Competition/Round: 2017-18 UEFA Champions League, Round of 16 1st leg
Chelsea face Barcelona on Tuesday in the pick of the last-16 ties, with the teams rekindling old animosities for a place in the last eight.
Antonio Conte’s men are clear underdogs despite a good recent record against Barcelona, with the visitors building an all-time great unbeaten run domestically, and sailing through the group stages with minimum effort
Since Barcelona continue to run away with La Liga (even though they don’t look the most exciting team in the world at times), the Champions League is now the competition that matters for Barça fans. The league is a foregone conclusion at this point, so winning in Europe again is a must, especially because Real Madrid are winning all the Champions Leagues.
The knockout stages start with a trip to Stamford Bridge for the first leg of the Round of 16 against Chelsea, and this is without a doubt the biggest game of the season for both teams. Chelsea have no shot at winning the Premier League and Antonio Conte is almost definitely gone at the end of the season, and having not won the Champions League as a manager the Italian will no doubt be looking to go out with a bang.
Ernesto Valverde will probably win a title in his first season, but the chance to lift the European trophy after that horrible Spanish Super Cup will surely be the perfect ending to what looked like a terrible season. Plus, beating Chelsea is always fun for Barça fans, and beating Barça is always fun for Chelsea fans. This is a HUGE game, and it’s the biggest test the Catalan giants have faced. How will they do?
Barcelona (4-4-2): Ter Stegen; Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Paulinho, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Suárez
Chelsea (3-4-3): Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Cahill; Moses, Kanté, Fàbregas, Alonso; Pedro, Morata, Hazard
These two teams are extremely similar in that they love to defend and be brutally efficient with the ball, so it’s hard to see anything other than a draw, but it’ll be a very good one for Barça: 2-2, with two away goals.
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