Chelsea vs Barcelona: Key battles to look out forFebruary 20, 2018
With the 2012 semi-final defeat still fresh in their memory, Barcelona travel to Stamford Bridge for their round of 16 Champions League clash against Chelsea with the hope that they can eradicate the late heartache imposed by then striker Fernando Torres six years ago.
In doing so, we have take a glance at what toe to toe battles should to look out for?
Eden Hazard vs Lionel Messi
Football is all about entertainment and witnessing star players doing the impossible, in Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi we should have just that.
Hazard has rekindled the form that made him a household name all them years ago and his 18 goals in all competitions for club and country this season has led him to being compared to his opposite number.
Six goals in his last six games for Chelsea, Hazard is seen to be the main threat to Barcelona’s back line.
However, if he is to finally match the heights Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi have attained, then succeeding on the world’s greatest stage is the only way to do it.
For Messi, he is yet to score against Chelsea despite recording 16 goals in his last 14 Champions League ties against English opposition.
The Argentine is only three goals away from reaching 100 Champions League goals and you cannot help but feel that over the course of the two legs, this landmark could be achieved.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has already expressed that if his side is to come away with a win, keeping the winger’s opportunities to a minimum is a must.
Andreas Christensen vs Luis Suarez
Two goals in six appearances against the West London outfit for Luis Suarez does not bode well for the Uruguayan. It has been almost five years since the striker last faced Chelsea and with 20 goals to his name already this season, he will be looking to add to his tally.
However, the 31-year-old will need to get the better of Blues centre-back Andreas Christensen who has blossomed since returning from his two-year loan at Borussia Mochengladbach.
Chelsea have kept 11 clean sheets in the 20 Premier League appearances the 21-year-old has played and their back line has looked shaky without him.
His withdrawal in the opening exchanges in the 3-0 loss to Bournemouth due to a sustained hamstring problem led to the Premier League Champions collapse and in the following defeat to Watford one week later their vulnerability without him showed again.
N’Golo Kante vs Ivan Rakitic
Barcelona are expected to have the majority of possession and while they will look to dictate the flow of the game, defensive midfielder N’Golo Kante will have to be at his best.
The Frenchman has the ability to turn defence into attack with a flick of his boot and catching the LaLiga leaders on the break may be the home side’s best option.
Kante will have to keep tabs on playmaker Ivan Rakitic, the 29-year-old is capable of playing a pass of any range and will be looking to send Messi on his way.