Can Messi break scoring duck against the Blues?

By Soccer Blog | Feb 20, 2018

Lionel Messi will look to score his first ever goal against Chelsea in a competitive fixture when Spanish giants Barcelona square off against the Blues in the first leg of their round of 16 clash.

The Argentine superstar, widely acknowledged as the best player of his generation, has failed to find the back of the net in EIGHT previous games against the Blues. He also missed a penalty in that semifinal against Roberto di Matteo’s side at the Nou Camp five and a half years ago, the scene of one of Chelsea’s greatest ever victories. This game at the Bridge marks the first meeting between the two sides since that evening- a renewal of one of the great modern day European rivalries. Messi also has a poor record against Chelsea’s Belgian stopper Thibault Courtois from the latter’s days at Atleti, and he will be keen to set both records straight.

Messi’s 29 shots against Chelsea in EIGHT games- goalless so far

Under Ernesto Valverde, Barcelona have transformed from a tiki-taka side to an outfit that is prepared to defend- their average possession this season has been the lowest in any of their previous ten campaigns. In the group stages of the Champions League this year, they let in just one goal and kept Italian champions Juve goalless in both their clashes. In Spain, where they are top of the league, they’ve conceded less than half a goal per game- 11 in 24, 15 less than reigning European champions and arch rivals Real Madrid.

After the departure of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain, Messi and Luis Suarez, the other two members of the famed MSN trident, have taken on more responsibility. The duo have scored 37 goals between them, and with Philippe Coutinho ineligible and Ousmane Dembele injured, the onus of scoring at the Bridge will again fall on them.

Ernesto Valverde

In six home games against Barcelona, Chelsea have lost only once- dating all the way back to 2006.

Head to Head Chelsea v Barcelona

Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea
Chelsea 1-0 Barcelona
Chelsea 1-1 Barcelona
Barcelona 0-0 Chelsea
Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea
Chelsea 1-0 Barcelona
Barcelona 1-1 Chelsea
Chelsea 1-2 Barcelona
Chelsea 4-2 Barcelona
Barcelona 2-1 Chelsea

The rivalry, as you can see, is a well contested one between two strong teams, which explains the massive demand for tickets for the fixture at sites like In the last competitive meeting between the two sides, a whopping 95,845 spectators turned up at the Nou Camp.

Chelsea 2006

Barcelona recent form

Eibar 0-2 Barcelona
Barcelona 0-0 Getafe
Valencia 0-2 Barcelona
Espanyol 1-1 Barcelona
Barcelona 1-0 Valencia

Chelsea recent form

Chelsea 4-0 Hull
Chelsea 3-0 West Brom
Watford 4-1 Chelsea
Chelsea 0-3 Bournemouth
Chelsea 3-0 Newcastle

The referee for this fixture is Cuneyt Cakir, the same referee who took charge of that semifinal in 2012. That was a spectacle for the ages- will this one be too?

Conte has some decisions to make in terms of personnel- Rudiger or the experienced Gary Cahill at the back, and a potential choice between Morata and new signing Olivier Giroud upfront. Chelsea, whose next fixture after this is at home to Manchester United, also have two former Barca players in their ranks in the form of Pedro and Cesc Fabregas.

Chelsea v Barcelona kicks off at 19.45 UK

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