Barcelona vs Chelsea preview, betting tips and predictions: Messi to inspire Blaugrana to victory again
Barcelona to win with under 3.5 goals @ 13/10 with Coral
Barcelona vs Chelsea has become one of the most anticipated European clashes in modern history, and when the Blues head to the Camp Nou for the second leg of the Champions League last 16 tie on Wednesday night, it will be no different. Antonio Conte will be hoping his side can channel the spirit of 2012, when his fellow Italian Roberto Di Matteo led Chelsea to a 2-2 draw in Catalonia and through to the final, which they eventually won. On that occasion, Didier Drogba had given the Premier League side a 1-0 advantage at Stamford Bridge, and though they come into this game slightly on the back foot thanks to Lionel Messi’s away goal, a repeat would still see them progress into the last four.
It was Messi’s first goal against Chelsea, breaking an eight-game duck spanning the majority of his Blaugrana career. Having missed Barcelona’s win over Malaga on Saturday due to the birth of his third child, the Argentine is primed and ready to help his side progress into the last eight. They have not been past that stage since they last won the competition in 2015. Stopping Barcelona running away with his tie will mean stopping an early goal; Chelsea are likely to sit deep, try to stay in the game and go for it late on. Their concentration levels were good in the first game, but they will need to be doubled here. As Messi showed, it only takes a split second for Barcelona to punish a mistake, and they should put an end to Chelsea’s latest European adventure here.
Barcelona come into this game having all but wrapped up another LaLiga title, with the win at Malaga maintaining an eight-point lead atop the table, having won a crucial home game with Atletico Madrid recently.
Chelsea, meanwhile, are still behind in the race for the Premier League top four after a run of one win in five Premier League games, but they did beat Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Philippe Coutinho is ineligible having played in the Champions League for Liverpool earlier in the season, while Nelson Semedo, Andres Iniesta, who set up Messi at Stamford Bridge and has been a consistent thorn in Chelsea’s side over the years and Denis Suarez are set to miss out through injury.
Only Ross Barkley is unavailable for Chelsea.