Football Article

Who Will Win: Chelsea v Barcelona

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Who Will Win: Chelsea v Barcelona Sports pundit

European champions FC Barcelona are on the road in the first leg of the Uefa Champions League semifinals against Chelsea in London.

Pep Guardiola’s side, who clinched the European title with victory over another English club Manchester United last year, will have fond memories of dramatically knocking out the Blues in the 2008-09 semifinals before lifting the silverware.

Domestic form

Chelsea are long out of title contention in England after their poor form under the sacked Andre Villas-Boas, although Roberto Di Matteo has helped steady the club who are in the hunt for the fourth Uefa Champions League spot. Di Matteo also steered Chelsea into the FA Cup final on the weekend after a 5-1 semifinal victory over Tottenham.

Barcelona remain hot on the heels of Spanish leaders Real Madrid, trailing them by just four points after it had been out to 10, after a stunning run of 11 consecutive victories. Barca defeated Levante 2-1 on the weekend, while a huge Clasico is around the corner against Real Madrid.

Team news

Chelsea will be without central defender David Luiz due to a hamstring injury while Gary Cahill is battling a foot problem, but skipper John Terry plays despite two cracked ribs.

Dani Alves and Gerard Pique are both back in the Barcelona squad after thigh injuries in a major boost, although Seydou Keita and Ibrahim Affelay haven’t travelled.

ECL facts

  • Chelsea have a perfect home record in the 2011-12 Champions League with five wins from five games at Stamford Bridge.
  • Barcelona are competing in the Champions League semifinals for the fifth consecutive season, with their 2008-09 win over Chelsea still in the minds.

Managers

Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo: “It’s fair to say we need two perfect performances, but the fact we have been performing so well over the past six weeks gives us the belief… I think Barcelona don’t like facing us – past results have shown that. The way we play is maybe a bit difficult for them to play against.”

Barca boss Pep Guardiola: “I remember that (2008-09) game and tie being very tough. The first game was difficult because Chelsea defended very well. In the second game they set up for the counterattack and it was also very difficult, especially when we lost a man and had to play the final 30 minutes with 10 men. But that was our first year together, and we had a bit of a love story that you have in the early days – we got the winning goal and the rest is history.”

The verdict

Sports Pundit predicts; Chelsea 0-2 FC Barcelona