The Chelsea fans have been relatively downbeat in the Transfer Tavern in recent weeks, but their side’s return to form against Crystal Palace last Saturday has given them a boost ahead of their most important fixture of the season so far.
Antonio Conte’s side returned to winning ways on Saturday evening as they recorded a 2-1 win over relegation-threatened Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge. The victory was not only vital for the clubs top-four ambitions this season, but also to boost the morale amongst the players ahead of their trip to face Barcelona this evening.
Chelsea travel to the Nou Camp to face Barcelona in the Champions League for the first time since they recorded one of the most famous results in the clubs recent history by claiming a 2-2 draw on the same ground in 2012. The Blues were in truly heroic form that evening as they defended valiantly throughout proceedings before Fernando Torres clinched a stoppage-time equaliser which will live long in the memory of Chelsea supporters.
It’s likely that Antonio Conte will need his side to rediscover the spirit of 2012 and emulate the mammoth performance shown by the players that evening if they are to have any chance of progressing. Naturally, every single player will have to dig deep and deliver a brilliant performance to ensure the club have a chance of claiming a positive result, but the impact of N’Golo Kante (valued at £54 million by Transfermarkt) could prove to be the most important in Chelsea blue.
The majority of Chelsea’s players have underperformed this season throughout the campaign and Kante is certainly no exception to that. The French international was incredibly influential during Chelsea’s title-winning season last year and practically performed the role of two midfielders on a regular basis.
The type of performance he displayed last year will need to resurface tonight if Chelsea are to have any realistic chance of progressing to the next round of the competition, as the likes of Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi will not need a second invitation to tear Chelsea apart if Kante is unable to provide a shield in front of the defensive line.
Chelsea are set to face arguably the biggest challenge of their season so far this evening, and if they want to finish the campaign with anything positive to look back upon then they will need to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Kante’s performance will be pivotal to that ambition, so he must bring his A-game to Catalonia and remind the footballing world of what he is capable of against one of Europe’s most devastating attacking outfits.
If not, it could be the end of Chelsea’s season – and that’s no exaggeration.
Chelsea fans – thoughts?
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