Chelsea VS Barcelona: The first leg of this last 16 tie in west London should be a tight affair and we think the smart money should go on less than three goals being scored
The Blaugrana last faced the Blues back in 2012 in a dramatic semi-final loss, and Ernesto Valverde’s men will be hoping to avoid another surprise elimination at the hands of the Premier League champions.
- Chelsea hold edge in past meetings – W4 D5 L3
- Messi yet to score in eight games against Blues
- Fabregas and Pedro reunited with Barcelona
Possible line-ups – Chelsea VS Barcelona
Chelsea: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Cahill; Moses, Kante, Fàbregas, Alonso; Hazard, Pedro; Morata
Out: Barkley (hamstring), David Luiz (unspecified), Bakayoko (unspecified)
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Busquets, Paulinho, Rakitić; Iniesta, Messi, Suárez
Out: Semedo (suspended), Vermaelen (muscular problem)
Head to Head – Chelsea VS Barcelona
Recent affairs between these two have tended to be very tight indeed. Four of the last five renewals have ended all-square, including when the teams last met back in 2015, though Chelsea did eventually progress in extra-time.
Chelsea VS Barcelona STATS
- Chelsea and Barcelona are facing each other for the 13th time in the Champions League, the fifth-most played fixture in the competition. They hadn’t played each other since April 2012 – Chelsea won 3-2 on aggregate.
- Chelsea are unbeaten in their last seven Champions League games against Barcelona (W2 D5).
- However, Barcelona hold the advantage in knockout ties, having eliminated the Blues on three occasions. Chelsea progressed in the two other ties.
- Barcelona have won only one of their six away games against Chelsea in the Champions League (D1 L4), it was in February 2006 (2-1). They have also never kept a clean sheet at Stamford Bridge.
- Chelsea will attempt to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time since 2013/14. However, they are winless in their last six knockout games (D3 L3).
- Barcelona finished top of their group for the 11th consecutive season, the longest run in the history of the Champions League.
- However, Barcelona have reached the Champions League semi-finals only once in the last four seasons. They had made it to the semis in each of the previous six campaigns.
- Barcelona were one of four teams to remain unbeaten in this season’s Champions League group stages, alongside Besiktas, Liverpool and Tottenham.
- Barcelona also have the best defensive record in the Champions League this season, conceding only one goal in six games.
- However, Barcelona have scored only one goal in their last five away games in the Champions League, an own goal by Sporting Lisbon’s Sebastian Coates.
- Eden Hazard has scored three goals and delivered two assists in his last five Champions League games.
- Lionel Messi has played 655 minutes against Chelsea in the Champions League but has yet to score. Against no other team has he played that many minutes without ever finding the net.
- Luis Suarez has failed to score in the last 791 minutes of play in the Champions League, his longest drought in the competition. His last goal dates back to March 2017 against Paris SG.
- In fact, Alvaro Morata and Luis Suarez are the two biggest under performers in the Champions League this season compared to their Expected Goals (xG). Based on the quality of their chances, Morata has an xG of 4.2 goals (1 actual goal) and Suarez 3.1 (0 actual goal).
Tips and predictions – Chelsea VS Barcelona
Under 2.5 goals is offered at 10/11 (1.91) and there is a strong argument to be made for backing less than three goals to be scored at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea will be desperate to keep a clean sheet, while Barca have not been as prolific in the final third as in recent seasons.
This selection has paid out in four of Barca’s six games in the Champions League so far, as well as in Chelsea’s last home European game against Atletico Madrid back in December.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-3 Barcelona