Chelsea vs Barcelona: Preview, team news, facts and score prediction
Chelsea will be hosting Barcelona at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday in their Champions League Round of 16 fixture.
Out of contention in the Premier League, Chelsea are left out with Champions League and FA Cup for the silverware. The positive result here can help Chelsea to end the season on a high. Antonio Conte's side responded quickly to back-to-back defeats to Bournemouth and Watford by defeating West Brom and Hull last week.
On the other hand, Barcelona are looking more dominant on all the fronts this season. Barcelona have reached the finals of Copa del Rey and are 7 points clear of second-placed Athletico Madrid in La-Liga. Valverde's side will be eager to end Real Madrid's dominance in the Champions League with the stellar performance this season so far.
Chelsea vs Barcelona: Kickoff information
Date: 21th February 2018.
Kickoff: 19:45 (local time), 1:15 PM (IST)
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Thibaut Courtois will be starting in goal for hosts at Stamford Bridge. In the defence, Chelsea will be without their premier defender, David Luiz as he is nursing the injury. The experienced trio of Rudiger, Christensen and Azpilicueta are expected to stand in the defence for the Blues. Marcos Alonso will be returning to the side against the Catalans.
In the midfield, Timeno Bakayako is set to miss the first leg of the clash. Ross Barkley, who missed the first half of the season due to a hamstring injury will be featuring in the clash. It will be interesting to see whether he remains sidelined or plays for the hosts.
Alvaro Morata, Oliver Giroud and Eden Hazard will be leading the attack for Chelsea against the Catalan side.
Chelsea form guide: W-W-L-L-W
Chelsea possible starting XI:
Thibaut Courtois(GK); Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Cesar Azpilicueta; Victor Moses, Cesc Fabregas, N Golo Kante, Marcos Alonso; Oliver Giroud, Alvaro Morata, Eden Hazard
The seasoned goalie for Barcelona, Ter Stegen will be continuing in goal for the Catalans. Thomas Vermaelen remains a doubt, although doctors have declared fit from the hamstring injury. Nelson Semedo misses out the clash due to suspension in the group stage matches.
Phillippe Coutinho, a cup bound player, has not travelled with the squad having represented Liverpool in the competition earlier this season. Ousmane Dembele has been declared fully fit and could feature against the North Londoners in the Champions League clash. Otherwise, Valverde has the full squad to pick from.
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi will be leading the attacking front as Valverde has favoured a 4-4-2 formation lately.
Barcelona form guide: W-D-W-D-W
Barcelona possible starting XI:
Ter Stegen(GK); Sergi Roberto, Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti, David Alba; Paulinho, Ivan Rakitic, Ousmane Dembele, Andres Iniesta; Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi.
Head to Head Stats
Matches Played: 12
Chelsea Wins: 4
Barcelona Wins: 3
* Chelsea have drawn 5 of their last 6 matches against Catalans in all competitions.
* Barcelona have kept a clean sheet in 6 of their last 7 matches in UEFA Champions League.
* Lionel Messi has never scored against Chelsea in all the encounters he has played for Barcelona.
Barcelona have lost only one match this season, against Espanyol in Copa del Rey. Unbeaten in Champions League, Messi and Co will be looking to continue their momentum. On the other hand, Chelsea will be looking to derive inspiration from Hazard's recent performances and stop the Blaugrana blues in the sizeable clash.
Chelsea 1-1 Barcelona