How Ernesto Valverde edged out Antonio Conte to guide Barcelona to 3-0 win

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A Lionel Messi inspired Barcelona beat Chelsea 3-0 to secure a spot in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Following a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge in the first leg, Messi made the breakthrough in the third minute before setting up Ousmane Dembele for the second in the 20th.

Chelsea still offered some bite, but another superb Messi goal in the second half sealed the win.

Despite a comfortable win for Ernesto Valverde over Antonio Conte, there wasn’t much to separate the tactics of the two coaches.

STATS

BARCELONA

Goals – 3

Shots – 8

Possession – 56%

Tackles – 25

Dribbles – 13

CHELSEA

Goals – 0

Shots – 14

Possession – 44%

Tackles – 19

Dribbles – 19

30-SECOND REPORT

Valverde

The Catalan boss set his side up with in his tried and trusted 4-4-2 formation with Andres Iniesta, who was an injury doubt ahead of the clash, starting on the left.

Dembele was afforded a start on the right and was a potent threat in attack. The early goal provided a huge advantage for hosts who were then happy to step back and pick Chelsea off on the break, which they did with aplomb.

Conte

The Italian set up in a 5-4-1 formation and predictably instructed his team to sit deep. The back-line was very flat. An early goal from Messi disrupted the visitors’ plan two minutes into the game.

Chelsea responded well and looked more like a 3-4-2-1 system in possession, creating chances of their own but were pegged back again. They started brightly in the second half, but a third Barcelona goal killed the contest.

Plans undone: Lionel Messi strikes

Plans undone: Lionel Messi strikes.

TACTICAL TALKING POINTS

Valverde

SUAREZ STARTS OFFSIDE

Whenever Barcelona had the ball in their own half or around the centre circle, Suarez hovered in space behind the Chelsea back-line in an offside position. That pinned the away side’s defence back and widened the gap between them and the midfield, opening up space for the likes of Messi to operate in.

The Argentine, like Suarez, was restricted in the first leg but the centre forward – though coming alive in and around the box – was sacrificed in the build-up play to free up his team-mates and it worked wonders.

Unsung hero: Luis Suarez celebrates as Lionel Messi does the business

Unsung hero: Luis Suarez celebrates as Lionel Messi does the business.

Conte

ALONSO GOES ROAMING

Left wing-back Marcos Alonso has seven goals to his name so far this season and in the second half, it seemed as if Conte gave him licence to go in search of his eighth.

Alonso not only began bombing down his flank with more purpose, but even vacated that side entirely on occasion, popping up in spaces in the middle, most notably when he went down in the box in search of a penalty. It’s no surprise that he mustered four shots at goal either, more than any other Chelsea player.

Racing forward: Marcos Alonso (r)

Racing forward: Marcos Alonso (r).

VERDICT

Valverde

A few tweaks in his team selection from the first leg made a big difference. Once his side went ahead, his job was made easier -but played his hand to perfection.

Rating – 7/10

Conte

Can’t argue with the way he set up and did ensure that his side put up a fight. Was unfortunate that chances weren’t taken and Messi was at his irresistible best.

Rating – 6/10

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Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud

Olivier Giroud started as striker and Eden Hazard in his usual role on the left of a front three as Chelsea met Barcelona in Wednesday night’s Champions League last-16 second leg at the Nou Camp.

Victor Moses and Antonio Rudiger returned for the Blues, who must score at least once to have any hope of advancing after last month’s first leg in London finished in a 1-1 draw.

For Barca, Lionel Messi returned after missing last Saturday’s win at Malaga attending the birth of his third child, while Andres Iniesta was passed fit after a hamstring injury.

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Big threat: Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski scored in the first leg

Bayern Munich visit Besiktas with the German giants taking a 5-0 lead going into the second leg of their Champions League last-16 round clash.

The tie is pretty much done and dusted after braces from Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski as well as strike from Kingsley Coman gave Bayern a commanding lead three weeks ago.

Besiktas’ coach Senol Gunes has already conceded they are “bidding farewell” to this year’s competition, while Bayern are looking to make it 15 wins in 16 matches in all competitions.

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