopes of a trophy this season looking bleak, it is vital that he maintains the club’s status as a Champions League team and gives the Blues a top-four finish at least. The boys from Stamford Bridge lost out in the semi-finals of the League Cup, they are still in the FA Cup but so are teams like Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. In the Champions League, they will have to do the unthinkable by beating Barcelona at Camp Nou and hence top four becomes a priority for Conte.
In the first leg, a classic encounter between Chelsea and Barcelona came to an end with the Blues drawing 1-1 at home. Messi finally broke his duck courtesy of some lazy defending from Christiensen and the Blues will now have to go into the second leg hoping to at least get a scoring draw at the Nou Camp.
Memories of their last visit to the Nou Camp will bring back happy faces to the Chelsea camp. A wonderful Ramires chip followed by Fernando Torres rounding the goalkeeper in the injury time saw Chelsea draw 2-2 and beat Barcelona in aggregate back in 2012. The Blues will have to produce another world-class rearguard action and also hope to get on the score sheet for this match. Here is how Conte will want to set his team up.
Thibaut Courtois will play in goal for the Blues. The defence is most likely to be marshalled by Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta.
Marcos Alonso is expected to line up at left wing back with Victor Moses expected to operate as a right wing-back.
N’Golo Kante’s return last week saw Chelsea breathe a huge sigh of relief and he will be expected to turn up in midfield next to Cesc Fabregas.
Chelsea’s star man Eden Hazard will be expected to line up on the left wing next to Chelsea’s best hope on the night in Willian while Spanish striker Alvaro Morata will be expected to lead the line for the Blues.
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