After a comfortable victory against Crystal Palace in the Premier League at the weekend, Antonio Conte’s Chelsea are back in action in the midweek as they travel to Catalonia to take on Barcelona, in the 2nd leg of the Round of 16 of the Champions League this season. The reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge ended in a 1-1 draw, setting up this second leg beautifully.
Barca are fresh from 3 consecutive victories over Atletico Madrid, Espanyol and Malaga in the last 10 days and are unbeaten in their last 35 games across all competitions. Conte will believe that his side has what it takes to get a result from this tie and here is the predicted lineup he might field for this game:
In early team news, the Blues have no new injury issues to worry about ahead of this game. Ross Barkley and David Luiz remain long-term absentees while Antonio Rudiger should be back in training anytime soon but might not be risked for this clash.
Expected lineup (3-4-3):
Thibaut Courtois remains Chelsea’s first choice under the bar and he needs to have a solid game to keep Barcelona from running away with a lead. Young Andreas Christensen has done exceptionally well this season and should keep his place at the heart of the defence while Gary Cahill’s experience will be important on the left side of the back-3.
Cesar Azpilicueta has been Chelsea’s best defender for over a year now and will continue to start on the right side of the backline.
Chelsea have a host of options in this role but might stick with N’Golo Kante as the enforcer and Cesc Fabregas as the creator, to add some balance to their midfield. Both players need to step up their game, to keep up with Barcelona’s tempo.
Victor Moses was an unused substitute in the game against Palace and could be back at right wing-back while Conte will surely pick Marcos Alonso in the left wing-back role.
Willian was the goalscorer for Chelsea in the first leg. He has been in superb form recently and should definitely start this game. He should attack from the right flank while Eden Hazard should start from the left flank.
The Belgian will be the biggest threat for Barcelona in this tie. Alvaro Morata got a few minutes at the weekend but could start this game, for the first time back in Spain.
Here is how they might line up: