English champions Chelsea were the only one of the five English sides in Monday’s draw for the last-16 who finished second in their group, with their ‘punishment’ for that being a tie against the five-time Champions League winners.
Chelsea will meet Barcelona for the 6th time in the Champions League knockout stages; only Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have met on more occasions.
Chelsea will host Barcelona at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday February 20,2018. Chelsea’s coach, Antonio Conte says his side is positive and ready to face Barcelona. “It’s a draw, our reaction must be positive as you know very well, when you are in this stage, you must be ready to face every team. In this case, we must be ready for Barcelona” said head coach Conte in a news conference ahead of Tuesday’s Premier League meeting with Huddersfield Town.
While it seems implausible as it stands that the current unstable form Chelsea side could negotiate a tie against the current Spanish la liga leaders, there are reasons to be optimistic for the Blues should the dreaded draw conjure up this pair later in the season.
Alvaro Morata’s Goal-Scoring Record Against Spanish Clubs
So Alvaro Morata has not started spectacularly after his big money move from Real Madrid. But the Spaniard holds an impressing goal-scoring record when playing against Spanish teams. He scored against Real Madrid and Athletico Madrid playing for Juventus and Chelsea respectively.
With the added wizardry of Eden Hazard to come and the mercurial Fabregas to make an impact, Conte should be able to get an already sharp and (somewhat) confident Morata to fire Chelsea to success again.
Barcelona, Right Full back’s Vulnerability at Defending Wide Areas
Sergi Roberto and Samedo are in the mix for best right backs (if you can call him that) in the Europe, but he have their limitations. Both players have been masquerading at right back for sometimes now with difficulty in defending wide area.
There have been signs in recent weeks that managers are beginning to discover a mere smidgen of success by attacking down Barcelona’s right flank. With Messi hardly willing to work back, Sergi Roberto often leaves his position exposed
Chelsea’s Pedro or Willian could experience plenty of joy in that position, especially with Marcus Alonso ever willing to support.
Under Abramovich, Chelsea’s Superior Champions League Record vs. Barcelona
Chelsea must be one of the only sides in Europe to hold a superior head to head record against Barcelona in the modern era.
In the last eight meetings each side has won two apiece and there have been four draws. But crucially, Chelsea has scored eleven in those matches while Barcelona have only scored ten.
Not a clear margin of superiority, but nonetheless you would not expect anything else should these sides meet in the Champions League knock-out stages.
Chelsea’s Bad Luck with Officiating vs. Barcelona Can’t Continue, Surely?
Some argue it is sour grapes, but when something persistently goes against you, Chelsea has every right to feel hard done.
Refereeing decisions have been dubious ever since these two great clubs sparked a furious rivalry when José Mourinho was at the Stamford Bridge.
It is widely known that Barcelona has yet to beat Chelsea in the Champions League when the Blues have had 11 men still on the pitch.
Chelsea suffered blatantly wrong decisions when Didier Drogba and Asier Del Horno were sent off in 2005 and 2006 respectively.
All this without even mentioning the biggest conspiracy of recent times in European football when Tom Henning Ovrebo refused to award Chelsea a penalty on that fateful night at Stamford Bridge in May 2009, despite numerous legitimate appeals.
Yes, Chelsea should not expect the opposite, but a tie without controversial refereeing decisions would go a long way to highlighting the fact that Chelsea, under both Hiddink and Mourinho have tactically outsmarted Barcelona and could legitimately argue a case for an unjust exit from the competition.
Chelsea full of confidence
Antonio Conte, with the defensive record and tactics he has can get a result against Barcelona especially after beating Athletico Madrid and Chelsea in recent years getting good results at Camp Nou gives the team a lot of confidence ahead of the tie in February 2018.