Revenge Time For Messi? An Analysis Of Chelsea’s Champions League Round Of 16 Tie Versus Barcelona
Following some scintillating group stage encounters, Champions League football will resume with its knock out rounds within a couple of months time. The draws have been made and all the clubs are now aware of their Round of 16 opponents. This campaign, meanwhile, has been quite impressive for the English sides as all five of them have progressed through to the knockouts of this prestigious European competition.
Both the Manchester clubs as well as Liverpool will be content with their opponents as they have been drawn against easier opponents when compared with the draw for London heavyweights Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs, runners-up of the previous Premier League campaign, will face Serie A champions and last season’s Champions League runners-up Juventus in their Round of 16 outing. But all eyes will be on Chelsea, the champions of England, who will be reigniting their European rivalry with Catalan giants FC Barcelona.
Barcelona, the five-time European champions, were humbled by underdogs Chelsea in the 2011-12 semifinals. That has been the only occasion when the La Liga giants were knocked out by an English outfit in the previous 7 ties. Chelsea eventually clinched their maiden Champions League title by defeating Bayern Munich in a dramatic shootout and their deep defensive strategy against Blaugrana is still discussed among many.
Barcelona previously knocked the Blues off in the Champions League semis back in 2009 when Andres Iniesta scored a stoppage-time winner at Stamford Bridge which was his side’s only shot on target and the Catalans eventually defeated Manchester United in the final to conquer the silverware.
These two sides have been pretty competitive whenever they have met in this competition. However, the entity that has handed Barca an advantage over the London giants is a certain Lionel Messi who will be desperate to break his Chelsea jinx in February. The Argentine is termed as world’s best for his majestic skills, game-changing ability, and goal-scoring attributes. Still, the 5 time Ballon d’Or winner is yet to achieve a few things in his glorious football career and scoring against the Blues is certainly one of them.
Messi has played 8 times against Chelsea but has failed to score from 29 attempts altogether. His missed spot-kick during that 2012 semi-final cost his side severely and the superstar will thus be seeking a revenge this time around.
Barcelona have been in stupendous form this season under new boss Ernesto Valverde whereas the Blues have dropped crucial points on a number of occasions this term despite a sensational Premier League win last season under Antonio Conte. Chelsea have a tight schedule in February-March, yet the boss has urged his men to remain optimistic prior to this epic clash.
‘‘It’s a draw and our reaction must be positive. As I know very well you must be ready to face everything and in this case, you must ready. The past is the past. Now is the present and it is another story.
‘This type of game is a good chance for every player to show the right value, not only for Hazard but for every player in the right way.
‘I think that we must be ready to play at home and away,’ he said. ‘It is impossible to see an advantage. Home and away if you want to hope to go to the next round.”
Lionel Messi is a phenomenon, no doubt. He has not scored against Chelsea before but things are different this time around. He is now more mature and tactically, the current Barcelona side is more dependent on him than before. One can surely expect Messi to score against the Blues but whether he’d be able to take Barcelona past Chelsea needs to be seen.