Thursday, May 24, 2018

Prediction: Barcelona vs Chelsea

Verdict: Both teams to score – yes

Best Odds: 9/11

Bookmaker: 888sport

Catalan giants Barcelona play host to Premier League title holders Chelsea on Wednesday night at Camp Nou. Blaugrana have an away goal acting as a vital lead ahead of the second leg and are now expected to go in full force against the out-of-sorts English champions.

Barcelona

Following a turbulent summer which saw the Catalan club sell Neymar in a world-record deal to Paris Saint Germain a new era began at Camp Nou which saw Barcelona launch an ambitious bid in both La Liga and the Champions League.

Ernesto Valverde’s men are flying high in both competitions despite some minor hiccups which saw them alternate between wins and draws over the past ten matches. Off the back of a comfortable win at Malaga, however, the Catalans are confident they will notch two wins in a row for the first time since the beginning of February. With an eight-point margin ahead of Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga standings, Barcelona can now fully focus on the great challenge lying ahead. Having dominated the group stage of the competition and eliminated Juventus to reach the Last 16, Barcelona are now keen to send a message to their fellow competitors who might have thought that a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge was the sign of Barca’s vulnerability. Luis Suarez and co. are prepared to demonstrate it’s just been a poor day in the office and we should definitely expect to see a strong display from the hosts.

Team News

Leo Messi should get back into the fold after missing the Malaga match due to the birth of his third son.

Denis Saurez and Neslon Semedo remain out of action for Wednesday, whereas Sergi Roberto and Andres Iniesta face a late fitness test following their muscle and groin injuries, respectively.

Chelsea

Reigning Premier League champions stand in front of their biggest test this season. The Blues have endured a difficult run this term and Barcelona test could determine the rest of the campaign.

Heading over to the Spanish giants’ own back yard, Antonio Conte’s men will be looking to show the world they did not deserve to be considered heavy outsiders against the Catalan giants in the Last 16. The in-form winger William handed Chelsea a vital lifeline despite Barca’s away goal advantage for the match at Camp Nou. The Blues are still very much in with a chance of reaching the quarterfinals but will need to score at least once to keep those chances alive. Antonio Conte’s men have been all over the place with their form this campaign and will travel to Spain on the back of an inconsistent run. Back-to-back defeats at the hands of Manchester clubs in the Premier league and a unconvincing 2-1 triumph over Crystal Palace last time out are not exactly the best introduction to arguably their biggest match of the season.

Team News

Tiemoue Bakayoko, David Luiz and Ross Barkley are the unavailable trio of first-team players for the Wednesday’s match.

Antonio Conte will face an attacking dilemma as he has to choose between Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud upfield.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Barcelona have alternated between wins and draws over their last ten matches
  • Hosts could have the total of 6 first-team players unavailable for selection vs Blues
  • Barcelona have lost only once at home this entire season, winning 18 of 21 games
  • Chelsea lost their last four matches away from home ground
  • Blues held Barca to a draw in their last four trips to Camp Nou

Conclusion

With Leo Messi back in the fold following the birth of his third son, Luis Suarez in top gear and Ousmane Dembele in an improving run of form, Barcelona have to be taken as firm favourites to beat fairly inconsistent Chelsea. The Blues have no time to wait and need to go forward which could open plenty of space for the Catalans to exploit and goals are the thing we expect to see here in abundance – or at least one on each end.

Verdict: Both teams to score – yes

Best Odds: 9/11

Bookmaker: 888sport

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Milos Markovic


Formerly a Chief Editor at the largest sports site in Serbia Sportske.net, Milos Markovic is an avid football writer who contributes to a variety of online football magazines - most prominently Soccernews.com and Futbolgrad.com. His feature articles, editorials, interviews and match analyses have provided informed opinion and views, helping the football aficionados keep up to date on relevant events in world football.

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