We've cast our eye over the Barcelona squad ahead of tonight's big Champions League clash at the Bridge. Here's what we can expect to face this evening...
Ernesto Valverde. Barcelona’s head coach is in his first season in charge at the Camp Nou after taking over from Luis Enrique, and has made a solid start to life in the dug-out. His side currently sit at the top of La Liga, are in the final of the Copa Del Rey and are hoping to get past us in the Champions League. Valverde also had a spell as a player at Barcelona, although it is as a coach where he has really made his name. The former Spain international has previously been in charge of Espanyol, Villarreal, Olympiacos, Valencia and Bilbao among others, and was named La Liga Coach of the Year in 2016.
Lionel Messi. Arguably the greatest ever player to pull on the famous red and blue of Barcelona. The Argentinian striker has spent his entire career at the Camp Nou, after progressing through the famous La Masia academy. He has won an incredible five Ballon d’Or’s as well as leading Barcelona to eight La Liga titles and four Champions League victories. He is often compared to Real Madrid striker, Cristiano Ronaldo, with an ongoing debate as to which is the better player. Regardless, there is no denying that Messi is an elite performer that we will have to pay close attention to this evening.
Barca head into this game having drawn two of their last three La Liga games, although they did get back to winning ways with a comfortable 2-0 away victory against Eibar. Valverde’s side have also been in fine form in cup competitions, breezing past Valencia to reach the final of the Copa Del Rey with victories in both legs against Los Ches. Barca reached this stage of the Champions League by topping their group, which also included the qualifying Juventus as well as Sporting Lisbon and Olympiacos.
ONE TO WATCH
Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan frontman has been in lethal form since arriving at the Camp Nou from Liverpool back in 2014, netting well over 100 goals for the Catalan side. He plays as the central forward of an attacking three, with Messi often supplying the striker and vice versa. Suarez is well known in English football from his time at Anfield, where he was a key performer for the Reds. In fact, his goals almost landed Liverpool the Premier League title in 2014 but a memorable home defeat to us was a real blow for them, with Demba Ba and Willian on target for the Blues that day.
WORN BOTH BADGES
Deco. Our former playmaker arrived at Stamford Bridge from the Catalan side in 2008, following an already hugely successful career. The Brazilian-born midfielder followed up his Champions League win with Porto by lifting the trophy at Barcelona, and he was involved in some epic tussles with the Blues during his time at the Camp Nou. He had an eye for the spectacular during his two-year stint in west London, which culminated with the Blues winning the Double, and his wonder goal on debut against Portsmouth will live long in the memory.