Forget Messi: Barcelona’s £76.5m-rated star could end Chelsea’s Champions League bid tonight

The Chelsea fans are feeling apprehensive in the Transfer Tavern ahead of one of their most eagerly-anticipated fixtures of the season so far. 

Our resident Blues were celebrating in the tavern on Saturday evening after their side recorded a 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge, but their celebrations will undoubtedly step up a level if Chelsea manage to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Champions League in Catalonia this evening. Antonio Conte’s side travel to the Nou Camp for the first time since they recorded a dramatic 2-2 draw there in 2012 on their route to eventually winning the trophy under Roberto Di Matteo.

Now that Chelsea’s title-bid has been firmly put to rest this season, Conte will be desperately hoping to qualify for the quarter-final tonight to salvage some credibility from what has been a dismal season by his high-standards so far. However, their opponents will be out for revenge after being dumped out of the competition the last time these two sides faced each other in the Champions League, so The Blues will have to deliver a special performance to emulate their heroics from 2012 tonight.

Even though Chelsea simply have to score to have any chance of qualifying for the quarter-final tonight, one of their most difficult tasks will undoubtedly be finding a way to contain the threat posed by Lionel Messi and his partner-in-crime Luis Suarez (valued at £76.5 million by Transfermarkt).

On paper, Messi is the player who is most likely to break Chelsea hearts this evening as his form in La Liga this season suggests he will manage to get himself on the score sheet.

However, it’s crucial that Chelsea do not compromise their defensive effort to nullify the threat of Suarez by focusing too much on Messi, as the Uruguayan can be equally as devastating if he is allowed time and space to work with in the final-third.

Chelsea did an excellent job at keeping Suarez relatively quiet throughout the first-leg, but they will have to go one better tonight if they wish to prevent him from ending their Champions League bid at the last-sixteen stage.

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