Chelsea Face Massive Task as Lionel Messi’s Barcelona Come to Town
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Chelsea Face Massive Task as Lionel Messi’s Barcelona Come to Town

The bewitching talents of Lionel Messi will be on show in London on Tuesday, as Barcelona pitch up at Stamford Bridge for the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 clash with Chelsea.

Barcelona have toppled Chelsea on three occasions in Europe’s premier club competition (1999/2000, 2005/06 and 2008/09) but the Blues can draw on happy memories from their most recent meeting, as they fought back from two goals down to progress 3-2 on aggregate in the semi-final of the 2011/12 iteration – before famously beating Bayern Munich in the final.

That Chelsea vintage could call on John Terry, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, Didier Droga and Petr Cech – world-class stars at the peak of their powers.

The current Chelsea side may be Premier League champions, but they are a pale imitation of their former selves and their chances will hinge on Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante performing at their best. Even that may not be enough over two legs against a Barca side who are solid defensively and have a number of attacking options to support the game’s greatest player in Messi.

Barca’s foot has come off the gas in recent weeks, following their stunning start to the campaign, but the size of the task facing Chelsea is highlighted by the fact 188BET have the Blues priced up at 3.60to win on the night. Barca can be backed at 2.12, with the draw at 3.40.

If Chelsea are to stand any chance of progressing to the quarter-finals, they have to get a result at Stamford Bridge. Heading to Spain without an advantage, with the best part of 80,000 fans inside the Camp Nou roaring on the opposition, would intimidate even the very best in the business.

Sadly, this Chelsea are a long way from being near the very best. Manager Antonio Conte was able to mastermind a Premier League title win in his first season in West London last term, but they’ve not built on those foundations and questionable spending in the past two transfer windows has left them lagging behind the best on the domestic front – not to mention the continent’s elite.

The one strand of hope for Chelsea to grasp on to is that Messi has a poor record against the Blues. He’s yet to score in eight meetings with them. If you feel he will consign that stat to the dustbin, 188BET are offering a price of 2.10 for the Argentina wizard to net any point in the 90 minutes.

Messi needs three goals to bring up his century in the Champions League; it would not come as any surprise were he to bury his Chelsea hoodoo in style with a hat-trick.

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