Barcelona v Chelsea Champions League talking points as Conte feels the pressure

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Barcelona and Chelsea will fight it out for a place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League at the Camp Nou on Wednesday night.

Here, we look at some of the key talking points before the clash.

Get in touch with your thoughts on the game via Twitter and Facebook.

COULD THIS MATCH BE A DEFINING ONE FOR CONTE?

Chelsea are four points off a top four berth domestically and pressure has built significantly on Conte since he masterminded a credible draw in the first leg at home to Barcelona.

Limp defeats at Manchester City and Manchester United won’t be forgotten in a hurry while last weekend’s success over Crystal Palace wasn’t too convincing. Barcelona are no Porto or Basel when it comes to the comfortable last 16 ties other English sides had to negotiate, but the Blues need a heartfelt performance at the Camp Nou to convince Roman Abramovich that the players are still on Conte’s side.

A comprehensive defeat could really knock the stuffing out of Chelsea’s season and see the Londoners’ season go off the rails, with there being much speculation about the futures of several players.

Securing a passage to the last eight against a Barcelona side unbeaten in league and European competition this season would have a huge galvanising effect and go a long way to seeing Conte extend his time in the Chelsea dugout – should he wish to do just that.

It’s perhaps the defining game in his two-year tenure so far and a chance for the Italian to go one further than last season’s exit to Paris Saint-Germain at the same stage.

The pressure is building on Conte.

THERE’S PLENTY OF PRESSURE ON BARCELONA, TOO…

Given fierce rivals Real Madrid have won three out of the past four Champions League titles – with Barcelona breaking up that monopoly in 2015 with their fifth crown – the home faithful have grown restless at the Whites’ success and two disappointing quarter-final exits in consecutive seasons.

The world-record pre-season sale of Neymar aside helped to balance the financial books but there’s no getting away from the fact Barca have spent big (€324.3m being the most in Europe) and after a stellar campaign so far, all of the weight of expectation will be on the hosts to brush Chelsea aside and take a big stride towards European glory.

It’s not pressure the Spanish giants aren’t used to and in fairness they have delivered in two of the biggest matches so far this term, beating Real Madrid emphatically at the Bernabeu in late December and then of course the important victory earlier this month over Atletico.

Barca have produced in the big matches this term.

CUP TIED COUTINHO A BIG MISS FOR BARCA

Blaugrana were well aware they would be without the Brazilian in Europe when they broke the bank to sign him in January, but such has been his growing influence in midfield, he was always going to be missed every time Champions League action rolled around.

The 25-year-old has been instrumental in recent weeks, with his star man showing in the priceless La Liga home victory over Atletico Madrid being backed up by a goal at Malaga.

It was against Diego Simeone’s side though that Coutinho underlined why he is often the difference, in an all-action midfield display which saw him backup Lionel Messi’s brilliance and create four chances, complete six dribbles and have two shots on goal.

Paulinho, who played 90 minutes against Malaga for the first time since early February, is set to come in though he will need to improve significantly on what has been a lacklustre 2018 season so far, with a troublesome foot problem and issue with the club’s physio department part of the plotline to his indifferent form.

If the 29-year-old fails to show up, Ousmane Dembele is a man Barca can call upon to enter the fray given his confidence levels have risen in recent weeks.

Star man: Coutinho has thrived in a Barcelona shirt.

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Barcelona to win 4-0? Fans make their predictions ahead of Champions League clash with Chelsea

David Cooper 13/03/2018
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Barcelona host Chelsea in the second leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie on Wednesday night.

The Premier League champions arrive at the Camp Nou after a 1-1 draw with the Catalans  in the first leg.

Many believe Chelsea should’ve made more of their home advantage in the first leg and stand little chance of progress in Spain.

Fans from both sides of the fence made their predictions ahead of the encounter in the video below from Barcelona’s YouTube channel.

How do you think the contest will play out?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below or get in touch via Facebook or Twitter.

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Seven Deadly Stats ahead of Barcelona vs Chelsea in the Champions League

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Lionel Messi broke his goal drought against Chelsea in the first leg.

After their 1-1 first leg draw, Barcelona will host Chelsea in their last 16 Champions League decider at the Nou Camp on Wednesday night.

The two sides have had some highly engaging European battles over the years and their second leg clash promises to be no different.

Here, we take a look at the seven deadly stats centred around the two heavyweights.

Get in touch with your thoughts on the game via Twitter and Facebook.

MATCH STATS

9 – Remarkably, Chelsea are undefeated in their past nine matches against Barcelona in all competitions – with their last loss to Barcelona being way back in February 2006.

4 – At the Camp Nou, Barcelona have drawn the previous four meetings with the west Londoners – with the most recent of those coming in April 2012.

881Luis Suarez is enduring a goal drought in Champions League competition and has failed to find the back of net in 881 minutes, dating back to his strike against PSG 12 months ago.

6 – Willian will no doubt be a key man for the away side again and six of his last nine Champions League goals for the King’s Road side have come outside of the box (67 per cent).

8 – Having broken his duck against Chelsea in the first leg (his only goal in nine matches against the English outfit), Lionel Messi has now scored eight goals in his past five matches against opposition from the Premier League (18 in 27 in total).

13 – Out of the previous 13 meetings between the two sides, Barcelona have been victors thrice while Chelsea have won on four occasions. There have also been four draws with each team scoring 19 times apiece.

11 – Blaugrana are bidding to reach their 11th straight Champions League quarter-final and have won 19 out of 32 home European clashes with English sides in history. Interestingly, they’ve only ever lost two matches on home soil.

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