Antonio Conte is under a lot of pressure right now and will need to make sure that Chelsea do everything in their power to qualify for the next stage of the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League Round of 16, which will see Barcelona stand strong in their way.
One team which has just can’t seem to catch a break at the moment is English Premier League defending champions Chelsea. The Antonio Conte managed team has shipped in 7 goals in their last 2 EPL games and are now getting ready to take on a lethal Barcelona team at Stamford Bridge next Tuesday, in the Round of 16 for 2017/18 UEFA Champions League.
Barcelona have been close to perfect this season and are yet to lose a match in either La Liga or 2017/18 UEFA Champions League. However, They will enter the two-legged tie without their star signing from January Philippe Coutinho, who is cup-tied having already played for Liverpool in the competition. Antonio Conte is under a lot of pressure right now and will need to make sure that they do everything in their power to qualify for the next Round of 16 stage of the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League.
A heavy defeat for Chelsea against Barcelona over the two-legs of the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16, could spell the end of Antonio Conte’s reign at Chelsea. The recent dip in form for the Blues has left them sweating over the qualification for next year’s Champions League.
Barcelona on the other hand, will be looking to continue their march forward in the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16, as they look to finish the season with a treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League.
Chelsea have been dealing with a lot of injury concerns recently but the good news for Antonio Conte is that he should almost have the full squad to choose from. One player who is a major concern for Barcelona’s game is star striker Alvaro Morata. The Spanish international is reportedly suffering from a back injury and his latest team news update, Conte admitted that he had very little idea when his striker will be back to full match fitness.
The absence of Morata could mean the first start for January signing Olivier Giroud. The former Arsenal striker has a decent record in Champions League with 13 goals from 32 matches. He will most likely be joined by former Barcelona striker Pedro, who has missed the last few matches with injury but is on schedule to be fit for the big game against his ex-club.
Barcelona have a few injury concerns going into the match against Chelsea. Gerard Pique picked up an injury recently which leaves him touch and go for the 1st leg at Stamford Bridge. Another centre-back who is currently on the recovery table is former Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen, who might not start the 1st leg but is always a good option to have on the bench.
Coutinho as already mentioned above will not be eligible to play in the Champions Leauge this season due to his involvement with Liverpool in the group stage. Summer signing Ousmane Dembele is currently out injured and it is still not clear whether he will be fit in time to make to starting XI on Tuesday night. However, Andre Gomes looks right on schedule to be available for selection.
2017/18 UEFA Champions League: Chelsea Predicted 11
Courtois; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Bakayoko, Alonso; Pedro, Giroud and Hazard.
2017/18 UEFA Champions League: Barcelona Predicted 11
Stegen; Piqué, Umtiti, Semedo, Alba, Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta, Paulinho, Suarez and Messi.
Chelsea v Barcelona Prediction
Chelsea are a shadow of a side that dominated that the Premier League last season, their form has been dreadful of late and having given 7 goals away in their last two league matches, that too not against one of the title challengers doesn’t bode well for their prospects in the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League, Round of 16, against Barcelona.
Messi and Suarez have been in sensational form this season and will be confident of finding the back of the net even at Stamford Bridge, in the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League Round of 16. Both these teams have played out some epic matches before, however with Chelsea on a downward spiral currently, we see nothing but an away win in the 1st leg.
Chelsea 1-3 Barcelona