Preview: FC Barcelona vs Chelsea

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

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8 Responses to Preview: FC Barcelona vs Chelsea

  1. bc9jaCulé says:

    Good preview. Albeit, I refuse to subscribe to the idea of starting Adriano @ LB. In the last 2 matches, he’s been PARTLY responsible for two of the goals conceded (his failure to track both Drogba & Cristiano goals that were scored from his wing). I don’t usually proffer who or who not to start but here’s my take on this CRUNCH tie:
    I’d go with a defence of Alves-Pique-Masche-Puyol, a midfield of Busquets-Iniesta-Fabregas (YES, Xavi shouldn’t start because he ‘DULLS’ our directness in attack) & an attack of Pedro-Messi-Alexis.
    With this setup, we can seamlessly switch between our standard 4-3-3 & the experimental 3-4-3 — with Alves alternating as a RB or RWF whenever appropriate. And, @ least, 2 of Piqué-Masche-Puyol MUST ALWAYS remain @ the back to nullify any counterattacking threat. Then Xavi and Cuenca as subs in the 70th minute or earlier depending on the scoreline. Will be a very tense encounter but the ability to fly high in fixtures like tonight’s will most definitely buttress the legend of our eternal comrades.
    Time to step it up guys, BIG TIME!

    Barça 3
    Chelsea 0

    Som-Hi Barça!!!!!

  2. Fredegar says:

    Apart from Iniesta’s goal at Stamford Bridge three years ago, my favourite football moment was when we overturned a 3-1 first leg deficit to beat Chelsea 5-1 after prolongations at Camp Nou some twelve years ago. I’m not sure but I believe Pep captained the team that day? And Rivaldo had an amazing game, despite missing a penalty that would have sent us through in regulatory time (he made amends scoring the one in overtime though!) Happy memories to inspire us tonight!
    I’m frankly worried before this game but I believe this team has what it takes in mental toughness and in ability to overcome the first leg and send us through another CL final that would be legendary. But of course we also have some bad memories of Chelsea, they will be tough to break, and the fitness of Barça seems to be far from its peak… Still, this team has not disappointed us three games in a row since Pep took over, and I believe that if the stars align themselves just a bit in our favour, we could hand them a proper trashing! Let’s hope for a bit of the luck that deserted us the last week and let’s believe in this team! Visca Barça!

  3. mjmare says:

    The loss on Saturday, will serve as motivation and will drive the team on the get the needed result.

    Puyol should play LB, with Masch and Pique in the centre, with Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta. and Messi, Pedro, Alexis upfront.

    The only thing we need to do is not be sloppy in possession and make Chelsea chase the ball.

    Barca 3-0

  4. barcacentralnic says:

    Team announced: Valdés, Puyol, Mascherano, Piqué; Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc; Alexis, Messi, Cuenca

    Looks like Pep’s gone for the system and Alves is the sacrificed. Very different to how I would have played it. Will be looking for that Cesc-Messi connection that worked so well early in the season.

  5. ransae says:

    Reblogged this on Ransae's Blog.

  6. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    i am absolutely gutted to be honest!!! I have mentioned sooooo mannnny times in here, we should have given Leo Messi a rest as much as we could against weaker teams when we had a comfortable lead. Nobody in here agreed right!!?? So is it worth it now??? Leo looked jaded when we needed him the most! To be exact, his penalty miss and his lost of possession in the first leg resulted into our departure from the Champions League. What now?? Yah, i know we don’t need defenders right? We need Jordi Alba to combine down that left wing/channel, we need another 20 more attack minded players and playmakers right???

    We need a CENTRAL DEFENDER???? WE NEED A REAL GOOD ONE…SOMEONE LIKE THIAGO SILVA or Thiago Silva himself…..and we need him fast!! Ramires had a breeze past Puyol for the first. Isn’t that a good enough sign?? Pique is not going to be at his best for a long time as long as Shakira and his ‘other sort of priorities besides football’ takes centre stage.

    We also should take the rest of the games as a golden opprtunity to give Batra, Muniesa, Montoya, Tello, Thiago, Dos Santos, Pedro, Affallay, Cuenca and David Villa a good run of games. Some of these players will have to be sold if they fail to show any sort of improvement on the pitch. Its time to trim down the numbers especially in attack. and midfield. 2-3 players will have to leave in the summer. We have too many players in some positions surely.

    We SHOULD be given a massive rest. He should just be required to attend general fitness training and thats it. Maybe field him in Copa Del Rey. The guy needs a break. Its best to preserve our best player for the good of the next season.

  7. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    Leo Messi SHOULD be given a massive rest. He should just be required to attend general fitness training and thats it. Maybe field him in Copa Del Rey. The guy needs a break. Its best to preserve our best player for the good of the next season. I really hope the technical team does a massive job in deciding who stays and who doesn’t. We have to loose 2-3 players in attack and midfield positions, invest in 1 or two more good defenders (183 cm tall and above pls) and have a good pre season. From now, till season end will be a critical time for the technical team, and members of the coaching team led by Tito and Pep. We have to be more decisive in our purchase of players….Spend money correctly, and not be wasteful in terms of resources!

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