This is perhaps the biggest of the second round matches in this season’s UEFA Champions league, asides the fixture of holders Real Madrid vs Psg.
Antonio Conte and his men finished second in group C behind Roma, the only English premier league team not to finish first, and they are to face the consequence of this by drawing regular favorites, Barcelona of Spain.
As the first of the two legs encounter takes place at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, 20th February 2018, we look at both teams’ chances of progressing to the next round. Examining the last ten meetings between these teams, Chelsea could be said to be the most favored to progress as they won 3, drew 5 and lost 2. The last time both sides met was on 24th April, 2012 in an encounter that ended in a 2-2 draw with Chelsea going on to win the trophy that season, their first ever in the competition’s history.
Looking at each team’s performance in their last six games, in all competitions, there is a tilt towards Barcelona who have won 4 and drawn 2, as against Chelsea’s 3 wins and 3 losses. Although in a more recent run (in February), Chelsea have a LWW run while Barcelona have a WDW run, so you could say it is a balanced chance for both teams.
Now looking at the players in this encounter, one could easily give it to Barcelona if individual strength is to decide. Considering what players like Messi, Suarez, Coutinho etc are capable of. It is worthy of note though, that Messi has never scored against the Blues despite having played them on eight occasions. Chelsea also have some individual brilliance in players like Hazard, Fabregas, Kante etc. In the last six matches, Chelsea have conceded 9 goals, as against Barcelona’s 2, which could mean that the Catalans are better defensively. In the attack however, Chelsea have shown more promise in their last six games with 12 goals in all competition, as against Barcelona 8 goals.
If playing at home is an advantage, Chelsea could be favorite to win this encounter, having won 2 of their last 3 home games. Barcelona too have been very good on the road, winning 2 and drawing 1 in their last 3 away games, so Chelsea have to be mindful of the threat they pose.
From the foregoing it would not be unsafe to predict a win for Chelsea tomorrow at Stamford Bridge, and that is the best they can do for themselves, in order to be in a strong position when they visit the Nou Camp on Wednesday 14th March, 2018 for the return leg.
PREDICTION; Chelsea- 1 vs Bacelona- 0
BY OLUWASEUN LONIMI BABATUNDE
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