Messi 75 3′ |
- Possessions: 60% | 40%
- Targets: 0-off/2-on | 0-off/2-on
- Champions League | Camp Nou
- Corners: 0|1
- Fouls 3 | 1
- Off sides 0 | 2
- Live scores: the goals from the games in the UK and Europe
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45 min: Willian is booked that the wall hasn’t gone back the full 10 yards.
44 min: Chelsea are still trying. Willian feeds a pass into Giroud’s feet 25 yards from goal. He turns and Pique brings him down. This is a fine opportunity for Alonso or Willian.
41: A lull.
38 min: To their credit, Chelsea aren’t giving up. Moments after that Alonso effort, Kante bustles through a couple of challenges on the edge of the Barcelona area and finds himself with only Ter Stegen to beat. Fabregas, who might be offside, tries to step in and swipe home with his right foot, but Kante is there first and he slashes a shot wide with his left. What a chance that was! Maybe there’s hope yet for Chelsea. One goal might make Barcelona nervous.
37 min: Iniesta shoots well wide from the edge of the area.
36 min: Messi’s goal, timed at two minutes and eight seconds, is the quickest of his career!
33 min: Over on the right, Messi clips the free-kick into the area, Chelsea caught unawares again. The unmarked Pique can’t quite scoop the ball over Courtois, though, and Chelsea survive.
33 min: Messi gambols down the right, cuts inside and is brought down by Rudiger. He stays down for a while. It was a pretty innocuous foul, though.
31 min: On the one hand, Chelsea haven’t exactly been poor. On the other, this is easily their softest ever performance on this ground. For all Messi’s brilliance, it’s impossible to excuse the way Chelsea gave the goals away. It’s hard to imagine previous Chelsea teams being opened up by Barcelona so easily.
28 min: Barcelona are starting to have some fun now, Iniesta swerving into the area from the left and completely confounding Chelsea with a gorgeous backheel to Suarez, who’s through on goal. The angle’s tight, however, and Courtois stays big and blocks Suarez’s effort to keep Chelsea hanging in the tie.
24 min: This is a weird game. It’s been fairly evenly balanced and yet there’s a danger that Chelsea are already out of it. Barcelona haven’t done too many impressive things. But Messi has done two brilliant things and Chelsea haven’t helped themselves with some generous defending.
22 min: That arguably does change Chelsea’s task. Now they have to score twice. Send for Ramires!
GOAL! Barcelona 2-0 Chelsea (Dembele, 20 min; 3-2 agg)
Chelsea break. The ball falls to Hazard on the edge of the area. His shot is blocked. The ball ends up back on the halfway line with Fabregas. Yet he dithers as the ball bounces up, allowing the alert Messi to nip in and steal possession. Uh oh. Suddenly he’s away. Out of nothing. Christensen hurtles across, but Messi’s too quick for him. He beats Azpilicueta as well, skittling to the defender’s left. Four or five Chelsea defenders recognise the danger and move towards Messi. But he’s too clever for all of them. He sees what no one else sees and plays a stunning pass across the area to Dembele, who’ arrived on the scene unmarked. The youngster takes a touch and crashes a rising drive past Courtois, who can’t stop the ball from flying into the far corner! What a time for Dembele to score his first Barcelona goal! And what a hole Chelsea find themselves in now!
17 min: Dembele, tight to the touchline, goes to ground with Alonso nearby. Nothing doing. It’s a throw to Chelsea. There’s a strange feel to this. Barcelona were completely dominant for three minutes and scored, but they’ve looked ordinary since then and not much has happened.
15 min: Barcelona enjoy a decent spell of possession for pretty much the first time since, well, Messi’s goal in the third minute. The fear for Chelsea, though, is that Messi is simply biding his time before coming to life again.
12 min: It’s all Chelsea at the moment. They’re snapping in energetically to win the ball in midfield and they have Barcelonapinned back for the time being. Willian, who scored Chelsea’s goal in the first leg, decides to have a crack from 25 yards. Ter Stegen saves smartly down to his right. “Remember when Courtouis was a top 3 keeper?” says Rob Coughlin.
11 min: Moses wins a free-kick after breaking down the right and trying to combine with Giroud. The ball is eventually lifted into the Barcelona area. It’s cleared, but Chelsea continue to press. Hazard spins on a sixpence on the edge of the area and slips a pass through to Rudiger, who’s offside.
9 min: Now Kante nips in to win possession before finding Moses. He bursts into the area, but he’s stopped by a sliding Iniesta, who timed his tackle perfectly.
8 min: Chelsea continue to probe, Hazard mischievous again, drifting inside from the left and finding Moses in space on the right this time. The wing-back’s low cross is cut out, but Chelsea will be encouraged by the last few minutes. They’re finding gaps in the final third.
7 min: Chelsea have realised that there might be weaknesses down the right side of Barcelona’s defence. Hazard causes more problems, feeding a pass through to the overlapping Willian, whose low ball into the six-yard box is hacked clear by Umtiti.
6 min: Willian whips the free-kick towards Giroud at the near post. The ball comes off a Barcelona player last and drifts just off target. A Chelsea corner. It comes to nothing. But that’s better from the visitors.
5 min: Does Messi’s goal change Chelsea’s task? Not exactly. They needed to score a goal anyway. They still need to score. But it’s looking harder now. Barcelona have settled and Messi is in the mood. This could become a long night for Chelsea, although they look to respond positively here, with Hazard winning a free-kick on the left.
GOAL! Barcelona 1-0 Chelsea (Messi, 3 min; 2-1 agg)
Chelsea, a little too passive, continue to sit off Barcelona. You can see the logic, but it’s a bit too simple for the home side. The ball comes to Messi on the right, 30 yards from goal. He skips past Hazard with ease and tries a one-two with Dembele. The Frenchman’s lay-off bounces off the unfortunate Alonso and falls to Suarez in the area. He prods it through to Messi, who surges in on the right before slipping a low right-footed finish through the legs of Courtois from a tight angle! A wonderful moment of opportunism from Messi, but Courtois won’t be happy with that!
2 min: Barcelona spend a long time stroking the ball around, Chelsea happy to sit off them and remain deep. It takes 90 seconds for a Chelsea player to have a touch and that honour goes to Antonio Rudiger, who slides in to stop Ousmane Dembele surging down the right. But it’s a throw to Barcelona and the pattern continues. And…
Peep! We’re off! Barcelona, in red and blue, get the game underway. Chelsea, all in white, are defending from right to left in the first half.
Here come the teams! The Barcelona anthem is being belted out and the flags are fluttering. There’s just enough time for us to remember the time that John Terry booted Alexis Sanchez up the backside, Ramires scored a delightful chip, Fernando Torres made Gary Neville squeal and, most incredibly of all, Jose Bosingwa delivered an immaculate defensive performance as Roberto Di Matteo’s 10-man Chelsea sent Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona vintage tumbling out of the Champions League six years ago. What a night that was! Can Antonio Conte’s men emulate those heroics here? It won’t be easy. Barcelona still have Lionel Messi. They have Luis Suarez. But Chelsea have form for getting it done. We’ll soon find out if they’re capable of defying the odds again!
Antonio Conte speaks! “I think Giroud played a good game with Hazard and Willian. We have to play against a strong team and for this reason we must be ready to work very hard, especially Eden and Willian. We decided in this way. We think this is the best decision. To face this type of team with players of great experience is very important. Barcelona like to dominate possession and you must be very good to keep calm and be prepared to suffer. As you know very well players don’t like only to run. Players like to have the ball and for this reason we must be ready to suffer when we are without the ball.”
Barcelona make two changes to the team that beat Malaga on the weekend. Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta are in, Paulinho and Philippe Coutinho are out. There’s a more balanced look to their attack with Ousmane Dembele starting. Paulinho started the first leg instead of the Frenchman.
Chelsea have named a bold side. There’s no start for Pedro on his return to his former side, though. Instead Olivier Giroud leads the line here, with Alvaro Morata on the bench and Antonio Conte hoping that the Frenchman will be able to hold the ball up for the visitors. Eden Hazard will be pleased. He really doesn’t like playing as a False Nine. That said, Giroud has tended to struggle against this level of opposition and his lack of mobility might turn out to be a hindrance. Might Pedro have given Chelsea more pace?
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Umtiti, Pique, Alba; Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta; Messi, Suarez, Dembele. Subs: Cillessen, Vermaelen, Gomes, Alcacer, Digne, Vidal, Paulinho.
Chelsea: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso; Willian, Giroud, Hazard. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Emerson, Bakayoko, Pedro, Morata.
Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia).
Hello. In the grand scheme of things it was hardly the most appalling of errors. There have been worse mistakes in the past, like Robert Green’s fumble at the 2010 World Cup, and worse defensive performances, like the one David Luiz put in against Germany in 2014. But sometimes there are games when you cannot even think about allowing your guard to drop for a millisecond. Sure, if Andreas Christensen had rolled a square pass across his own area last Saturday, then the ball probably would have been spanked into the upper tier of The Shed by Andros Townsend and nobody would have batted an eyelid. You can usually get away with doing that kind of thing against your Crystal Palaces and so on and so forth (no respect to Eagles fans, of course, it’s just that Palace were Chelsea’s opponents on the weekend). But when Christensen played a loose pass to Andres Iniesta just outside Chelsea’s three weeks ago, the punishment was swift and merciless and the complexion of this tie was dramatically altered.
Barcelona had been kept at arm’s length by Antonio Conte’s side for much of the first leg. Chelsea had maintained a deep defence, making sure that the La Liga leaders were forced to settle for slightly room-temperature possession in tepid areas, and they attempted to break with pace, energy and alacrity when they were able to spring forward, Willian and Pedro doing well to support Eden Hazard, Conte’s rebellious False Nine. Willian struck the woodwork twice in the first half before finally picking his spot early in the second, beating Marc-Andre Ter Stegen with a sweet drive from the edge of the area, and at that point Barcelona were looking flustered and sterile, arguably even a little old and in need of renovation as they searched for the spark to pierce Chelsea. Yet the narrative would change. Christensen made one false move, Iniesta set up Lionel Messi and that one glimmer was all the Argentinian needed to silence the chatter about his barren goalscoring record against Chelsea.
More importantly Christensen had allowed Messi to score an away goal for Barcelona – and if you don’t think that was a significant development, why don’t you have a word with Jose Mourinho? It means, of course, that Barcelona can afford to be marginally more relaxed this evening. The onus is on Chelsea to score. A goalless draw takes Barcelona through, which means that Chelsea cannot afford to be negative. They will have to seize the initiative at times, which might mean leaving gaps for Messi to exploit. This might not be the most scintillating Barcelona team of recent memory, but they are efficient and, not to hammer the point too much, they have Messi, who has apparently scored 472 free-kicks since the turn of the year.
But wait! Chelsea don’t necessarily have to win the game! Yes, they have to score. Yes, that will mean they can’t afford to be weird and stand around like they did against Manchester City last week. But mathematics suggests that 1-1 will take them to extra-time and penalties and that 2-2 or better will take them through on away goals. And they’ve drawn 2-2 on this ground before, first in a relatively meaningless group game in 2006, and then in April 2012 when … well, do you really need me to go over what happened on that particular night?
Kick-off: 7.45pm GMT, 8.45pm CET.
Prediction: Barcelona 2-1 Chelsea
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