Chelsea face Barcelona tonight in the Champions League semi-final, coming off the back of an enthralling 5-1 victory over neighbours Tottenham at the weekend.
David Luiz picked up an injury in that game, so Chelsea will be without him tonight, so Gary Cahill will fill in for him. The Catalan side have David Villa, Gerard Pique and Eric Abidal sidelined, so Chelsea have an opportunity to exploit the usual resilient defence of Barcelona.
The match is a copy of the 2009 semi-final, where Chelsea faced heartbreak thanks to an Andres Iniesta goal in stoppage time at Stamford Bridge. Although the second-leg will this time take place at the Nou Camp in two weeks time.
Chelsea have been beaten in three out of the last ten meetings between the pair, having a man sent off on every occasion, something that is crucial doesn’t happen tonight, if they want any chance of progressing to the final.
Roberto Di Matteo has turned Chelsea on their head since taking over, and after already reaching the FA Cup final, a victory over Barcelona tonight could push them towards a second final this season, and surely put Di Matteo in prime position for the full time job.
Lionel Messi will be the obvious threat for the Blues, with 14 goals already in this European campaign, a new record, including 5 in one game in the previous round.
However, the midfield double act of Xavi and Iniesta will be vital, and will create everything attacking-wise for the Spanish side, so Lampard will have to be at his best.
Bayern Munich hold an advantage in the other semi-final, after beating Real Madrid 2-1 at the Allianz Arena last night.
The teams for tonight are as followed:
Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Meireles, Mikel, Lampard; Ramires, Drogba, Mata.
Barcelona: Valdes; Mascherano; Dani Alves, Puyol, Adriano, Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta, Alexis Sanchez Cesc, Messi.
I dont think Chelsea will have enough to beat Barcelona tonight, but I think they are good odds to draw at 11/4, while Juan Mata to score any time at 10/3 also looks tempting. These are bets I have picked out ahead of tonights game:
Draw @ 11/4 – 4 points
Mata FGS @ 11/1 – 1 point
Both teams to score @ 4/5 – 10 points
By Brad Smith