Chelsea v Barcelona: Top 3 key clashes that could decide the result
Chelsea v Barcelona is one of the last-16 stage's most exciting contests and these 3 individual battles will help decide who triumphs
Who will prevail?
If one thinks of a European contest that could be called a quintessential UEFA Champions League classic, Chelsea v Barcelona immediately comes to mind. Games between the 2 teams have been nothing short of sensational during the 21st century.
The unlikely 2-2 draw at the Camp Not by Roberto Di Matteo's scrappy battlers against Pep Guardiola's side in 2012; the infamous 1-0 defeat of Chelsea by Andres Iniesta's stunning late strike in 2009. They've met at important parts of the knockout stages and the games have delivered immense entertainment every time.
Fans of the clubs and neutrals alike will eagerly be anticipating the next meeting between them which takes place this week. Chelsea have suffered a noticeable decline since winning the league last year but Antonio Conte has steadied the ship in recent weeks.
Barcelona have had no such problems and are cantering to the La Liga title. Both come into the tie after wins over the weekend and both should reasonably expect to have a good chance of triumphing and progressing to the last-8 of the Champions League.
With world-class talent across the pitch, individual battles may just decide who wins, so this slideshow will look at 3 of the most vital match-ups that will play a big part in the overall outcome:
#3 Alvaro Morata v Marc-Andre ter Stegen
David de Gea has been roundly praised for his performances this season, but ter Stegen may be the only goalkeeper in Europe to offer a serious challenge to his position as the world's best in their position.
He has been imperious for Barcelona this season and is still only 25, meaning he could dominate at the Camp Nou for another decade at least. His ability with the ball at his feet is astounding and his reflexes amongst the best in the world.
In many a game this season, the rangy German has kept his team in games with his shot-stopping and this won't change at Stamford Bridge.
He'll most likely face a striker out of confidence but one familiar to him. Alvaro Morata has become a bit of a scapegoat for Chelsea's ailments recently, similar to Romelu Lukaku's troubles at Manchester United, without doing anything too terribly.
He missed big chances in the loss to Arsenal, certainly, and hasn't continued the scoring run he had at the start of the season, but strikers should be allowed to go through a drought. He'll remember playing against Ter-Stegen from his time at Real Madrid over the previous 2 seasons and this familiarity may be of use to him if he finds himself one-on-one with him this week.
Morata also has a good record in the competition, stretching back to his time at Juventus, and a player with 3 UEFA Champions League final appearances cannot be underestimated.