A wounded Catalan giant will welcome a weary adversary from the north into their den at the Camp Nou on Tuesday night with nothing less than a place in the final of the Champions League at stake.
Chelsea stunned the defending Champions by winning the 1st leg of the semi-final at Stamford Bridge 1-0. But defeating Barcelona on their home turf is a completely different ball-game and Chelsea will be wary of the thrashing Pep Guardiola’s men are capable of handing out. On the flipside, the Blues will also take comfort from the fact that Barca all but handed the La Liga title to Real Madrid after succumbing to a 2-1 loss at home in El Clasico on Saturday. Barca haven’t tasted defeat at home in 15 European games and anything but a victory on Tuesday night will end their hopes of becoming the first club to successfully defend the Champions League. Chelsea on the other hand will be hoping for a positive result after losing four of their previous five semi-finals.
Barcelona’s three-time Ballon d’Or winner, Messi, is expected to feature against Chelsea after returning to training on Monday following a ‘gastric problem’. Alexis Sanchez went off with a thigh knock in the first leg, but came on as a second-half substitute against Real. Guardiola has played down rumours of a rift with Gerard Pique, who has not featured since straining his left thigh against AC Milan on 3rd April, but the defender has been an unused substitute for Barcelona’s last three games. David Villa was ruled out for the season after breaking his left leg at the Club World Cup on 15th December.
Chelsea will assess Didier Drogba before deciding on their starting XI after the striker missed Saturday’s Premier League game at Arsenal with a knee injury. The Ivory Coast star traveled with the squad to Spain on Monday and trained at Camp Nou that evening. Defender David Luiz also made the trip, despite appearing to have been ruled out for at least another week with a hamstring injury.
Head to Head
18 Apr 2012 – Champions League Semi Final, 1st Leg – Chelsea 1-0 Barcelona
06 May 2009 – Champions League Semi Final, 2nd Leg – Chelsea 1-1 Barcelona
28 Apr 2009 – Champions League Semi Final, 1st Leg – Barcelona 0-0 Chelsea
Barcelona – LLWWW
Chelsea – DWWDW
Probable Starting XI
Barcelona (3-4-3): Valdes; Puyol, Pique, Mascherano; Dani Alves, Xavi, Busquets, Fabregas; Alexis, Messi, Iniesta.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Mikel, Essien; Ramires, Lampard, Mata; Drogba.
Barcelona 3-1 Chelsea