With a place in next month’s Uefa Champions League Final at stake, Barça play hosts to Chelsea at Camp Nou. To reach Munich, Barça need to overturn a 1-0 deficit after Didier Drogba’s goal at Stamford Bridge last Wednesday gave Chelsea the lead from the first leg.
Pep Guardiola will need to decide on the right formula for the game. Does he pick his best eleven players and then fit them into a formation, or should he choose his system first and then decide on the players for each position?
It’s a tough question but in my opinion I’d like to see Dani Alves playing as a proper attacking right back and not as a winger so that means starting with a 4-3-3. Next I would insist on Adriano and not Puyol at left back as this gives us the same attacking options on the left. The midfield should be our classic Xavi-Busquets-Iniesta trio, while up front I would put Pedro and Alexis wide but coming inside to support Messi.
We can expect to see a similar pattern to the first leg with Barça controlling possession and Chelsea defending deep while hoping to hit us on the counter-attack. An away goal for the Londoners would make things very difficult for Barça so we must be very careful at the back and try not to lose possession in dangerous positions.
Curiously, Chelsea have scored first in all five away games in this season’s Champion’s League but they only held the lead at Benfica while drawing with Genk and Valencia and losing at Bayer Leverkusen and Napoli. Their defence is not as solid as it once was, though with experienced players like Cech, Terry and Cole it’s still likely to be very tough to break down over 90 minutes. Barça may need a lot of patience tonight and the biggest problem will be the anxiety that will grow if the first goal doesn’t come early.
The defeat to Madrid on Saturday puts more pressure on Barça and it will be another tremendous test of our mentality to see if we can bounce back from such disappointment. We will start with the core of Saturday’s team and many of our key players haven’t had a rest for weeks. Chelsea, on the other hand, made eight changes for Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Arsenal with only Cech, Terry and Cahill continuing from the team that beat us last Wednesday.
It’s going to be an incredibly tense 90 minutes to watch. Even if Barça are two goals up we still just one goal away from elimination, so unless we can go three or four in front we are going to suffer some incredible nerves in the final minutes. Hopefully, it will all be worth it. A final against Madrid is still a big possibility and after the loss on Saturday there could be nothing better than getting our revenge over our old enemy in Munich.
Possible starting XIs:
Barça: Valdés; Alves, Puyol, Mascherano, Adriano; Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta; Pedro, Messi, Alexis.
Chelsea: Cech; Ivanović, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Lampard, Mikel; Ramires, Meireles, Mata; Drogba.
My prediction: Barça 3 Chelsea 0