PREVIEW: Barcelona v Chelsea

The highly anticipated Champions League second leg clash between two European giants gets underway at the Camp Nou on Wednesday. The first leg at Stamford Bridge finished 1-1 in an even encounter.

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Barcelona will come into this as favourites as they grabbed an all-important away goal which will give them a slight edge knowing Chelsea will have to score. Barca are eight points clear of nearest rivals Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga and have been on good form since the last leg; winning three games from four.

Chelsea haven’t had the best of seasons as they lie in 5th position in the Premier League; four points off Liverpool in fourth. This competition is massive for Antonio Conte as it’s likely the blues manager could lose his job if they fail to qualify for next seasons Champions League. However, Chelsea can’t be underestimated as they’ve pulled off many shocks in the Champions League, especially at the Camp Nou. The main issue for Chelsea is the lack of a firepower up front. Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata are yet to impress the Chelsea boss and in the last leg Conte started Eden Hazard up front which proved to be ineffective.

Lionel Messi was unavailable for Barca’s 2-0 away win at Malaga due to personal reasons but the Argentinian superstar is set to return to the starting eleven. Ernesto Valverde will be without Phillippe Coutinho who’s ineligible, whilst Andres Iniesta, Nelson Semedo, Denis Suarez and Sergi Samper are doubtful to feature.

The visitors are without Tiémoué Bakayoko, Ross Barkley and David Luiz due to injuries, the main interest in Chelsea is who Conte starts up front, with the Italian constantly rotating the strikers.

Barcelona Predicted XI: Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Sergi Roberto, Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti, Jordi Alba, Paulinho, Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets, Andre Gomes, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez

Chelsea Predicted XI: Thibaut Courtios, Antonio Rudiger, Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen, Victor Moses, Cesc Fabregas, N’Golo Kante, Marcos Alonso, Willian, Eden Hazard, Pedro

Prediction: Barcelona 2-1 Chelsea

Edited by Sam Cox

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