Chelsea vs Barcelona: Historic meetings ensure mouth-watering tieFebruary 20, 2018
When the Champions League round of 16 draw was announced this was the pick of the bunch, not only do both sides head into the tie with commendable records but the fixture boasts an illustrious history.
Rewind six years to when the last time these heavyweights traded blows and the archives will show Fernando Torres wheeling away in celebration as he sent Chelsea through to the Champions League final in the dying minutes.
Fast forward to 2018 and Chelsea again entertain the LaLiga giants and again head into the tie clear underdogs. Despite Antonio Conte putting his side back on track with wins over West Brom and Hull City, the Italian has the odds stacked against him.
Ernesto Valverde’s Barcelona have taken their inch-perfect standards to new heights, unbeaten in 31 LaLiga matches and breezing through the group stages with no effort whatsoever, they appear to be the competition’s team to beat.
However, the LaLiga leaders will have to fare without Philippe Coutinho who is ineligible after featuring in the group stage for Liverpool and Nelson Semedo who losses out due to suspension.
Thomas Vermaelen and Ousmane Dembele are set to travel to London following their comeback from injuries, with the latter looking to compete with Paulinho for a start on the right flank.
With one Spaniard proving the difference last time, Conte may opt to recall Alvaro Morata to the starting line-up following his return to fitness for Olivier Giroud.
Marcos Alonso comes back into the home side after a three-game absence but Tiemone Bakayoko is unlikely to feature.
There are also doubts for David Luiz and Ross Barkley as the duo look to gain match fitness.
Predicted Chelsea Lineup: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian; Hazard, Morata.
Predicted Barcelona Lineup: ter Stegen, Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Paulinho, Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Suarez, Messi.