Chelsea and Barcelona played to a 1-1 stalemate in London in the first leg of their Champions League tie. Now, the two head to Spain for the second leg on March 14th, which makes Barcelona the favorites to go through.
What To Know About Chelsea
Chelsea opened up the scoring in the 62nd minute for Chelsea and was probably their best player on the day as he hit a pair of posts leading up to his goal. Eden Hazard had a solid game as he played up front as a false nine, which was a bit of a strange choice by manager Antonio Conte, who has come under fire for a number of decisions. Alvaro Morata came off the bench and might have starting with both Hazard and Willian behind him. N’Golo Kante did his best in midfield and Chelsea had good numbers despite having just 27% of the ball with 11 shots on goal and two on target. However, if you let Barcelona have the ball that much, they’re going to find a way through eventually. That is why Conte might have started Morata, so Chelsea could generate a few more finishing chances. While Morata hasn’t been setting the world on fire, Chelsea doesn’t have much to lose as they’re just trying to stay in the Champions League places in England. You might as well go for it at this point in the season.
What To Know About Barcelona
Lionel Messi scored in the 75th minute for Barcelona, and after going eight games without scoring against Chelsea, Messi finally found the back of the net. It wasn’t Barcelona’s best game as Chelsea were content to sit back and leave their opponents on the outside. But Barcelona’s experience paid off as Andres Iniesta picked up a loose Andreas Christensen pass and fed Messi for a vital goal going back
home. It wasn’t a very good game for Paulinho, who is fortunate that Philippe Coutinho is cup-tied in the Champions League as he played for Liverpool already. Coutinho would certainly be starting this game. As it is, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Sergi Roberto start in the second leg, although he might get another look at home.
Barcelona are favored at home at -225, while Chelsea are rated at +550 and a draw comes in at +350. Chelsea actually has a decent record at Barcelona as they lost their last five meetings, but they have come away with a draw in their last four trips there. A 2-2 draw would put them through on away goals, but that means they would have to play an open game and that is not what you want to do against Barcelona at the Nou Camp. Better teams have tried to do that and failed miserably. The first goal is going to be important. If Barcelona scores, that forces Chelsea to come forward more. If Chelsea scores, then they have to hold up under waves of pressure from Barcelona and that is a tough ask on the road. This is going to be a very interesting matchup on March 14th.
Champions League Betting Pick: Barcelona
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