Chelsea followed their upset victory at Stamford Bridge last week by playing out a pretty dull goalless draw against Arsenal on Saturday. The matches themselves were actually pretty similar, The Blues being forced onto the back foot for the majority of both games and having precious few chances while their opponents wasted theirs’. The thing is, Chelsea are now in the enviable position of having been outplayed in their last two games without a defeat to show for it.
Barcelona were involved in a dramatic El Clasico on Saturday, losing at home for the first time this season as Ronaldo’s Real Madrid condemned them to a 2-1 defeat. This Barca side are not used to losing successive games, even against such skilled opponents. It remains to be seen whether this is going to signal a collapse or a resurgence.
Chelsea’s path to victory involves riding their luck just as they have done in their last two matches; defending in numbers, trying to nick a goal on the break and hoping that their opponents find it tough to convert chances. Barcelona are going to once again enjoy a huge possession advantage, especially at the Camp Nou, and they WILL create dozens of opportunities.
Chelsea need to stay calm at the back (are you listening David Luiz?) and tight in the middle of the park, with the likes of Lampard and Mikel working tirelessly to close down Barca’s creators. Drogba will probably again prove their best outlet, and Mata will have to improve on his woeful performance against Arsenal.
For Barcelona, it’s simple. Get the ball to Messi/Iniesta/Xavi/Fabregas, then make sure the chances they create are finished off. Fabregas was especially culpable for their defeat in the first leg after missing a couple of gilt-edged chances. They need to be careful at the back however, as Puyol has made a number of high profile errors in the past few weeks. Pique’s return should help steady the ship, as long as his off-field distractions don’t have too much of an effect.
If Chelsea can sneak an away goal they would leave Barca needing 3 to win, and that is probably their best hope. I see Barcelona scoring at least 2 goals tonight, so I think the entire tie will hinge on whether or not Chelsea can find that elusive goal.
PREDICTION: Barcelona 3 Chelsea 0
I think the match will look exactly the same as last week’s tie, only with Barcelona this time managing to convert some of their chances in front a cacophonous home crowd. Check out the BBC’s live text coverage if you don’t have access to a stream/TV.