The anticipation is steadily building amongst the Chelsea fans in the Transfer Tavern, ahead of their side’s clash with Barcelona tonight. The Blues are heading into the game, undoubtedly, as the underdogs – but they always seem to turn up against the Spanish giants, and so anything could happen when that whistle blows.
Antonio Conte is, clearly, going to have a big hand in how the fixture pans out. The Italian has masterminded quite the period of success at Chelsea since he moved to London, and he’ll need to continue in that style tonight.
Perhaps his most important decision will come before the fixture begins, as his team selection will be key. Much of the team picks itself, but there are a few spots that are yet to be determined. The most significant area is, undoubtedly, in the midfield. N’Golo Kante is sure to start, as he has been a constant under Conte in the big games this season and he’s obviously the ideal player to be playing in this game, but who partners him remains to be seen.
The obvious choice would be Tiemoue Bakayoko, but he has been poor this year, whilst Danny Drinkwater, another potential option, has also struggled. Cesc Fabregas also seems like a good choice, but defensively he hasn’t looked great. Antonio Conte, then, has a big dilemma on his hands.
He could, however, stray from convention somewhat by utilising another player – David Luiz. Luiz, who is rated at £25.2 million by Transfer Markt, has played in midfield in the past, and he’s unlikely to start ahead of Andreas Christensen in the defence.
It’s a move that Chelsea fans want to see, it seems, with a whopping 83% of recently polled fans voting in favour of such a decision.
It’s easy to see why. Luiz is a top player when his heart is in the game, and that will certainly be the case against Barcelona. Being a defender, he’ll also provide that defensive edge that the Blues will need, but he’s also fantastic at passing and moving the ball forward – making him the perfect fit in the role. Let’s not forget, Luiz was arguably one of Chelsea’s best and most consistent performers, and he could truly become Conte’s ace in the hole for this game.
He’s combative, relatively pacy and he’s never afraid to get stuck in. That’s in stark contrast to someone like Tiemoue Bakayoko, who has found himself on the fringes of games when he been selected.
For Chelsea, then, the selection might not seem obvious – but it really is. Luiz is a perfect fit for the role, and the Stamford Bridge faithful seemingly agree. Clearly, then, a big decision is on the horizon for Antonio Conte as he looks to select the perfect team.
It must be noted that Luiz has missed some action over the last few weeks, and so the nature of his fitness is yet to be confirmed, but if he’s fit and available, he would clearly be a popular choice to feature.
Chelsea fans – thoughts?
Let us know below!