The Chelsea fans are feeling nervous in the Transfer Tavern ahead of their blockbuster clash against Barcelona at Stamford Bridge this evening.
Antonio Conte’s side will face arguably their most important fixture of their season so far when they take on Ernesto Valverde’s side in the last-sixteen of the Champions League in West London tonight. Chelsea have already watched on as their domestic rivals Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool have all recorded excellent results away from home in the competition, so they will be eager to continue the fine European form of the English clubs with a huge victory tonight.
Chelsea’s record against Barcelona is rather impressive, as they only suffered 1 defeat from 8 fixtures against the Catalan giants between 2006 and 2012, although they only qualified from 1 of their 3 two-legged clashes during this time. The Blues will be eager to see this record straight and upset the narrow-favourites over the course of the two legs, starting with a victory and clean sheet tonight.
Conte will need to be tactically astute and ruthless with his decision making, if Chelsea are to progress into the quarter-finals of the competition, so he simply must drop Tiemoue Bakayoko (valued at £36 million by Transfermarkt) for their fixture tonight. Great things were expected of Bakayoko when he arrived at the club from Monaco last season, but he has fallen well below the standard he set for himself with the French club last season.
The great clashes between Chelsea and Barcelona have witnessed some superb midfield battles between the likes of Frank Lampard, Michael Essien and Claude Makelele pitting their wits against Andreas Iniesta, Xavi and Sergio Busquets, but Bakayoko is a long way from proving he is ability closely matches the calibre of the aforementioned players.
Bakayoko has become something of a liability in recent weeks, and his form strongly suggests that he will struggle to cope with the likes of Ivan Rakitic in central midfield, so Conte simply has to be bold and leave his summer-signing on the bench tonight.